NYR/NJD 11/14 Review: Rangers Dance with the Devils; Survive a Shoot-Out Thriller, Kreider Bails Out All; Maintains Blueshirts Positivity, Kakko Turns His “Lukko” Around; Lafreniere Good Too, P.K. Slewban v Reaves, Another Foxtrot, In-Depth Look at Georgiev & More

The two “Where’s Waldo” wonder kids came to play on Sunday night at M$G, with Alexis Lafreniere picking up a goal and Kaapo Kakko having his best game of the season, backed by a goal and an assist. Both the goal and the assist were Kakko’s firsts in these two categories. Had he dropped gloves with P.K. Slewban, Kakko would’ve had himself a Gordie Howe Hat Trick!

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Whew. And just like this game itself – I’m going long tonight!

The “Battle of the Hudson River” rivalry teams met for the first time this season on Sunday night at M$G, with the Rangers surviving a thriller over the Devils, winning the game by a final score of 4-3. It took a seven-round shoot-out to get the two points, but as I always say here – “a win is a win”. And that’s exactly what the Rangers did in this clash.

And unfortunately for unbiased hockey fans who enjoyed this game – these two won’t meet again until March, where most likely, the game’s biggest heel, P.K. Subban, will be elsewhere. (Expiring contract.)

Of course, the tone of this particular blog that you’re reading at this very moment, and the overall vibe in Rangerstown, USA would be very different right now, had Chris Kreider not put the final nail in the Devils coffin. But hey, over the course of an 82-game season, not every win is going to be a Picasso. Sometimes, you gotta finger-paint, like a first-grader, your way to a victory. And isn’t that ironic, considering the performances we saw out of the two “youts” featured in tonight’s header photo!

At the end of the day, NHL teams have to find different ways to win, which pretty much sums up this 4-3 Rangers triumph. I also mean this literally too – as this was the Rangers first shoot-out win of the season as well.

If there is one immediate takeaway I had following this game, it’s this – Chris Kreider bailed out many people tonight and also kept the positive emotions flowing – even if the ANALytical crowd will still find a way to drop buckets of tears from their sockets and continue the moaning and groaning out of their gaping chart-holes.

Had Kreider not finished off Devils goaltender Jonathan Bernier in the shoot-out, and had the Devils escaped M$G with a win, there would be a lot of second-guessing, vitriol and puck-minded pundits saying “I told you this team wasn’t any good!” Instead, the Rangers, with a record of 9-3-3 after fifteen games played, are now on a three-game win streak, with one of the worst teams of the league up next – in the crappy and “Murphy’s Law” Montreal Canadiens. (Another team that Kreider has had success against – you may have heard!)


As talked about last night, the two lottery picks and their issues have been magnified and intensely dissected as of late. Both Lafreniere and Kakko needed to get off the schneid, and they did just that in this win. Photo Credit: M$GN

There are so many different things that I, and any other blogger, podcaster, fan, reporter or anyone else, can use as a lede story tonight. Of course, Kaapo Kakko having his best game of the season will garner the most attention, as the previously pointless “Bad Lukko” Kakko had a break-out game, where he picked up an assist and highlight reel goal to boot. We all know the issues that the young Finn has had this season, so to see him finally get the monkey off of his back was a joyful experience.

That said, and as I’ll get into during the game review segment of the blog – this can’t be it. Kakko must build off of this, rather than inciting “remember when?” questions later this season.

For what it’s worth, and as you’d expect, I hope Kakko can motor on and continue to play like this. As talked about in the preseason, I thought he was the team’s MVP of those six exhibition games. I know that’s meaningless, but for the first time since the preseason, Kakko looked like a player flirting with reaching his potential. However, one game doesn’t make a player, so only time will tell what happens next.


It’s good to see Kakko and Georgiev on the winner’s side of this contest.

Another story (which won’t receive as much attention had the Rangers lost), is the much-talked about back-up goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. I could only imagine the reactions of Ranger fans on social media had Georgiev blown this game in either the overtime or during the shoot-out.

In fact (and as I’ll get into during the M$G Network segment of the blog), prior to the game, Steve Valiquette said this was the biggest game of Georgiev’s career. While I don’t think Vally was wrong, I also thought he went into hyperbole mode, even if there was some truth to the exaggeration.

