Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com.
Going into this weekend, it was my plan to finish my “New York Rangers Rink of Honor” book, as I have about 30 or so pages remaining. As far as that project goes, I have three chapters/segments left to write. Those chapters are “The Future” part of the book, where I’ll talk about the one day inclusion of Henrik Lundqvist’s #30 hanging from the rafters of Madison Square Garden. I also have to finish a profile on Bryan Hextall. And last but not least, I’m throwing a comedic chapter into the book, where I’ll take a look at the “New York Rangers Stink of Honor”, which will include people like Wade Redden, Bobby Holik, Ken Hodge, Glen Sather and others.
On Friday morning, I finished a massive 10,000 word manifesto, where I did my “New York Rangers 2021 Season Preview”. Based on site traffic and the emails I received, that blog seemed to go over well. After posting that blog, I thought I’d do one last blog before the season starts off on Thursday night, while using the rest of my free time to complete the book. Of course, my plans went awry, as a result of the latest Tony DeAngelo “non-story, but it’s a story”, which took place on Friday night (January 8th).
Let me preface what I’m about to say about Tony DeAngelo with the following. When it comes to Tony DeAngelo and social media, I already wrote a blog, a blog which rivals the length of the Magna Carta, on this very topic, back on August 20th, 2020. I don’t want to go through all of DeAngelo’s past history with social media during this blog, so I encourage you to re-read that blog, which you can do so by clicking the link below:
BCBS For 8/20: The Saga of Tony DeAngelo on Social Media Continues; Challenges A Twitter Troll To a Fight, (And That’s Just One of Three TDA Twitter Stories From This Week), Why Tony DeAngelo Needs To Stay Away From Social Media Right Now, In-Depth “Watch Your Tone” Podcast Recap; TDA Comments On His Future with NYR, Politics Ruining Sports & Athletes Who Are “Openly Republican”, Latest on Lafreniere, See Ya Carolina, NHL Teams Moving On To The Second Round; What It Means For NYR & More
And hell, while plugging a previous blog and before getting into the meat and potatoes of this very blog you’re reading now, let me get the PLUGS segment for tonight’s blog out of the way at this time.
Say it with me – “in case you missed them or need a refresher, here are my most recent blogs:”
BCBS For 1/8: An In-Depth & Complete Preview of the New York Rangers 2021 Season; Looking at the Entire Roster, Kreider Has To Step It Up, Lafreniere vs Kakko, Defensive Question Marks & Why This Team Should Make The Playoffs, NYR’s Mixed Results During an Intrasquad Scrimmage; DQ Tips Hat on Lines & Roster Moves, Tony DeAngelo’s “Watch Your Tone” Podcast Recap; TDA’s Thoughts on Training Camp, Zibanejad Update, Brian Boyle Headline Readers & More
BCBS For 1/6: Little Orphan Gary Bettman Gets Some Major Daddy Warbucks; NHL Renames All Four Divisions, The 2028 “My Shiny Hiney Stanley Cup Final”, New York Rangers News & Notes Out of Training Camp, The NYR Beat Reporters; Larry Brooks and His “Take a Shot at Love” Affair, CZAR Igor, Lafreniere, DQ, AHL Return, USA Hockey, Muckler, The Bread Line & More
BCBS New Year’s Eve Edition: Complete 2021 NHL Season Preview & Profiles Of All 31 Teams, What To Expect in 2021, Stanley Cup Predictions, Tony DeAngelo’s “Watch Your Tone” Podcast Review Featuring an Incredible Interview with Josh Reddick, Latest NHL Moves, Chara vs Johnson, Callahan Officially Retires, Lundqvist Update, CZAR IGOR & More
BCBS Christmas Eve Edition: Santa Bettman Gives The Gift Of The 2021 NHL Season To All Hockey Fans, Tony DeAngelo’s “Watch Your Tone” Podcast Recap/Review, Everything You Need To Know About the NHL’s Return Including Key Dates, Schedule, Divisions, Financial Incentives & How GM’s Can Circumnavigate the Salary Cap; Blame Canada, Updates On Georgiev, Skapski & Lundqvist, NHL & NYR Ads, NYR Predictions & More
When it comes to the past 48 hours in Rangerstown, USA, I’m guilty of this, fans are guilty of this and the New York Rangers beat reporters are most certainly guilty of this – when it comes to the latest social media story concerning Tony DeAngelo, DeAngelo’s activity on social media continues to cast a large shadow over the stories we should be talking about. Rather than focusing all of our attention and energy on what guys like Lafreniere, Kakko, Panarin, Shestyorkin, Georgiev, Buchnevich, Miller and others are doing, once again, Tony DeAngelo’s name “trumps” all. (See what I did there! I’m such a knee-slapping comedian! Har-har-har! At least that “trumps” joke is better than the right side/left side jokes!)
