What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. As I write these words, I’m 31,000 feet in the air, on the plane back home. A 6:00am flight is never easy, but after the weather issues I endured last week, in my attempt to get home from Montreal, I wasn’t taking any chances.
As mentioned in my previous blog, this game review will be more about the experience than the game itself. This will most likely be a shorter than usual blog, as I had a long car ride from Tampa to Sunrise on Saturday afternoon. That ride was followed by the game last night and a 3 hour UFC. Luckily, the clocks went back, so I did get 3 hours of sleep instead of 2!
But enough of my belly aching, let’s get right into it. As usual, in case you missed them, here are my most recent blogs:
The Rangers defeated the Florida Panthers on Saturday night, with a 5-4 overtime win. With the win, the Rangers won their second OT game in a row. Even more impressive, for those who are patriotic, the game winning goals came off the sticks of Americans. (JT Miller on Thursday/Shattenkirk on Saturday.)
What is not impressive, is that for the second game in a row, Henrik Lundqvist was not able to hold a lead. As usual, Lundqvist blew the one goal lead, and it was the team in front of him that bailed him out. While the win over Tampa was one of Hank’s better starts of the season, after this win over the lowly Panthers, Lundqvist owes the team a PUBLIC APOLOGY for all his crybaby and diva behavior.
As you may have heard, I attended this game and will get into the BB&T Center and Sunrise, Florida experience at the end of this.
For the Rangers, they are on their longest win streak of the season, with three straight wins. In a league that promotes parity, despite their horrendous start to the season, the Rangers sit two games and four points back of third place in the division. Will AV get any credit from the “FIRE AV” portion of the fanbase? Probably not. Will Lundqvist ever get blamed for anything from a portion of the fanbase? Absolutely not.
Going into this game, I didn’t expect AV to tinker with much of his lines & pairings, because after all, he rarely does after a win. However, before the game, AV announced that he wanted to give minutes to Paul “You will forget who I am by this time next year” Carey. I don’t know why giving Carey minutes was a priority, because after all, he only played 8:35 anyway.
David Desharnais, who has been a steal for the Rangers, as he’s been playing well all season, was originally supposed to be scratched in favor of Carey. Instead, Boo Nieves was scratched because he apparently caught the flu during his trip from Tampa to Sunrise. Maybe he caught the Irish flu after a night at Hattricks?
In any event, with Nieves sick, Carey was inserted onto the fourth line. To say that I even noticed he played tonight, would be an exaggeration.
Before talking about this game, as usual, here’s the official box score, from ESPN.com:
1st Period Summary
|No scoring this period||0||0|
|No penalties this period|
2nd Period Summary
||Colton Sceviour (2)
Assists: Micheal Haley, Derek MacKenzie
||Nick Holden (1)
Assists: Ryan McDonagh, Jesper Fast
||Colton Sceviour (3)
Assists: Derek MacKenzie, Micheal Haley
||Kevin Shattenkirk (3)
Assist: J.T. Miller
||Michael Matheson: 2 Minutes for Holding|
||Evgeni Dadonov: 2 Minutes for High-sticking|
||Pavel Buchnevich: 2 Minutes for Broken Stick|
3rd Period Summary
||Michael Grabner (5)
Assist: Jesper Fast
||Keith Yandle (2)
Assists: Jamie McGinn, Aleksander Barkov
||Rick Nash (3) (Power Play)
Assists: Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller
||Vincent Trocheck (6)
Assist: Jonathan Huberdeau
||2 Minutes for Delaying Game-Face-off Violation (Served by Chris Kreider)|
||Connor Brickley: 2 Minutes for Tripping|
||Kevin Shattenkirk (4)
Assists: Rick Nash, J.T. Miller
|No penalties this period|
If you’re a hockey fan, this was a fun game to watch. If you’re a Ranger fan, this was another rollercoaster. Even with the win, the Rangers showed they are still not out of the woods yet, as they almost gave away two points to a struggling & bottom-of-the-barrel Florida Panther team.
For all the good things the Rangers displayed in their win over the Bolts on Thursday night, the Rangers lost sight of some of the progress they made in that game. This game was very sloppy at points, as the defense collapsed at various times, the offense continued to get too fancy rather than take the clear shot and at times, the team was outworked.
