Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Did you hear the news? Kaapo Kakko scored tonight! Let the parade begin!
(But the Blueshirts’ beat reporters mentioning Blake Wheeler’s two goals, including the first Rangers’ empty netter in seemingly forever? Who cares about such things!?!?!)
On a day where a lot of off-ice news was made in the mean streets of Rangerstown, USA, and where for the second time in franchise history, a Rangers’ team owner was alleged of sexual assault (read my first book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden,” for the full story – and where hopefully – James Dolan, just as Tex Rickard once was nearly one-hundred years ago, will be exonerated of all allegations/charges), the Blueshirts prevailed on Tuesday night in their 5-2 win over the Krakheads.
And while I’m not here to shit in your cereal, nor am I trying to “discredit” tonight’s two-points netted in the standings either; at the end of the day, the Rangers did exactly what they were supposed to do – beat-up on a non-playoff team on home ice – and a Kraken group that were without their starting goaltender, best scorer, best defenseman and their top-two forwards too.
As you may have already guessed – yes – this is my transition to my season-long daily disclaimer, one that I share with you after every game played, and no matter if the Rangers win-or-lose, and a mantra that reads as such:
“WHATEVER THE RANGERS DO IN THE REGULAR SEASON DOESN’T MATTER. THEY CAN ONLY BE JUDGED BY WHATEVER THEY DO IN THE 2024 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS!”
Until Wheeler scored the third Rangers’ goal of the game at the 12:32 mark of the second stanza, Tuesday’s 5-2 victory felt like deja vu – as a lot of what we saw in the 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals from Sunday played out again for “LAVY’S LOT.”
Entering Tuesday night having gone two of their last twenty on the power-play, this negative trend was increased to two of their last twenty-one, following Panarin drawing the first penalty of the game at the 4:18 mark of the first frame.
Worse than that – the Rangers didn’t even register a SOG during this two-minute man-advantage.
However, the bleeding stopped on the Blueshirts’ second-and-final power-play of the game, as a Justin Schultz delay of game (puck over the glass) penalty returned the Rangers to the power-play some 43-seconds later after leaving it.
A Vincent Trocheck power-play goal ended the drought, as the team’s number center buried a puck following one of the better no-look passes that you’ll ever see, and from who else – “The Breadman,” Artemi Panarin.
Up 1-0 at the 8:22 mark of the game, the Kraken, gifted a power-play following the Rangers’ strike, returned the favor.
While it wasn’t two-minutes or less later as it usually is (it was 2:19), the visitors tied the game following Jordan Eberle’s 3 x 2 odd-man rush power-play goal – the end result of a rare turnover committed by Trocheck.
Bizarro world, as the Rangers, just 28-seconds after Eberle’s goal, regained the lead, as Erik Gustafsson, following a lucky bounce, was left all alone in the slot for the 2-1 goal at the 11:09 mark of the period.
Once returned to the ice after the first intermission and still in control of their 2-1 lead – Ranger fans were then treated to “THE CZAR IGOR SHOW.”
(Of note: This show doesn’t have a sponsor yet – but give M$GN some time!)
While officially going a perfect sixteen-for-sixteen – it felt like #31 made twenty saves in this period – and with the way that the NHL statisticians have been this season – they may have robbed the 2022 Vezina Trophy winner of a few saves – and saves that would have boosted his save percentage – a percentage that surely needs it thus far this season for the Rangers’ ’24 All-Star.
As we’ve recently seen so many times before, the Blueshirts’ opponent just had an all-out attack at the Rangers’ net – but CZAR IGOR wasn’t having any of it.
Between breakaway saves, odd-man rush stops and everything else under the sink thrown at him – CZAR IGOR survived all of it.
After holding down the fort, a Wheeler goal, a deflection set-up by JONNY HOCKEY, put the Rangers up 3-1 – and that was pretty much it.
The strong goaltending, where once again, and just like Sunday – most of this second period felt like the Rangers were losing despite their lead – and in turn – kept the Blueshirts alive.