I don’t hide my fandom of Tony DeAngelo here on this site. However, in this “GOTCHA” social media world, people will always harp on what they deem to be negative over what they consider to be positive. Yes, I’m a Tony DeAngelo fan, a player that many people of the New York Rangers fan base do not like. However, I was also the first member of the New York Rangers fan base to talk up CZAR IGOR, a nickname which I first gave him four years ago. Hell, this picture was taken in 2017, when most of these cretins on Rangers social media had their head firmly wedged up the royal five-hole of a certain Swedish goalie:
When it comes to detractors of this blog/site, they will try the “Twitter Shame Game” with me, saying how I’m a fan of Tony DeAngelo, as if I ever tried to hide that fact! Never mentioned in any of this talk, was all of my stuff on CZAR IGOR (who is now very popular among the NYR fan base) and how I was covering Shestyorkin on this site long before anyone else was. It’s similar to my opinions on Henrik Lundqvist during his last contract with the Rangers.
While all my opinions and theories on Lundqvist would be proven correct over time, just having the gall to question Lundqvist’s contract and ability was considered to be “blasphemous” and “offensive” to some folks, folks who are mostly of the millennial generation. As would be the case, the majority of the people that agreed with me tended to be older, as they’ve seen situations like this before. And if you were old enough to remember Glen Sather shipping Leetch out of town; it was easy to accept the notion that it was time for the Rangers to do the same with Lundqvist, a Lundqvist who had an inferior legacy with the Rangers when compared to Brian Leetch.
Of course, some of my detractors would hone in on my opinions on Lundqvist, and ignore all of my stories on the New York Rangers alumni. Similar to the New York Rangers beat reporters of today, fans will pick and choose what they want to talk about, while ignoring other facts that goes against their narrative. That said, fans aren’t held to any journalistic standard. Neither am I. However, in theory, the accredited members of the media should be held to this standard, a standard that has been washed away a long time ago.
I mean really think about it. I never hid my opinions on Lundqvist’s contract and post-game interviews on this site and on social media. However, when Lundqvist was doing charity work on behalf of the NYPD this summer, I was the only blogger covering it. (And in the effort of full disclosure, I have friends and family in NYPD and will always support the police.) Even the NYR media ignored this story, because supporting the NYPD was considered to be a no-no! In addition, and in the same vein here, I was the only one talking about the Steven McDonald Award in 2020, while the media and other bloggers couldn’t be bothered to talk about it.
Up front, if you’re not aware and just finding this site today, I’m a fan of Tony DeAngelo. He had a great 2019-2020 season. Without question, he was the best thing to come out of that NHL Draft day trade of 2017. He’s very interactive and fan-friendly with Ranger fans. He does a lot of charity work, both on his own and on behalf of the Rangers, with most of it not publicized.
Some of my critics will say I’m too much of a fan of DeAngelo, as I regularly recap his “Watch Your Tone” podcasts, and at length, on this site. I’d be hard-pressed to argue against them and it’s a fair criticism. However, as I’ve said in the past, a large part of that was because there wasn’t much else going on in the news during this summer and off-season. With all of my free time spent at home, the “Watch Your Tone” podcast gave me stuff and content, in order to fill up white monitor space. Plus, I enjoy the podcast. (And let’s not forget that I also recapped every episode of the Ron Duguay “Up in the Blue Seats” podcast and plug all other Ranger and hockey podcasts that I enjoy, including “The Blueshirt Underground Show”, “View from the Penalty Box” (Cam Connor) and “Dropping The Gloves” (John Scott).) (Also of note, BSU is returning on Tuesday night with an episode for Patreon members. For a $1 a month, you can subscribe to the best NYR podcast that’s out there today. For more, hit up @BSUSHOWJIM on Twitter. After all, if he has a Parler account, he can’t plug it, as you’ll soon see!)