While all the scoring and action took place in the latter periods, despite a clean period on the score sheet (no goals/no penalties), I thought the first period was the best period the Rangers played. It was a very blue collar period, as the team hustled, worked the puck and got to the corners. While the team didn’t score, I thought the first period helped set a tone. To the Panthers credit, they just happened to match the Rangers intensity & grit in the first period.
The Rangers, victims of poor first periods during most of this season, would lead the shot department, 12-10, after the first period. The Rangers continued to bring it, as they would out-shoot the Panthers in every period of this game. Again, I’m on a flight, no sleep, and hungover a tad, but off the top of my head, I believe this is the first game all season, that the Rangers out-shot their opponent in every period.
Tickets for this game were relatively cheap and extremely cheap when compared to NY prices. We were able to score seats in the Corona Club, which provided free food & drink. Like the Rangers & Islanders, the Panthers are the baby brother of the state they play in. The Panthers and BB&T arena couldn’t hold a candle to the Lightning.
For starters, the tickets say “everything inclusive”, meaning booze and food. However, the Panthers don’t let you know that spirits aren’t included in the “everything inclusive”. Instead, the ticket should say “Beer and Sliders” included. While I was just fine with beer and burgers, my friend Tommy only drinks whisky these days. That’s probably why I got a beer gut and he looks like the poster child of an “All Kale, No Wawa Food” Diet. (Seriously, my two other friends and I were extremely disappointed when Tommy wouldn’t break his Wawa virginity on this trip. He flat-out refused a delicious and nutritious Wawa hoagie!)
What I found funny about these bougias seats (Under $100 and for that price, how do you not pull the trigger?) was that these seats were in the end where the Rangers shot twice. Just like everything else in this arena, I found this to be ass backwards. I mean, if Florida Panther fans (if there are such a thing) are paying for premium seats (if that’s such a thing too), then why the hell would you put these seats where the opposing team shoots twice? Sure, there are some fans like me who like watching the goalies, but the majority of fans want to see goals. Just seemed odd to me.
While on this mini-rant, let me also add that there is no reason to have a team in Sunrise, Florida. I’ll get more into it later, but I’ve seen bigger crowds at a forced prostate exam. The area around Sunrise stinks. After having an amazing experience in the city of Tampa & at the Amalie Arena, the city of Sunrise & the BB&T arena was a big heaping bowl of Uniondale, NY.
I’ve been to over 15+ NHL arenas, and by far, the arena & area in Sunrise was the worst I’ve ever been to. There’s just nothing to do there. You got a shitty outdoor mall whose biggest eatery/bar is a “Johnny Rockets.” There’s no bars in the area. There’s no signs of life outside the arena. There is no tailgate. It’s just an arena built over a swamp.
Oh, and what’s with Florida and these outdoor malls? It’s 90+ degrees half the year. Who wants to walk around in the heat to shop? Seems like that would curtail business, not improve business.
Granted, while I did find the staff of the BB&T arena to be friendly and helpful, I’m sorry, SUNRISE SUCKS! Donald Trump should build a wall here.
It’s sad really- because while both teams are relatively the same age (Tampa is a few years older), the city of Tampa & their residents have bought in. In Sunrise, it’s the complete opposite.
Try this one on for size – have you ever been to a sporting event that instead of pumping in the audio from the game in the bathrooms or the suites, the arena is pumping in a football game consisting of teenagers? During the entire game, the Panthers were pumping in the University of Miami broadcast. In the suite, instead of TV’s showing us the Panthers game, they had the Miami Hurricanes pregame show on. When you are telling people in your own building, that you’re a second class citizen, what impression are you trying to make?
Even better – there was a couch with four screen set-up in front of it. Three TV’s were dedicated to college football. The other TV? It was airing an Impractical Jokers marathon. Not one NHL game at all! Who is running this fucking place?
Due to twitter and my trips to Canada, I’ve met a lot of different people. Fans in the cities of Quebec, Portland, Seattle and Kansas City want a hockey team. Those fans deserve a team. While I’ve heard that Arizona has similar issues to Sunrise, I can’t comment on what I haven’t experienced. I have experienced Sunrise and quite frankly, it makes the NHL look bushleague, pathetic and SAD.