A Mika Zibanejad to Kaapo Kakko one-timer put the Rangers up 4-1 at the 17:01 mark.
Entering the third period with the score unchanged, “the dreaded three-goal lead” was never in jeopardy.
Sans a K’Andre Miller (who was arguably the worst Blueshirt on ice – and this is becoming commonplace these days) penalty taken at the 13:36 mark of the final period – the Rangers were otherwise flawless.
Put it this way: Prior to Miller’s penalty, CZAR IGOR only had to make three saves in this period.
But as was the case earlier in the game, the Rangers’ penalty kill failed them and a Jared McCann power-play goal brought the Krakheads within two scores at the 14:24 mark.
And one last time, just as it were against Washington – CZAR IGOR continued to shine in crunch time – and with the game on the line.
Following three robbery saves, the Kraken were forced to pull their goalie, who was making his first NHL start in nearly two-years, Chris Driedger.
The Blueshirts, who last scored an empty net goal during the Jimmy Carter administration, found their fifth-and-final goal of the match – by who else – Blake “Freakin'” Wheeler.
And once up 5-2 – while the victor of this game was really never truly in doubt – you also heard a huge sigh of relief being exhaled by the Garden Faithful.
This wasn’t the best win of the season or anything like that – but it was a game that the Rangers had to win – and especially with a long flight and road-trip ahead.
And while there’s always room for improvement – I thought that the Blueshirts left the ice with a lot of positive takeaways to draw from – which is an excellent thing – especially with their last “biggest” road-trip of the season coming up – and one that we’ll get into at the end of tonight’s GAME REVIEW.
But before getting into all of that, and as we close tonight’s intro – the pregame news & notes.
Following their 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon, come Monday, MLK day – the Rangers had the holiday off – but personally – some of them were extremely busy.
On January 15th, and while yet not explaining what his “personal reasons” were for missing two practices last week (at least not officially); I think the captain pretty much confirmed all such previous speculation and talk when he posted the photo above of his new-born son, Axel (and I hope his middle name is “Rose”) Trouba.
(Axel Trouba – what a hell of a hockey name!)
In other words, congratulations to both Jacob and Dr. Kelly Trouba on the birth of their son.
And step aside Braden Schneider – the real BABY TROUBA is in-town – and where fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins are already complaining about young Axel for his big (s)hits in the nursery ward!
For those keeping track, Trouba joins Mika Zibanejad and Barclay Goodrow in the first-time father camp, as the captain’s alternates had their sons earlier this season.
And as everyone knows – Panarin will become a two-time father sometime this February.
I guess losing to the horned Devils in May of last year made everyone “horny” themselves!
I kid, I kid!
But seriously, congratulations – and at this rate – M$G may need a nursery soon – or rebrand themselves as “Madison Square KinderGarden!”
(“Kindergarden” joke credit: “The Blueshirt Underground Show.”)
While Trouba was preparing to change his first diaper; also on Monday, Filip Chytil, while in his motherland of Czechia, uploaded a photo of himself after skating around with one of the game’s greatest players of all-time, former Ranger (among 686868686868686868 other teams), #68 himself, Jaromir Jagr.
Many Blueshirt fans took this picture to be encouraging, as after all – Chytil could be in a dark room right now – and not practicing/skating.
To me, while I understand that logic – doing non-physical activities isn’t really an indication of anything – at least not in regards to an eventual return this season.
After all – Chytil was skating by himself in Tarrytown, NY prior to returning home to Czechia.
And as stated before, and of course, without knowing one thing about how Chytil is feeling right now, nor what he’s officially been diagnosed with either – it’s just my opinion, and having seen similar situations in both the pro wrestling and hockey worlds (Sidney Crosby’s name first comes to mind), that it’s probably in #72’s best interest to sit out the rest of the season.
Should he feel better over the summer, then this is when I think that he should explore the idea of resuming his NHL career.
Granted, while I don’t think that Chytil, in his present form, helps this team very much in the first place; we are talking about a human being – and rushing back to a physical sport doesn’t help any party.