In addition, and as noted in my “Watch Your Tone” recaps, Tony DeAngelo, for better or for worse, is the only active NHLer with a podcast. Anytime he speaks on the league or the Rangers, it is news. And if you heard the episodes where Tony DeAngelo puts his general manager hat on, it’s really riveting and interesting stuff. To expand even more, if another current Ranger had a podcast, I’d listen to it and recap it here for you too.
I bring up “Watch Your Tone” here, just to tell you that I have listened to every episode. This fact will come into play as you read along.
At this time, let’s get into the latest with Tony DeAngelo, a story which I believe, like most Tony DeAngelo non-hockey stories, has been blown out of proportion. I also want to say this too – I’m really going to try to avoid getting too deep into anything political here, because one, you don’t want to hear it, two, none of my opinions on politics will change yours and three, the topic of politics is something no one wants to read about on a hockey blog.
On January 8th, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media outfits all banned President Donald Trump from their services. I’ll leave you with your opinion here, rather than going in-depth on my thoughts. (In short, I just hate censorship in any form and I don’t think it’s a good thing if Big Tech can silence any non-criminal. If Big Tech wants to silence Jerry Sandusky or Jared Fogel, I can understand that. However, a politician of the United States? Let voters have access to what that politician has to say, and let the people form their opinions as a result of what’s said.)
Worth noting here, and something I didn’t see mentioned in the 7867896789678967896789 stories and social media postings about Tony DeAngelo? The fact that the Rangers had off on Friday night, as a result of their scrimmage on Thursday night. In other words, Tony DeAngelo was off. Had the Rangers had their scrimmage on Friday night, rather than on Thursday night, DeAngelo wouldn’t have been on social media to react to the story in real-time. Just saying!
Tony DeAngelo, like many Trump supporters, reacted to this news by deactivating his two Twitter accounts. (@TonyDee07 and @WatchYourTone4.) Here was DeAngelo’s last tweet, before shelving his account:
Right away, some people in the Rangers fan base and people in the NYR media, were reacting. Some were holding celebrations, celebrations that rivaled the servicemen returning home after World War II. You see, the big bad boogeyman, in Tony DeAngelo, was done with Twitter! Whatever.
Here’s what we can say for a fact here – no player is obligated to use Twitter. Hell, it’s probably better if they don’t! Over the years on this site, I talked about Dan Girardi refusing to use Twitter, although he mentioned that he has a burner account, just to monitor what’s going on. Chris Kreider, who may be the next captain of this team, abhors all social media and doesn’t have one account under his name. In other words, whether or not a player uses a social media platform really isn’t a story. That said, what a player says on their social media account can be a story.
For some Ranger fans and people in the NYR media, what happened next became an even bigger story.
With Instagram joining Twitter in blocking Trump from using their platform, Tony DeAngelo decided to kibosh his Instagram account too. DeAngelo, in his last Instagram posting, said:
Due to DeAngelo hinting that he was going to use Parler, the liberal NYR media had a field day, using words and phrases like “controversy”, “domestic terrorist”, “alt-right”, “racist”, and other negative terms, when covering DeAngelo. Not mentioned in any of these stories, were how many members of the Rangers alumni, including Theo Fleury and others, all have Parler accounts. (And let’s not forget that some members of the NYR media (and fans too), are Mets fans, and have no problem with new Mets owner Steve Cohen supporting Parler either.)
You see, according to some people, Parler is the reason for the Capitol riots from this past week. In turn, Big Tech decided to cancel Parler, with Apple and Google removing the app from their stores and Amazon shutting down their server. Of course, this is all hypocritical, because none of these apps or servers had any issues with BLM riots and lootings from this past summer. In fact, you could argue that they encouraged it.