In a world where aesthetics is key, you just can’t have millionaires playing in front of fans dressed as empty chairs every night. Seeing how bad it is down here, first hand, I’ll be following to see if anything happens. This is a city that has not rallied behind its team. In fact, in the three Ubers I took in Sunrise, not one of them were aware of who the Florida Panthers even were. I’m not even joking and really, I don’t blame those drivers. There’s just no promotion for the team anywhere, because after all, there is no place to promote the team.
(And for those who are about to ask, “How do you if your Uber driver knows about the Panthers?” Simple. They could tell we weren’t from town and asked what we were doing there. When we told them it was for the hockey game, they had no clue Sunrise even had a hockey team.)
While this blog may reach the 3 or 4 people that call themselves a fan of the Panthers, I’m not trying to offend you. You got a really tough hand supporting that team, but at least your wallet is thicker than a Rangers fan. I will not waver. Sunrise and BB&T arena sucks. I feel for you, but you know I’m right.
In conclusion, if you have the means, go to Tampa and catch a Rangers game. You won’t regret it. It’s a great city to visit and you will have a blast. If you have the means, AVOID SUNRISE at all costs. I know, “never say never”, but I’d never go there again. There is just nothing to do and the city blows. In all honesty, we are thinking about going back to the state of Florida in March, and if we do, we’d only do the Tampa game. Sunrise just isn’t worth it.
After a hard work and sweat first period, both teams went on to light the lamp multiple times. Lundqvist had one of his “excited puppy” games and wet his pants in the face of any type of adversity. Of the two goalies, he had the lesser workload for the second straight game, but as has been the trend for the last few seasons, Lundswiss struggles to put together quality back-to-back starts. You will get the “vintage” Lundqvist games from time-to-time, (And I love when the M$G Network guys say that, because by saying vintage, you are admitting that Hank is an overrated and overpaid egomaniac swiss cheese motherfucker today) but more times than not, you get the game that you got here.
I will say – as much as I despise Lundswiss and his contract, I will give him props for the following. During the game, the Panthers were honoring a World War II veteran. Lundqvist, who was trying to skate around his crease and stay in the zone, took a break from his routine, pointed his stick at the veteran and nodded his mask, akin to a ball player tipping his cap. It was a great sign of respect. I just felt that should be mentioned, especially since I have questioned Lundqvist’s character before. In that moment, I was proud of Lundqvist and I felt he did the right thing.
I keep making crowd and Sunrise jokes, but I’ll tell you, outside of NY, every NHL team does 50-50 raffles. I think tonight’s grand prize was $47.50.
Oh, and while on the 50-50’s, nothing is dumber and funnier to me, than standing up and pretending that I won it. The look on people’s faces is always worth acting like jackass and standing up.
One thing that continued in this game, that I’d like to see the Rangers get away from, are all the extra passes that usually lead to nowhere. I think AV got sick of it, because as the game progressed, the Rangers started blasting pucks and looking for deflections & tip-ins.
I can’t claim to say I have watched much of the Panthers this season, but either the Rangers are soft or the Cats can play.physical. Both Carey and Holden would get dropped like a box of rocks in this tilt.
Colton Sceviour got the scoring started in this game, three minutes into the second period. Lundswiss was right in front of me and was flipping around like a fish out of water before the goal was scored. I even mentioned on twitter (@NYCTHEMIC where you can also find more pictures of this game) that it was only a matter of time before he was beat. Sure enough, he was.
However, of all people, Nick Holden, tied the game four minutes later. I originally thought it was deflected, I believe by Desharnais, but that wasn’t the case. If there is anything bad about being at the games live, it is that you don’t have the benefit of zoomed in replay. At this arena, you’re lucky they even put the Panthers game on the big scoreboard hanging over center ice. I was shocked that the college football game wasn’t on. During the Holden goal, I was sitting on the other end of the ice, so it was tough to see the play as it was. Either way, 1-1 game.
Worth mentioning, while this was a crowd dominated by Ranger blue jerseys, the tiny amount of Panther fans in the building really did show their support for Luongo. I think Luongo could pull a Kevin Spacey and these fans would give him a pass. It’s akin to the delusional relationship Lundswiss fan boys & Joe Micheletti have for their Swedish Swiss Cheese Superman.
Two players stuck out a bit to me, but not for the best reasons. I thought Brady Skjei was completely horrible in this game, especially on the PP. He may have been the worst Rangers defenseman in this game.