And to go down the “Nikita Kucherov” route?
To return for the hardest-hitting round of the playoffs, the first-round?
I rather see Chytil at 100% – and more important than that – I don’t want to see him in a vegetable state before he hits his 25th birthday either.
And when it comes to the 51-year-old Jagr?
I think he’d be more productive today than Chytil – and the Ranger that we’re going to talk about next – Kaapo Kakko.
Following the events from Monday; on Tuesday, the Rangers reconvened for a sponsored “RISE AND SHINE” morning skate.
The biggest thing of note from the AM session was that Tyler Pitlick was back and skating with the team.
Once the light sweat was complete, Kaapo Kakko spoke to the media at length for the first time since returning.
Here’s what the Finn had to say:
Despite talking to the bozos on the Blueshirts’ beat for nearly six-minutes – not once was Kakko ever asked about what his specific injury was and if it’s something that could affect him later on this season.
At least the dumbasses, such as Wince, alluded to a more pertinent topic – ANALytics.
And the way that these reporters baby Kakko? (And more on this to come!)
Well it felt like Jacob with Axel – nothing but fatherly protection (the mother hen of this ungodly gaggle, birdbrain Mollie, wasn’t there).
To his credit, Kakko, and on his own volition, admitted that he hadn’t been playing well prior to his injury – and something that the Kult of Kakko would never admit!
And while this isn’t a question for him (it’s more for Will Cuylle and most certainly for Peter Laviolette) – Kakko wasn’t asked about what it was like getting his undeserved top-six promotion at the expense of Cuylle either.
Once the media was done fawning over Kakko, Blueshirts’ bench boss, Peter Laviolette, held his mandatory pregame edition of “LAVY’S LOUNGE.”
Here it is for you below:
Lavy spoke for nearly eight-minutes.
Here are the only things that you need to know from this press conference:
— Tyler Pitlick is good to go and has no restrictions. However, and similar to Kakko last week – the head coach said that Pitlick wouldn’t play against Seattle, as the Rangers will ease him back into the swing of things. (Prediction: He returns sometime during the road-trip.)
— On being named as the head coach of the Metro All-Stars, Lavy deflected away all personal accolades, as he opted to credit everyone around him instead, including his players, his coaching staff and the team’s medical staff. Laviolette also said that this doesn’t happen without his players – and for a man who has been around for a long time – he knew what he was doing when he said all of this.
— As far as Chytil skating around with Jagr goes, Laviolette said that he had no update on the Czech. However, Lavy did say what he’s said in the past about Chytil – he’s progressing and is still “week-to-week” – which I guess is better than “year-to-year.”
Once Laviolette concluded his interview, later on Tuesday, at around 1PM, AMNY.com reported that James Dolan has been alleged of committing a sexual assault – and with his close friend as his co-conspirator, the disgraced and disgusting Harvey Weinstein.
For the full story, check out: https://www.amny.com/news/james-dolan-sexual-assault-1-16-24/
Unlike others, who tend to celebrate stories like this whenever someone they don’t like is involved in something as horrible as what Dolan is being accused of – not me.
While I’ve made my gripes with Dolan publicly known on this site throughout the years (mainly for never firing Glen Sather) – I don’t think that relishing and reveling in his current predicament is the right thing to do.
After all, there is an alleged victim involved here.
As far as my opinion on these allegations goes, I have a wait-and-see approach.
While there have been credibility and arrests made afterwards following similar allegations against other celebrities; at the same time, we’ve seen many false allegations, with the goal of just getting some money out of the uber-rich, made too.
And this isn’t new either – and just refer back to the Tex Rickard story from my first book for more.
For what it’s worth, Dolan’s lawyer said there’s no merit to these allegations and unequivocally shot all of them down.
It should also be mentioned that Dolan spent $11.5M when paying off the woman, Anucha Brown Sanders, that his former Team President of the Knicks, Isiah Thomas, sexually harassed in 2006.