Again, I don’t want to go in-depth on political stuff here, so the less said the better. I will say, in the stories that are now out there about DeAngelo and Parler, NONE of these reporters had anything to say when members of the New York Rangers were supporting the BLM “civil protests”, and the Rangers who showed their BLM support on Twitter. (And to be clear, I’m not saying anyone should’ve brought this up. I’m just saying that the NYR media championed these pro-BLM tweets, while burying DeAngelo in their reports from this weekend. In essence, I’m just calling out the hypocrisy and the media’s bias. That’s all.)
My lone beef here, is just the hypocrisy, which is why I continued to call out the NYR media this summer when they collectively decided to ignore the Henrik Lundqvist/NYPD story, while at the same time, they called out James Dolan and the club for not publicly supporting BLM. (And of note, I had no issue with any of these Rangers, including Jacob Trouba, for supporting BLM and their activities. As I’ve always said on these blogs – all I care about is winning and playing well. I do not care how these players lean politically or who they vote for. As long as they aren’t violent criminals/pedos, they are free to do whatever they want.)
And to even expand further here, my thoughts on the players of the Rangers are not just limited to politics. I don’t care if they are flat-earthers, scientologists, believe in Martians taking over the world one day or if Santa Claus is real or not – all I care about is how they do with the Rangers. In other words, the only IQ that matters to me, in regards to these players, is their hockey IQ!
Due to DeAngelo’s decision to join Parler (which he never did, as of this writing, due to Parler being shutdown for the time being) the liberal NYR media and the Tony DeAngelo haters just went wild. No joke, this became the top story of the Rangers news cycle, with many social media postings, stories, blogs and podcasts covering it, which shamefully, also includes this one. (I really hate wasting my time talking about this stuff – but it is a story, I have people asking me when I’m going to cover it on this site and I always try to write about Ranger current events on this site to begin with.)
When it comes to fans, blogs, podcasts or whatever, they are all entitled to their respective slants and biases. However, when it comes to the media, they should be held to a higher standard.
I’m not a journalism major and I have no clue what goes on in journalism classes of today, as I’m now nearly 20 years removed from my days at Queens College; but outside of Colin Stephenson from Newsday, all of the NYR beat reporters infused their political leanings into their coverage of this story. In fact, I would argue that the media made this more of a story than it actually was. That said, I do understand why the media covered this story, as it’s something that will drive up traffic. In addition, if fans are pestering reporters for more information on this, it is in the best interest of the media to ask both DeAngelo and the Rangers for their comments. I have no issue with the media running with this story – I just have an issue on how the media covered the story.
Truth be told, I just don’t like reporters admonishing players over their own political beliefs. And really, it’s sad that’s what the world and media is like today. After all, if a member of the NYR media buried Jacob Trouba for supporting BLM during the riots and looting of this past summer, that member of the NYR media would find themselves on the unemployment line. However, burying Tony DeAngelo for his political beliefs, because you’re not allowed to support Trump in the eyes of the liberal media? Well that’s okay!
When discussing Parler here, the social media app that all these NYR media members now hate, despite Vince Mercogliano stating he never heard of it until this past Wednesday; I understand that there are some wacky conspiracy theories and stuff on Parler. However, what social media app is conspiracy theory and wacky shit free? All of these social media platforms have wild stuff on it.
I can only speak for myself here, but based on my opinion and what I see out there from others, the majority of people on Parler use Parler as a way to get away from censorship. That’s it. They aren’t playing John Wilkes Booth or Mark Chapman on the app. They just want to be able to discuss their opinions freely, without fear of being banned, blocked and made a pariah out of. Are there people on Parler who post outlandish stuff? Of course. However, there are people who also post outlandish stuff on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and everywhere else. At the end of the day, people will just choose what app serves them best, should they choose to join the cesspool known as social media.
Anyway, in reports after DeAngelo’s announcement to join Parler, the NYR media treated DeAngelo as if he took away their stimulus check and urinated on the grave of a loved one. This is what bothered me, because while I expect fans to say whatever they want, you’d think the media would be a little bit more responsible, rather than putting gas on the fire.