With Keith Kinkaid playing well in Hartford, a bad game out of Georgiev tonight may have led Chris Drury and company to second-guess their back-up goaltender. While I don’t think Georgiev was lights-out or anything like that, he also wasn’t putrid – despite what some with a narrative may lead you to believe.

Of the three regulation time goals that #40 in blue allowed, one was on a breakaway, one was on a power-play, and the final one was after an odd-man rush off a rebound. Whether or not CZAR IGOR would’ve made these saves, we don’t know – but at the same time, this wasn’t like watching Vally giving up ten goals to Dallas.

That said, and in another rare instance (I thought Vally was mostly on-point last broadcast too), where I did agree with M$GN’s resident veteran of 46 NHL career games played (46 more than me – I kid, I kid!) – come the shoot-out, I did think it was “make-or-break” time for Georgiev, especially after surrendering a tying goal late into the third period.

In the shoot-out (ironically just like the final score of 4-3), Georgiev was on the right-end of this breath-taking skills contest, 4-3. (Georgiev made three saves, including a highlight reel “scorpion” save, and where another Devil shooter shot wide.)

Georgiev, whose kryptonite is well-known (breakaways), was “good enough”, where his teammates, in Kaapo Kakko, Artemi Panarin, Ryan Strome and Chris Kreider were better, giving the native Bulgarian a “W” in the win/loss column.

However (and as you’ll see in the box-score segment), Georgiev, who did make some expertise saves throughout the 65 minutes of action, had another game with a sub-par save percentage, finishing this match with an .889 save percentage.

While the black-and-white numbers don’t suggest a “Herculean” effort out of Georgiev, I wouldn’t be so quick to besmirch him either. He made plenty of solid saves in this game.

Once Kreider scored the final goal of the game, I was happy that Georgiev (like the Rangers themselves) won, or just like unruly protestors throwing cinder-blocks through windows – you’d have an angry “pitchfork-and-torch” section of the fan base, foaming at the mouth, all lined up at M$G, and shoving Georgiev into a bus destined for Hartford.


Going into this game, I was anticipating this tilt. It never came – despite the Rangers having every right to go after the dirty P.K. Slewban.

In another story coming out of this game, once again, P.K. Slewban displayed his dirty antics, when he clicked skates with Sammy Blais. As a result, Blais fell to the ice in agony, where “Sammy The Bull” sounded like another figure related to the mob – Jack Woltz from “The Godfather”.

Once landing on the ice, and with his knee bending at an angle that no knee should bend at, Blais released a blood-curdling scream, which must’ve sounded worse inside of the arena than it did on television.

While this play didn’t look like a slewfoot, one of the scummiest plays in the game; Slewban has a reputation for this act of foul-play. For all we know, Slewban intended to slewfoot Blais, but since he’s so slow and way past his prime, he couldn’t get his leg out in time. Instead, the two clicked skates, making the incident come off as accidental – even if that wasn’t Slewban’s intention.

In a 2-2 game at the time, every fan in Rangerstown, USA wanted Ryan Reaves (who already had a bone to pick with Slewban), to drop gloves and pop #76 in white right in the mouth. While of course I wanted to see this too, I understood why it didn’t happen.

In a tied, and later one goal game, with a struggling back-up goaltender in net, and knowing that fighting isn’t what it used to be (where an aggressor can also get a two-minute instigator penalty tacked on to the fighting major); Reaves put victory over pride.

I know there will be a lot of second-guessing about Reaves (and others) deciding not to defend the valor of Blais, but at the same time, I’m also about winning games too – where winning, at least for me, is always the number one priority, despite whatever vendetta that needs to be settled.

And while I doubt Reaves was thinking of this, with both Georgiev needing a win, combined with Lafreniere and Kakko shining – perhaps he didn’t want to throw away all of the good-will and positive vibes, had the Devils received a power-play and then went on to win the game.

In addition, who knows how healthy Reaves truly is right now, after missing some games in the preseason after Slewban got him with this move and following his recent stint on the IR.

Again, while I can understand not risking throwing away two points – I also wouldn’t be one to challenge you if you feel that someone in blue should’ve rocked Slewban’s world either.

I guess I’m Switzerland on this, where I see both sides of the story. I don’t need to have a definitive opinion on everything! This is just a big area of gray to me.


Another game for Mr. Norris, and another game where he once again led all Rangers in TOI. (28:08, four minutes more than second-best Jacob Trouba.) Even better, for the third time this week, Fox showed off his uncanny ability to score picture-perfect backhanded goals. Photo Credit: NYR

As you can tell by this intro – there’s a lot of stuff to get into tonight. I know this blog will be a long one, but after a great win like this, I’m happy to slam the keyboard with all of the speed of Fox flipping a puck past an opposing goaltender!