However, and unlike this current situation (at least for right now) – the Sanders v. Dolan case (Dolan was named as a defendant as the employer of Thomas) did go to trial – and where Sanders won her case too.
(M$G/Dolan later appealed, but eventually settled with Sanders out of court in December of 2007.)
Crazier than all of that?
Dolan not only kept Thomas in his position until April of 2008 – but he then named the man that cost him $11.5M (and it’s an even larger figure when you consider the lawyer fees paid), and plenty of negative press too, as Team President of his WNBA New York Liberty franchise in 2015.
Thomas remained as Team President of the Liberty until 2019 – but was only relieved of his duties because Dolan sold the team to Joseph Tsai.
For what it’s worth, NBA commissioner (Dolan owns the Knicks too) Adam Silvers said this was the first that he was hearing of the story, so he didn’t have an opinion, as he awaits for all of the facts to emerge.
NHL head honcho, Gary Bettman, has yet to comment.
We’ll see where this goes next for Dolan as this is a developing story.
Here was Laviolette’s line-up for the forty-third game of this 2023-24 season – the second game of the second-half of the season – and another new line-up too:
FIRST LINE: Panarin/Trocheck/Lafreniere
SECOND LINE: Kreider/Zibanejad/Kakko
THIRD LINE: Cuylle/Brodzinski/Wheeler
FOURTH LINE: Vesey/Bonino/Goodrow
FIRST PAIR: Lindgren/Fox
SECOND PAIR: Miller/Trouba
THIRD PAIR: Gustafsson/Schneider
STARTER: CZAR IGOR
HEALTHY SCRATCHES: Jones
LONG TERM INJURED RESERVE: Chytil
BOX SCORE time.
The following graphics and information come from ESPN.com:
As a general statement, and as you’d imagine – James Dolan’s current predicament was never brought up tonight – not even a statement denying all allegations. (But it was brought up on the NHLN.)
And the Rangers’ beat reporters?
If you thought that they were going to ask Laviolette about this, then you’re out of your mind.
(And this is when we need “Stuttering John,” formerly of “The Howard Stern Show,” on the beat!)
At 6:30PM, I tuned into the M$GN, where sadly, “THE KING OF COMMENTARY,” Henrik Lundqvist, wasn’t there – and Sieve Vagistat was.
After John Giannone lied through his teeth and said that we were all happy about Vagistat being back – I then immediately returned my clicker back to the NHLN.
However, before finding my remote, Vagistat told us that the Kraken weren’t very good – and how his ANALytics told him that.
Not mentioned by the slimeball?
How the Kraken hadn’t lost a game in regulation during the past month or so until Monday night (a 3-0 loss to Pittsburgh on 1/15).
Also not brought up (and this would’ve helped Vagistat make his point)?
How the Kraken were without their best scorer/rearguard, Vince Dunn, their starting goalie, Joey Daccord, and their top-two forwards as well, Matty Beniers and Andre Burakovsky.
And of course, what else did Vagistat fail to mention?
How the Kraken had played the night before, were currently on their fifth game of a six-game road-trip and how the Rangers were rested-and-ready.
But yeah – MY CHARTS, OH MY BELOVED HOMEMADE GRAPHS – and where such tomfoolery didn’t take into account any of this pertinent material, such as the Krakhead injuries, their road-trip and how Driedger was making his first start of the season.
Vagistat remains as moron numero uno.
At 7PM, I returned to the network, where Joe Micheletti soon told us that the Kraken are one of the “hardest working teams in the NHL.”
Of course, he says this about all of the 31 opponents that the Rangers play.
For once, I’d love to hear him tell us what team ISN’T “hardworking” (Sam).
After briefly talking about the Rangers, Sam then went into full-press mode and sang the praises of Oliver Bjorkstrand (who really is a mini “Ranger Killer”) and Jared McCann.
Of course, this SAMMY WHAMMY would later hit, as Bjorkstrand assisted on Seattle’s first goal, while McCann had a two-point night (one goal and one assist).