Usually on this site, I link back to original sources, but some of the stuff was so terrible and outrageous, that I’m not going to waste my time, nor bother you with these links. All I can tell you, is that on Yahoo, they said Tony DeAngelo started a podcast, solely to spread right wing propaganda and conspiracy theories. I’ve listened to every episode of “Watch Your Tone”. You can find all the recaps on the archives of this site. EVERY SINGLE EPISODE WAS ABOUT SPORTS ONLY! There was never a political discussion on any episode, outside of DeAngelo saying once (as in ten seconds out of about 24 hours or so of recorded material for WYT) that he wanted the NYC politicians to open up the city for small businesses. What a heathen!
If anything, “Watch Your Tone” benefits DeAngelo’s friends and family more than DeAngelo himself, as he uses these people as his co-hosts and allows his buddies to talk sports; akin to me and you, sitting at a bar and shooting the shit on sports. In addition, “Watch Your Tone” sells merchandise, which I’m pretty sure Tony DeAngelo doesn’t take a cut of. (I am of the belief that all WYT merchandise profits goes to his brother and his friends, especially with DeAngelo now considered to be a millionaire.)
Very often, whenever I see these stories on DeAngelo, he reminds me of a Larry David/Frasier Crane/Jerry Seinfeld type from their respective shows, where a string of events paints them out as a bad guy, despite their good-willed intentions which are soon marred by a series of events. Unfortunately, despite DeAngelo’s good-nature and abundance of charity, the guy could cure cancer, end the coronavirus, and win the Conn Smythe, yet he’ll still remain hated by a large bulk of people, people who don’t know the guy in real life.
As noted, a ton of stories from the media were written about DeAngelo during these last 48 hours, with 99% of them including falsehoods, and with these writers using their own political beliefs to put DeAngelo down. Of course, the Sebastion Aho play was brought up in all of them, as if that was the one play that determined the Rangers fate during the Rangers time in the bubble last summer. (It’s not mentioned in any of these stories, how the Rangers, as a whole, looked terrible in all three games against Carolina. It was all DeAngelo’s fault! And hell, that Aho play, along with Carolina kicking the Rangers ass for 180 consecutive minutes, worked out pretty well, as the Rangers were then able to win the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery. You may have heard about that story!)
To be fair, if these reporters want to bury DeAngelo for one play in August, at least I can understand that. Similar to my previous writings on Henrik Lundqvist, at least that’s hockey-related. When you go down the political route, it’s murky waters. In my opinion, once you cover player politics, you shouldn’t pick and choose – you should talk about everything or talk about nothing. And as mentioned on past blogs, once you open the Pandora’s Box known as politics, you’re always guaranteed to alienate half of your readership/viewership/whatevership.
The NYR media, putting on their woke caps and SJW badges, bombarded David Quinn on Saturday, January 9th, with questions regarding Tony DeAngelo’s decision to use a different social media app. Some fans called these reporters “heroic”, as if sitting at home in your underwear and asking David Quinn a question is Purple Heart material. Again, I understand why the reporters had to ask this question, but referring to these reporters as “heroes” is as foolish as Doug Pederson!
As mentioned on the last few blogs here on this site, both the Rangers and the MSG Networks have been uploading full-length interviews with the team and David Quinn, after every zoom media call. I’ve recapped some of them for you on those blogs.
When the media asked David Quinn about DeAngelo, it was reported that the situation will be handled internally, as if there’s really a situation here.
To show you how much the Rangers cared about this crap, all of the Tony DeAngelo questions Quinn answered on Saturday were cut/edited out of the Quinn interview that was uploaded by the Rangers and the MSG Networks. If the Rangers really felt like they had to do “damage control” here, you’d think they’d make a statement or post Quinn’s admonishment of DeAngelo. None of that happened.
As I’ve been saying for years, all the Rangers care about is winning. The only social media interaction I think the Rangers truly had an issue with, in regards to DeAngelo, was when DeAngelo challenged a fan to a fist-fight. Despite that “fan” goading DeAngelo, DeAngelo wrongly took the bait. As I said at the time, DeAngelo will soon be a multi-millionaire. He can’t fall for desperate tactics from some idiot making $30K a year. DeAngelo has EVERYTHING to lose in that situation, while his hater has everything to gain, including some of DeAngelo’s money in a theoretical lawsuit.
I have often talked about the NYR media on these blogs, where maybe perhaps I come off a bit like Phil Mushnick, much to my dismay!