Let’s run through all of the usual segments, get into the game review and then look forward to the next game.

Up first, everyone’s favorite segment to scroll through – the PLUGS!


The hardcover version of my book.

The first plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my new book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden”. And let me say this – thank you to everyone who has bought one, as my Amazon sales have exceeded all expectations, where for a limited time (that damn Mark Messier who just released a book!), my book was number one on the Amazon hockey book sales charts.

As mentioned previously, the book is now available in hardcover, in paperback and in Kindle formats. To purchase a copy of the book, visit this link:

https://www.amazon.com/Rangers-Rafters-Madison-Square-Garden-ebook/dp/B09CM5N2WD

For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have 5 copies left for sale for $25 (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:

Order “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden” Book Today


Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:

NYR/CBJ 11/13 Review: Fat Cats Explode; Multi-Point Games Galore, Too Much Bread For Elvis; Trouba’s Two Too, Hunt vs the “Where’s Waldo Wonderkids”, Mr. Norris, Gallant’s Goalies, Chytil, Media, Alumni & More


 

The Not-So-Thrilling Conclusion of Walker vs Gallant; Duguay’s Podcast Returns, A Possible Reuniting of Rosen & JD, Rick Nash Retirement, CZAR IGOR Isn’t Pissed; Big Question Not Asked & More


An In-Depth Review of Mark Messier’s “No One Wins Alone” Memoir, Gerard Gallant & CZAR IGOR “Shits-Yorkin”; Conspiracy Theories, Lazy NYR Media, Reaves, Chytil Update & More


While I said last night that I would’ve preferred to see CZAR IGOR get the start for this game, as expected, Alexandar Georgiev got the nod. Photo Credit: Georgiev

With no pregame skate due to the game last night, ninety minutes before puck drop, head coach Gerard Gallant met with the media, confirming that Alexandar Georgiev would be starting against the Devils. In addition, Gallant also said that Chytil is coming along and continues to skate on his own.

Lastly, Gallant said that he’d most likely be using the same line-up that was successful against Columbus – which he did, which also meant no Greg McKegg tonight – the current spare forward carried by the club.

Here was what the “tapping-of-the-hands” head coach (watch his press conferences) rolled out:

FIRST LINE: Kreider/Mika/Blais

SECOND LINE: Panarin/Strome/Kakko

THIRD LINE: Lafreniere/Goodrow/Gauthier

FOURTH LINE: Hunt/Rooney/Reaves

FIRST D-PAIR: Lindgren/Fox

SECOND D-PAIR: Miller/Trouba

THIRD D-PAIR: Nemeth/Lundkvist

And in net, Georgiev.


BOX SCORE time.

The following information and graphics come from the new world-wide leader in NHL coverage, ESPN.com:

SCORING:

SHOOTOUT:

PENALTIES:

TEAM STATS:

GOALIES:

NJD
SA
GA
SV
SV%
ESSV
PPSV
SHSV
SOSA
SOS
TOI
PIM
33 3 30 .909 28 0 2 0 0 48:38 0
8 0 8 1.000 8 0 0 0 0 16:22 0

 

NYR
SA
GA
SV
SV%
ESSV
PPSV
SHSV
SOSA
SOS
TOI
PIM
27 3 24 .889 23 1 0 0 0 64:59 0

Bless the heart of Sam Rosen, the Rangers Hall of Fame announcer who muffs more goal calls than any other broadcaster in the NHL today. Photo Credit: M$GN

Prior to the start of the M$GN broadcast, last night’s post-game aired, where Vally proudly stated that CZAR IGOR would start in this game. I was hoping for that too, but knowing Gallant’s track record, I thought Georgiev was going to start, and as he did.

With this being a Sunday night home game, Vally and Giannone spent most of the night inside of M$G, with both Michele Gingras and Dave Maloney (who also did the radio with Kenny Albert calling an NFL game) doing spots on the pregame show. Of note, for the first time this season we had “MASKLESS MICHELE”, as the lone female of this crew finally ditched her mask.

After Vally talked about how this game could define Georgiev’s future, he then plugged his imaginary fake news stat company, and with all of his shameless shilling behind it. Good work if you can find it!