Thankfully, my ANTI SAMMY WHAMMY powers also hit (I’m going reverse curse for reverse curse with Rosen all-season), because I was ragging on Kakko all game, and like clockwork – BOOM – he scored.
(And just check every GAME REVIEW of this season and/or my Tweets – because all of the evidence of these ju jus, curses, hexes, vexes and black magic are all there!)
But more on Kakko below, as this now brings us to tonight’s GAME REVIEW.
Mika Zibanejad won the first faceoff of the game – and a match that was also being promoted as “FAMILY FUN NIGHT,” where for the low, low, low “get-in” price of $250 – a family of four could enjoy the game from the standing room only section. What a fun way to spend a school night!
Once the second line got off the ice, the first-line jumped on, and where within the first ten-seconds of their shift, both Lindgren and Panarin went wide at the Krakhead goalie.
As mentioned earlier, Driedger, making his first start in nearly two-years, made his first save at the 1:30 mark when he stopped Panarin.
Thankfully, the Rangers wouldn’t allow such conditions to betray them – and you already know all about opposing back-up goalies and their ways at M$G.
It was then brought to our attention from our two affable announcers, and this was important, that Barclay Goodrow was no longer without a fishbowl/face shield over his head. Micheletti brought up how this type of a helmet limits a player’s vision – and how #21’s diet was affected too – as Goodrow hadn’t been able to eat solid food for a month – and just like his newborn son!
This was another example of why ANALytics are trash – as none of this stuff is equated into that junk.
GOODROW = WARRIOR.
In some good news for both CZAR IGOR and the Rangers, Tomas Tatar hit iron on the Kraken’s first shot attempt with 17:30 remaining.
Following a Zibanejad o-zone turnover about a minute later; Rosen told us that Vince Dunn, best d-man in all of Seattle, had the flu and has been good this season. Micheletti then corrected his confused partner and told us that Dunn was actually injured and is the best scorer for the Kraken too.
“MY APOLOGIES JOE!”
With 15:42 to go, this is when Jaden Schwartz hooked Panarin as “The Breadman” was streaking past the center line and into the Kraken zone.
The Rangers’ highly heralded power-play didn’t even register a SOG here – and where Zibanejad went wide twice – including when he was five feet away and left all alone.
They are still fishing that puck out of the Hudson River.
And kudos to Micheletti – as he called out Mika tonight – and many times at that.
This much is obvious – Mika is overpaid and is no longer the team’s first center – even with his two assists (one was an empty netter – but they are important too) that he later recorded (or as Eddie G. of “The Blueshirt Underground Show” refers to them as – “apples”).
Once returned to full-strength, Vesey just missed Cuylle for the game’s first score. However, this is also when Schultz sailed a puck over the glass, thus giving the Rangers their second power-play of the game with 12:59 remaining.
Here’s Rosen’s call:
“I think Seattle is taking a penalty here. Maybe they aren’t. I don’t know Joe.”
We then went to gambling commercials right after.
Once back to M$G following a plethora of different gambling ads, we were informed, that yes, Schultz had airmailed the puck, and as a result, the Rangers were returning to the power-play.
At just the 7:15 mark of the period, Zibanejad had already shot his fourth puck wide.
Again, Driedger hadn’t started a game in nearly two-years – yet the Rangers had trouble putting pucks on net.
But as is always the case – “The Goal A Game 2.0 Line” were here to save the day.
With 11:38 remaining, a no-look pass from Panarin to an awaiting Trocheck at Driedger’s backdoor put the Rangers ahead:
HARTemi Panarin. pic.twitter.com/XnRte5Qi1K
— Jonny Lazarus (@JLazzy23) January 17, 2024
1-0, GOOD GUYS.
What. A. Goal.
And what a pass too!
I will have to look it up, but if you count power-play goals, then I believe that the three players on this line are collectively averaging two goals per game.
But following this 1-0 goal – the usual – the Rangers get buried into their own zone and the opponent goes haywire.