When it comes to Vince Mercogliano, I think he does a good job, but he’s been a shining example of the NYR media blowing stories out of proportion and using his own liberal politics when writing about DeAngelo. I expect that stuff from non-media members, like Sean Hacknett or Adam Hermtrans; but I don’t expect it from Mercogliano, who writes for a major publication like USA TODAY.
To Mercogliano’s credit, Tony DeAngelo chose him to release a quote to. You can read Mercogliano’s full article here, where I’ll advise you in advance, has liberal politics gently infused throughout: https://www.lohud.com/story/sports/nhl/rangers/2021/01/09/what-tony-deangelo-has-say-aligning-himself-parler/6596370002/
Here’s a snippet of Mercogliano’s article, where he mentions his conversation with DeAngelo:
So, I reached out to DeAngelo via text and asked.
“Freedom of speech,” he replied. “Everyone is entitled to any opinion they have. I didn’t like what happened at the Capitol, that has nothing to do with me moving to Parler.”
“I’m focused on hockey now and that’s really it,” he concluded. “I won’t comment on anything more politically. I have my opinions, others have theirs.”
While I don’t agree with a reporter considering Mercogliano’s high standing in the NYR media and using his personal political beliefs in his writings, I do credit him for going to the source, rather than writing a hit piece like many of Mercogliano’s peers did. Yes, the stench of liberal politics permeated throughout the article, but Mercogliano was at least fair and allowed DeAngelo to present his side of the story. I commend Mercogliano for that. And as I’ve often said on this site, while I do believe Mercogliano allows his own personal political beliefs to seep through in his writings, it’s hard to name anyone that’s more hard-working on the NYR beat than him today.
For what it’s worth, prior to all of this stuff, DeAngelo, on the latest episode of “Watch Your Tone”, said that he was planning on doing one more podcast before the start of the season, with hockey then taking over his life full-time. Once the season started, it was stated that Brother Lou DeAngelo would take over the hosting duties, with other co-hosts rotating in and out with Lou.
I appreciate DeAngelo’s efforts to show that “he’s one of us”, by interacting with fans and using his podcast to talk sports, just like any other guy or gal. However, he’ll just never win, despite all his attempts to win his haters over. Anything he says or does on social media will always be dissected and combed over with a fine-toothed comb.
Trust me, I hate wasting my time and yours, by even writing about this. I really do. However, I always try to comment on everything in Rangerstown, USA, no matter what the story is. After this, I’m looking forward more to the start of the season than ever before, where we can just talk about the stuff on the ice again.
When it comes to DeAngelo and social media, if his history is any indication, he’ll eventually be back on social media in some form, although he may hold off from making his return longer than he has done after his own previous attempts to curb his activity. The podcast may be on hold too and that’s a shame, because I really enjoyed all the NYR, UFC and NFL playoff talk from the last episode!
While I support DeAngelo’s rights (and anyone else’s rights) to express their opinions, it’s now up to DeAngelo to do his talking by his play on the ice. Even before this most recent social media “transgression”, DeAngelo was already under the microscope, as a result of the guaranteed $9,6000,000 contract he received from the Rangers during the off-season. With nearly $10M coming his way, plus always having a target on his back, DeAngelo will need to continue his strong play from last season, in order to keep his detractors off his back. As a Rangers fan, I hope DeAngelo does so. Hell, I hope he wins the Norris, Hart and Conn Smythe trophies this season! Let’s Go Rangers!
Lastly, while finishing this diatribe on DeAngelo, I hope this is the end of having to talk about DeAngelo and social media. I will always understand why it’s a story, but it does take time, attention and effort from other topics worth discussing.
At this time, let’s get into the latest news and notes out of Rangerstown, USA, including stuff from the most recent Rangers scrimmage, which took place this past Sunday night (1/10).
While DQ’s lines and defensive pairings have been a topic of much debate in the last week, perhaps the biggest topic right now is the status of Mika Zibanejad. Previously, it’s been speculated that Zibanejad may have had some sort of COVID-19 related issue, as a reason to explain his absence. As stated on past blogs, that’s all it is – speculation.