Giannone then talked about Devils rookie Dawson Mercer without directly stating that “Kakko and Lafreniere have been disappointing”. All three of these skaters would pick up points in this game, where you just knew Mercer would get a point after the way everyone on the M$GN were trying to will it into existence.

Vally then talked about Kakko, where the goalie of 46 games compared his legendary and iconic career to a #2 overall pick of an NHL draft. Amazing. Vally has a calling as a motivational speaker, as I’ve never heard someone accomplish so little talk about themselves so much.

Maloney then had his segment, where he raved about Panarin and said that #10 told him that “PASSING MORE FUNNER”. Rather than doing a Russian accent, Maloney opted for a caveman accent.

Closing out the broadcast, Micheletti’s “Taco Bell Takko” was that Kakko would finally hit the scoresheet. Give a check mark to “Jumpin’ Joe” tonight, as he was spot-on. That said, once Kakko did pick up his first point of the season, an assist, both Sam and Joe acted like this was Wayne Gretzky surpassing Gordie Howe’s 801st goal.

And to be clear, I’m not trying to drop turds (M$G had some DJ named Afrojack do that instead, during the first intermission, where it wouldn’t shock me if M$G and NYR gave a banner to some guy who plays with his laptop over guys like Boucher, the Cooks’, Johnson, Hextall et al); but when you’re orgasmic and celebrating Kakko’s first point at the fifteen game mark of the season (I know Kakko missed a few games too), maybe it’s time to pull back the reins a bit. This was one good game, let’s hope there are more.

In addition, as I try to be optimistic, yet firm but fair – we saw Kakko get hot for a short spurt last season, only to fall off afterwards. Again, I just want to see “Konsistent” Kakko, rather than “remember when” Kakko. Point made!


As noted at the top of this blog, you have to find different ways to win games – especially when your top scorers can’t make the scoresheet. While Panarin (team-best six SOG, along with Fox) was noticeable all game, Mika was barely a blip on the radar. Instead, the Rangers younger duo, Kakko and Lafreniere, had a fantastic night out at “The World’s Most Expensive Arena”. Photo Credit: NYR

With MacKenzie Blackwood in net for the Devils, against Georgiev (where the Rangers goaltender was playing in his 101st career game), Strome then won the opening face-off. Immediately afterwards, M$GN had a technical issue, where we got a fingernails-on-a-chalkboard sounding like noise for ten seconds or so. Thankfully, that would be the only A/V snafu of the game.

Also of note? M$G looked half-empty – the new norm.

I’ve talked about this before, but yeah, between an NFL Sunday, work/school the next day, people not in the city like usual, the “Walking Dead” environment of Penn Station (and its surroundings) and the high-cost of tickets – people aren’t going to these games like they used to, even with the team possessing a winning record. (In addition, despite Vally, and all of his nonsense, being plastered all over these broadcasts – the TV experience is catching up to the live experience – something that never used to be the case with an NHL game.)

And oh yeah – there’s that whole issue about having to be vaccinated too, where I mention this, only to say that the customer pool isn’t as deep as it could be.


The Rangers fourth line, the best collection of fourth-liners since the Vigneault years, jumped off to a quick start, where Rooney got off a backhander. Reaves then tried to slam home the ensuing rebound. Blackwood made both saves, good saves at that.

In an opening stanza that the Rangers had control of in the first half, only to cede the second half; Georgiev didn’t have much work early, making his first save of the game at the 3:24 mark, denying the overpaid Dougie Hamilton. (Need proof of how overpaid Hamilton is? Just look at the $1M, 1/9th the price of Hamilton, Tony DeAngelo, in steed of Hamilton in Carolina.)

While Kakko and Lafreniere would both score goals in this game; one common theme remained unchanged tonight, as “Goalless Gauthier” (I love alliteration) got two chances, but as the story goes, couldn’t finish. Once Chytil comes back, that’ll be it for Gauthier, or so I say!

Six minutes in, Kakko looked like he was going to have another “if there no such thing as bad luck, I’d have no luck at all” type of affair, when he once again couldn’t handle a centered pass from Trouba. Giannone, between the glass, then chimed in, basically saying that Kakko and Gauthier were playing horseshoes and hand grenades, where in a rare instance – the reverse jinx paid off for the Rangers – or at least in the case of Kakko.

The Blais/Mika/Kreider line, displaying their new-found chemistry since the addition of #91, got two good chances to score, when Blais found Mika, only for Blackwood to make the denial while Kreider anxiously awaited a rebound that never came.