The other player is the always-polarizing Rick Nash. While Nash would score in this one, he just constantly keeps coming close. If Nash ever converted on 25% of the opportunities he gets, he would be shattering Gretzky’s single-season record. I truly believe Nash couldn’t score in a whore house with a fistful of $50 bills.
Colt Sceviour would strike again, at the 14 minute mark of the period, making the score 2-1 bad guys. However, in a very Rangersesque way, it was the Florida Panthers giving up the late, end of the period goal. Kevin Shattenkirk absolutely blasted one, with 61 seconds to go, to tie the game up, 2-2, and heading into the third.
During the intermission, the Panthers had some interesting music. What I’ve also noticed is that you can literally sing any song, even if you don’t know the words, in the voice of Eddie Vedder. (Trust me, this is funnier and really works if I do it for you in person.)
Michael Grabner, who has been a day late and a dollar short all season, scored his best goal of the season, 5 minutes into the third period, to give the Rangers a 3-2 edge. You can see the relief in his face, as he had an epic celebration. Of course, Lundswiss being Lundswiss & the rule of “Ex-Rangers Must Score”, Keith Yandle tied the game three minutes later, to make it 3-3.
With a little under 10 minutes left, Ryan McDonagh blasted a shot. I thought it was a clean goal for McDonagh, but twitter and the box score tells me that Rick Nash must’ve got a stick on it. This was also a PPG. Speaking of the PPG, the Rangers went 1-3 on the night, while the PK went 0-2. I’ll take that every game. 4-3 good guys.
With the clock rapidly approaching triple zero, Roberto Luongo was pulled from net with just under two minutes left. Before Luongo could even sit down, his teammates were celebrating their 6 vs 5 goal in Hank’s pissy face. I mean seriously, Hank didn’t even give Luongo a chance to touch a Gatorade bottle or say what’s up to someone on the bench. Luongo was over the boards and bang, 4-4 game, as Trocheck had no troubles beating Lundswiss.
At this point of the game, I was just rooting for OT. Each team would get one more scoring chance before saying fuck it and waited for regulation to end. With both teams needing points, this was probably the veteran move.
Going into the OT, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I could’ve thrown my beer from 400 feet away and it would’ve went through the legs of Lundswiss. However, for the second straight game in a row, an American scored a quick OT goal to put all the worries to bed. This time, it was Kevin Shattenkirk and the best thing, at least for me personally, is I could see the goal coming the whole way. There’s nothing like seeing a play develop in front of you and knowing that it’s going to lead to a goal.
For Kevin Shattenkirk, this was his best & biggest game of his short NYR career. Let’s hope for many moments like this. I know fans of St. Louis made this argument before, but is Shattenkirk more valuable as a forward? I mean, all the guy does is produce points and is a liability defensively. I know people get set in their ways and all, but as this contract progresses, I could see Shattenkirk lining up as a forward in a game.
Trust me, in the near future, you can expect plenty of articles and blogs, from other people, that will soon be giving you the “SHATTENKIRK MUST BE A FORWARD!!!!” hot take.
For the Rangers, this was a great victory, and really, one they needed to have. After all their struggles, you don’t beat a hot Vegas team, follow that up by beating the best team in the league (Tampa) in their own house, then drop a game to crappy Florida.
While Lundswiss was a shit show tonight (As usual, the best goalie on the ice was the opposing goalie) the Rangers bailed him out. It’s amazing how the times change, huh? Wasn’t long ago that Hank was the bedrock of the team. Now he’s a ripple in the foundation.
Another rarity that I wouldn’t bank on every game – getting three goals from your defense. It’s great that it happens and during the course of an 82 game season, you’re going to need to win different games in different ways and all, but I just don’t see that trend continuing.
Couple of things before I land and it has to do with the attendance. Just look at these pictures I took from the game:
When I think about it, man, would’ve it been embarrassing to lose to these Panthers in this building!
Couple of things before I wrap this up.
Due to the WiFi on my plane crapping out, I had to finish this blog at home. I was happy to see the following things come in the mail:
I saved the best for last….
What, you thought I was going to get a Pavelec jersey? ALL HAIL CZAR IGOR!
I’ll be back Monday night. Make sure to check out the Sean Avery book review, that is now posted on the main page of BlueCollarBlueShirts.com
As always, thanks for reading and…
“LET’S GO RANGERS”
@NYCTHEMIC on tweeter