On Saturday, 1/9, Zibanejad finally rejoined the team. Here’s what the Rangers had to say:
Of note, similar to the practice Panarin missed earlier in the week, also as a result of a “procedural” nature; Miller was back at practice the next day and would go on to play in the Rangers scrimmage on Sunday night. In other words, Miller missing one day of practice, much like the DeAngelo social media story, is a non-issue for the team.
When it comes to Zibanejad, he didn’t play in the scrimmage on Sunday night. While I’ve seen some fans make much to do about nothing regarding this, I wouldn’t worry about it. Previously, DQ said that he expects to have Zibanejad in his line-up on Opening Night against the Islanders. For Zibanejad, whose spot is secure with the team, there’s no reason to rush him back on the ice if he’s not 100% and/or recovering from some sort of injury or ailment.
As talked about last blog, these scrimmages are more about David Quinn getting his team ready, tinkering with his line-up and figuring out his defense and fourth line more so than anything else – including if Zibanejad will make the cut! With Zibanejad as the team’s number 1 center etched in stone, outside of ice time, the Rangers will be okay without Zibanejad at these scrimmages. If anything, Zibanejad taking a powder from these scrimmages allows Quinn to get a deeper look at Brett Howden.
Barring anything crazy happening between now and Thursday night, expect Zibanejad centering the first line against the Islanders, while flanked by Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich. Speaking of Pavel Buchnevich, let’s talk about him next.
As mentioned in my “New York Rangers 2021 Season Preview” blog, Pavel Buchnevich will become a restricted free agent after this season. In other words, it behooves him more so than ever before, to have a huge 2021 season.
In DQ’s first two seasons with the team, including last season where Quinn referred to Buchnevich as “Captain Happy”, the two have had somewhat a rocky relationship. That’s not to say these two are on bad terms or anything, it’s just to say that these two probably muttered some expletives under their breath, while in the presence of each other. And even then, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here!
In a media call from Sunday, Quinn raved about one of his most longest tenured players:
“The guy that’s kind of jumping out to all of us is Buchnevich. Obviously, he had a real good second half last year. This is the best camp he’s had since I’ve been here. I loved the way he played in the scrimmage. I just love the way things are going for him. He and I have had long conversations about what his abilities are and we certainly know what he’s capable of doing. I’m excited for the fact that it looks like he’s got a chance to maximize his potential for a full season as opposed to just half. He continues to get better and better. He continues to grow. … I really just like his attitude and his approach to training camp.”
Buchnevich, perhaps more mature about his style of play, said the following to the media:
“I just want my team to make the playoffs. I don’t [care about] the points or that stuff, lately I just want to help my team win the games and make the playoffs. That’s it.”
Similar to other forwards on the team, that may be out-shadowed by the money players in Kreider and Zibanejad, along with the crown jewel of the 2020 NHL Draft in Alexis Lafreniere; Buchnevich could wind up being a major contributor during the 2021 season. I for one, hope so!
When I look at the team as a whole, and the expected first line of Kreider/Zibanejad/Buchnevich, there are both reasons to be cautious and to be excited.
If Zibanejad can follow up last season’s campaign, the Rangers will be in the playoff mix. If Kreider can continue to roll as he did once the calendar flipped from 2019 to 2020, the Rangers will be in good shape. And if Pavel Buchnevich can continue to grow, this first line will be a major force in the NHL. Of course, everything could go up in flames too, especially if Zibanejad’s concussion issues plague him, Kreider remains consistently inconsistent and Buchnevich gets a tad “mopey”. However, I choose to be an optimist, and with his future earnings in play, I think Buchnevich will make DQ very happy.
Let’s transition this nice flow about Buchnevich onto another Ranger that’s standing out in practice and in the scrimmages, in a one K’Andre Miller.
As talked about last blog, the DeAngelo and Trouba pairing, in their first scrimmage together, didn’t look so hot, as they were on the wrong side of a 6-1 40 minute scrimmage on Thursday night. In the practices and the scrimmage that followed on Sunday night, DQ broke up this potential new pairing, slotting Tony DeAngelo back on his natural right side of the defense, with Jack Johnson as his new partner. In turn, David Quinn bumped up K’Andre Miller and put him together with Jacob Trouba.