After the two goalies exchanged saves, in a fast-moving period devoid of penalties and multiple stoppages; and as the M$GN crew continued to shower praise on Dawson Mercer, as if the Devils rookie cured cancer, the team in red-and-white soon broke up the nil-nil score.

In the Devils end of the ice, Kreider broke his stick on a shot. As he was going to the bench, PK Slewban found Mercer and the newest New Jersey star then found Jesper Bratt for a breakaway. With these types of situations not exactly being Georgiev’s strength (to say the least), Bratt easily found the Bulgarian’s five-hole. 1-0 bad guys, with 4:37 remaining.

And I know it’s now the cool thing to blame Georgiev for every negative thing that happens these days, but I can’t really get after a back-up goalie for being beat on a breakaway. It’s a 50-50 type of thing, where yeah – this isn’t Georgiev’s forte. However, if he was being paid $8.5M a season… I’ll stop here!

Of note, Henrik Lundqvist, who has been a shining star in his new role, returns to the studio on Tuesday night.

As Kakko’s bad luck continued in this period, and after a Lindgren attempt to deflect a puck off of #24 didn’t go as planned; Adam Fox was then tripped in the corner, but no call was made.

Georgiev, with under ninety seconds to go, made a huge stop on Mercer, allowing Kreider and Blais to rush up ice. Kreider provided a touch pass to the winger, but on the wide-open shot, Blais hit a cross bar like a sumo wrestler slamming a ceremonial gong.

After one period, we remained 1-0 bad guys.

At this point in the game, and with the two teams both playing the day before, we had balanced face-off and SOG stats of ten a piece.

Really, the only negative thing during this period was allowing Bratt to go on a breakaway, where I thought after the intermission, the Rangers would find their way – which they eventually did. I just didn’t expect the “Where’s Waldo” wonder kids to be an overwhelming part of it.


Gauthier had an assist robbed from him tonight, but even then, it’s hard to see his long-term future with this team, especially with an abundance of wingers under team employ. Photo Credit: Getty Images

After the Rangers lost the first face-off of the second period, Georgiev made his first save of the frame, just 14 ticks in.

2:10 into the period, Slewban and Reaves were on the ice together for the first time, where Micheletti (and rightfully so), pushed the idea of a Slewban/Reaves fight. It never came, which as mentioned earlier, was understandable – but also extremely disappointing.

3:11 into the period, Adam Fox, whose backhand has become filthier than John McEnroe, knotted the game:

1-1, as the GOOD GUYS tied the game.

Of note, Gauthier generated this scoring chance, but because his initial opportunity was denied, and because the puck was then temporarily touched by a Devil defender for a nanosecond – his assist was erased. In turn, this was Fox’s first unassisted goal of his career. I never really thought about that before, but I guess this is a nice little factoid.

As is customary, right after scoring, the Miller/Trouba pairing, just like the rest of the team, gave the opponent a clear scoring chance, where Georgiev then made his best save of the game at this point, denying former Rangers prospect Ryan Graves of regaining the lead.

5:02 into the frame, P.K. Slewban was boxed for slashing Gauthier, as #15 in blue drew his second straight penalty in as many games.

This Rangers power-play was mediocre, logging two shots on goal and where Blackwood was never truly pressured.

With 10:40 to go in the period, Sam Rosen shrieked out, “THE HARVARD BOYS ARE GOING AT IT”, as Lafreniere and Vesey exchanged swipes. Of course, Lafreniere did not go to Harvard, and prior to the end of last year – never stepped on American soil either.

On the hockey end of things, Lafreniere, who started these infractions, was omitted from a timeout in the box, as instead, the refs only caught Vesey retaliating, thus sending the former #26 on the Rangers to the box. I wonder if Susan Sarandon, and all these bars in NYC, still give him free drinks and meals for life? After all, as the home arena he plays in suggests – he’s only a “pebble’s throw” from Manhattan.

(Then again, many of these bars, who once promised Vesey free drinks for life, if he chose to sign with the Rangers only a few years ago, are no longer in business. I’ll save you from my Deblasio rant here!)

This second Rangers power-play of the game was god-awful, where the team basically chased the Devils like a bunch of chickens with their heads lopped off.

However, right after the power-play expired, this happened:

2-1 GOOD GUYS, with 8:36 remaining in the period.

Of note, and as the Rangers Twitter account suggested, it looked like Blais touched the puck, which would’ve been more bad luck for Kakko. However, the NHL stat people got it right, and gave Kakko, who started this whole thing anyway, proper credit, awarding him the assist he so sorely needed.

And while this night was more about Kakko, how about his peer, just one year younger, in Alexis Lafreniere, scoring for the first time ever since being demoted to the third line? You could feel the emotions of both of these two, just pouring off of your TV screen, as if this was some sort of futuristic movie.

With the point, this is when Joe Micheletti pulled his pants down and romantically celebrated. Okay, I’m making this up, but he was extremely ecstatic about having his “Taco Bell Take” prove true. And hell, I support his enthusiasm!

Not even two minutes later, and after a soft, and do I mean soft interference call assessed to Ryan Lindgren, Dougie Hamilton had some puck luck at center ice, when a pass he tried to make bounced off a skate, went back to his own stick, where he then finished off Georgiev from the right face-off circle.

2-2, after Hamilton’s PPG.

Of course, this sent Ranger fans into a tizzy. Not mentioned – CZAR IGOR gave up the same exact goal last night in Columbus, while at full-strength.

(And yeah, this always drives me nuts too. Some fans would rather see their narratives prove true, rather than be happy about those negative narratives being snapped. I always try my best to not join that crew, which is why whenever I like what Vally said, thought that Trouba had a good game or tonight, thought Kakko and Lafreniere stood out – stress those points. I rather see the team play well, and be proven wrong, than grandstand about a negative (and often forced) narrative.)

Right after goal, Georgiev’s number was called again, as the Devils had a 3 x 1 against Trouba. Georgiev denied Boqvist of a one-timer – a save that wouldn’t be remembered had the Rangers lost.

While Panarin couldn’t score tonight, it was around this time where his emphasis on defense was fully on display, as he was breaking up Devil chances left and right. Hands-down, this was Panarin’s best defensive game of the season.

Unfortunately, Kakko’s scoring issues remained abundant (at least temporarily), as he had a wide-open and vacated net in front of his big-as-a-dinner-saucer-eyes, but somehow, his shot attempt missed the goal. Yep – I was bitching about this at the time, but my negative narrative would blow up in my face later on – and I’m happy about that!

After two periods, we remained tied at two. All I could think was that special teams swing games, as the Devils power-play was 1-1, while the Rangers power-play was 0-2*. (An asterisk here, since Lafreniere’s goal came seconds after the second power-play expired.)


I don’t know if this was a Gallant thing or the Rangers being aware of their recent third period play, but once taking the lead, the Rangers played “PREVENT DEFENSE”, treating the final thirteen minutes of the game as if there were only sixty seconds left on the clock.

Once starting the final regulation period, the two goalies exchanged more saves. Then, at the 3:53 mark, we had the Slewban contact with Blais, which sent Blais to the locker room.

As mentioned above, this injury looked bad. You also know it’s bad when Gallant, after the game, had no update on his winger, nor did he give his usual coach-speak of “he’s day-to-day”. I’m not a doctor (you may have heard), but I wouldn’t be surprised if Blais misses time after this.

This is also where the “SUBBAN SUCKS” chants (“Joe, the Garden is sounding their displeasure with Subban”), really revved up and where everyone wanted someone to take a run at Subban. It never happened.

With 13:31 remaining, Kakko scored his first goal of the season:

I loved, loved and did I mention loved, this!

Yes, and as redundant as this is, this can’t be Kakko’s lone highlight of the season. However, I was a big fan of Kakko scoring a skilled goal, showing off his quick hands and moves, rather than a puck bouncing off his ass and into the net. We know Kakko can play like this, so let’s see more of it.

3-2, GOOD GUYS, as Kakko created a turnover at center ice, had a give-and-go play with his centerman Ryan Strome, and then embarrassed Blackwood.

It would take a minute or two, but after this, Blackwood’s night was over, due to a concussion spotter, just like the Igor stuff from Columbus. In turn, Jonathan Bernier took over the Devils crease, where the cold goaltender played well, making eight saves in 16:22 worth of ice time. (Including the five minute overtime.)

The rest of this period, prior to the Devils tying goal, saw the Rangers sitting back on the lead, opting to play a dump-and-chase game, rather than getting aggressive and looking for the insurance goal. This strategy would backfire, as with 2:44 remaining, Zacha, after a Devils odd-man rush, scored a rebound goal. 3-3.