Just like how the team and Quinn were raving about Miller during the mini-camp from this past summer, Quinn and the team are still raving about the team’s new potential starting defenseman. In fact, DQ showed us how strong he believed in Miller on Sunday night, debuting Miller and Trouba as a pair during the contest.
In fact, here were the line-ups from Sunday’s scrimmage:
After the scrimmage, the Rangers uploaded Quinn’s press conference. Here it is:
“We have depth. There are going to be some decisions to be made.” – Coach Quinn pic.twitter.com/G6EKG9e8Yo
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 11, 2021
While nothing won’t be official until Thursday night, DQ did rave about Miller once again on Sunday night, stating that Miller and Trouba “did a really good job”. Of course, as he’s been doing in all of these press conferences, DQ was quick to point out that nothing is permanent yet and he’s still experimenting with his defensive combinations.
For every fan embracing the Rangers rebuild and youth movement, this news on Miller is encouraging. Again, while nothing is concrete yet, it’s highly likely that Miller will find himself in the line-up, come Thursday night against the Islanders.
And as I’ve been saying all along, I truly feel that Tony DeAngelo will miss Marc Staal a lot this season. While I’m not down on Jack Johnson like the majority of fans are, since the Rangers could always make him a healthy scratch/part of the taxi-squad, Johnson is not an upgrade over Staal, or Trouba either for that matter.
We’ll see what happens come opening night, but if things continue to go the way they are going, I could see Fox/Lindgren, Trouba/Miller and DeAngelo/Smith as your six defenseman, at least for Opening Night. After that, all bets are off!
Four Rangers that I’m really excited to see this season, are Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere, Alexandar Georgiev and Igor Shestyorkin. According to all reports, these four have looked well, with the goalies standing out more than the forwards. Then again, the goalies should look better at this stage, especially since the goalies are more experienced and usually, goalies come out of camp hotter than forwards.
In his interview after the scrimmage, Quinn remained high on both his netminders, as both looked great in the Rangers 1-1 intrasquad scrimmage. Some reporters, who saw the game (as usual, these scrimmages aren’t available for the public) also said this was Lafreniere’s best game yet, which is extremely encouraging.
After a goal from Lemieux, which put Team White up 1-0, Alexis Lafreniere beat Igor Shestyorkin, to tie the game at 1-1. (Of note, this was a 50 minute scrimmage, with the team working on special teams after the scrimmage.) Footage of Lafreniere’s goal can be found on all NYR social media channels. Also of note, Lafreniere took a big hit in this game by Kevin Rooney, which created sirens around NYR social media. However, Lafreniere was fine and continued to play. If anything, at least in my opinion, these guys need to get used to contact, so this was a good thing and not a bad thing.
A 1-1 score could suggest different things. For one, the goaltenders faced a ton of shots, including penalty shots. The goaltenders looked solid, keeping this game as a low scoring affair. Whether the defense looked better or the shooters were stifled; it is somewhat up in the air, but for one half of the team that let up six goals in the first scrimmage, you’d have to think that the defense tightened up a bit in this game. However, this is tough to say with certainty, as even the NYR media were watching a one camera stream of the game and without the benefit of replay. You can really only go by what David Quinn is saying, and he seemed happy with his goalies, the Miller/Trouba pairing and Buchnevich on Sunday night.
As you read these words, we are three nights away from the opening puck drop of the Rangers 2021 season. I don’t think I’ve been as jacked for the start of a season since the 2014-2015 season. While there will be growing pains along the way, I still contend that the future is bright and this team makes the playoffs.
Up next for the Rangers: more practices, another scrimmage and roster cuts. And really, I hope we’ve seen the end of the DeAngelo/social media stories, as there are bigger fish to fry and better things to talk about. The world is too jacked up already and the Rangers are a nice escape from it all.
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As I close out this blog, I’ll say what I said 72 hours ago at this time!
Up next: I continue to work on my “New York Rangers Rink of Honor” book, a project that has become overwhelming, yet fun.
I should be back next week, previewing the first game of the season. After that, we’re back into game review mode!
As always here, thanks for reading and…
LET’S GO RANGERS!
@NYCTHEMIC on Tweeter and on Parler
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