Again, can you blame Georgiev for this? I don’t think so, as the Rangers got caught, as three forwards were behind Bernier’s net as the Devils broke out.

With the game now tied, the Rangers decided to play offense again, where Bernier made a bevy of saves. Since nothing ever comes easy, just as time was set to expire on the period, the Devils had another odd-man rush, and before you could tremendously crap yourself to kingdom come, Ryan Lindgren broke up the play.

3-3 after three.


If you’re new here, I’ve been a fan of Georgiev ever since he got here, where admittedly, his game has taken a step back as his workload has been reduced. I’m not campaigning for Georgiev to get more starts, but ever since Igor became the man, Georgiev’s game has regressed.

As it always is whenever your team is involved in a 3×3 overtime, these five minutes were asshole puckering.

The best scoring chance during this overtime frame came on behalf of the Devils, as Bratt had another breakaway, where this time, Georgiev made the save – his best of the game.

With Panarin and Fox spending over two minutes on the ice, the Devils had a long sustained shift in the Rangers zone, but Georgiev kept the game tied.

As time wound down, Mika and Panarin had a GOOD LOOK, but couldn’t finish. 3-3 after the overtime.

Up next, one of the most exciting shoot-outs in team history, where yes, this is only so because the Rangers won.


Kreider isn’t rewarded with a goal tonight, but he was a hero after this game.

Again, yes, because the Rangers won – I loved this skills contest. Had the Rangers lost, I would be singing a different tune. Fortunately, the Rangers won their first shootout of the season.

The biggest play of this shootout was Georgiev’s scorpion save (on the belly, right foot/skate extended) in the sixth round on Tomas Tatar. Even better, every time the Devils scored, a Ranger then showed up, including Panarin, Kakko and Strome, with all three of these Rangers extending the action.

In the seventh and final round, Georgiev denied Zacha. With a chance to end the game, Kreider did just that, backhanding a puck past Bernier, for the 4-3 shootout win and the 4-3 final.

And yes, in real-time, when watching all of this, your heart was racing like a chain-smoker, and with a few beers in the belly to boot, while running up the Rocky steps in Philadelphia. (Speaking from personal experience! I know, I have to quit, but I’m only 2,000 miles away from the free Marlboro kayak!)

If you watched this after the fact, and knew the final result, this was much more pleasurable, like a victory smoke followed by an ice-cold beer!

Here’s Kreider winning the game:


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I would imagine CZAR IGOR starts against Montreal on Tuesday.

Not the best looking win, but a win nonetheless.

Up next: an Original Six opponent, with the bottom-of-the-barrel 4-11-2 Montreal Canadiens. Perhaps Ryan Reaves will seek revenge in this one, after being eliminated by the Habs last year in the Stanley Cup Playoff semifinal. Then again, maybe not.

And yeah, doesn’t it feel like ages ago when the Habs were playing for Lord Stanley’s Cup?

See ya Tuesday night, barring something crazy going down on Monday.

Stay FABULOUS my friends.

As always here, thanks for reading and…

LET’S GO RANGERS!

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on Tweeter

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6 thoughts on “NYR/NJD 11/14 Review: Rangers Dance with the Devils; Survive a Shoot-Out Thriller, Kreider Bails Out All; Maintains Blueshirts Positivity, Kakko Turns His “Lukko” Around; Lafreniere Good Too, P.K. Slewban v Reaves, Another Foxtrot, In-Depth Look at Georgiev & More

  1. Back to back wins so who can complain but Georgy sure looks like he needs some Flex Seal to patch up that huge gap in his 5 hole.

  2. I tuned into the Devils’ broadcast for their postgame, and all Cangelosi, Daneyko and Salvador could talk about was Kakko’s goal ——– because they thought it shoulda been nullified, that he ought to have been penalized for running the goalie.

    What a bunch of maroons. And of course, not a word about Slewban. Bush league is as bush league does……

    1. Daneyko is the biggest homer there is, not that there is anything wrong with that, but I’m not surprised to hear what you’re telling me

  3. My question on the Kakko goal is had Ruff challenged, would it have been overturned? I viewed it as an attacking player with clear puck possession making a strong move to tuck the puck around Blackwood. There was contact. How does that work? Should the offensive player be penalized for such a good move and finish? It’s confusing. The Devils didn’t protest. Neither did our side following the latest iffy Subban play.

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