A three-vs-two odd-man rush gave the Kraken a scoring opportunity – but a potential goal that CZAR IGOR prevented.
However, during a post-whistle scrum, only Goodrow, and not the person he was tangling with at the time, Tatar, was boxed.
As said about 89756756756756785 times before – I ABSOLUTELY DESPISE THESE PENALTIES.
Either you box both men for off-setting penalties or you let them play – and how the latter always takes place during the playoffs.
With the Kraken now on their bullshit power-play, Jordan Eberle, with 9:19 remaining, scored.
(And yep, Rosen, and no less than ten times tonight, reminded us that Eberle was a former Islander.)
This goal was the end result of a rare Trocheck miscue, as the first line center, following some strong penalty killing, entered the Kraken zone and then skated back for a reset. Bjorkstrand had other plans and forced a turnover which then allowed the visitor to go on another 3 x 2 odd-man rush, this time of the power-play variety, for the equalizer.
But to besmirch Trocheck would be foolish – shit happens (the other team is paid to play too) – and it doesn’t happen often for #16.
What also doesn’t happen these days is a rapid Rangers’ response – and as we saw just a few seconds later:
What a shot by Erik Gustafsson. pic.twitter.com/SFRUfxbUxF
— Jonny Lazarus (@JLazzy23) January 17, 2024
2-1, GOOD GUYS.
An old cliche in sports is “sometimes, you have to create your own luck.”
That’s kind of what happened here, as the second line got the puck into the zone, and following a missed connection between Kreider and Zibanejad – the puck squirted right to the GUS BUS in the slot and the puck soon arrived at its destination – right behind Driedger – and on a puck that the goalie never saw coming.
But yet again – an immediate scoring chance afforded after a Rangers’ goal, where this time, CZAR IGOR made a save on Bjorkstrand – and where following the meeting of puck and the tip of the glove – the rubber got a piece of the post too – but thankfully – it took another Blueshirts’ bounce.
Following a TV timeout after Schneider was pushed into Driedger (which then knocked the net off of its moorings), and with 6:29 to go; we got a shot of Trocheck telling the referee that he was hooked prior to the Seattle PPG.
At the same time, Giannone reported that every Ranger was rallying around Trocheck.
Sam’s response (and he said this in a sensual voice that had me cracking up):
“This one is for you…. Troch!”
With 4:40 remaining, the Kraken had another odd-man rush, but on this occasion, Tolvanen shot the puck wide.
“OH JOE, RYAN LINDGREN’S PARENTS WERE VERY HAPPY WITH CHARLIE’S WIN ON SATURDAY JOE!”
How this was relevant to tonight’s game, or even at all, was beyond me.
The Rangers received two chances to go up 3-1 within a time-span of thirty-seconds, as with 4:00 to go, Driedger stopped a Goodrow backhander. Then, and with 3:30 remaining, THE GUS BUS had Vesey set-up, dead to rights, backdoor and about one-foot to the left of the goalie.
Vesey fanned on the shot – but as is often the case – he continues to put himself in a good position to score.
If anything, then all of this tells you how well this new fourth line (not expected to score much anyway) was playing.
Down to 2:38 remaining and Driedger came up with his best save yet, a stop on CUYLLE HAND LUKE.
After that, the second line returned to the ice and passed around the puck for a minute, but alas, no SOG.
Following a Kraken turnover and with this line still on the ice – a Lindgren one-timed feed to Kakko (or as others have proclaimed him as – the 2024 Selke Trophy winner) in the slot went wild by a mile.
I guess “The Mika Virus” is contagious!
2-1, GOOD GUYS, after twenty-minutes.
Here’s what I said at the time:
2-1, GOOD GUYS, after 20. 1P Thoughts:
— GAG Line 2.0 does it again.
— Second line does it again too (nothing but wide shots.)
— Happy to see GUS BUS back on the board – had to be tough for him once Fox got back.
— That Goodrow penalty should have never been called. #NYR
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) January 17, 2024
Really, until Wheeler scored, the first 12:32 of this period was an absolute slog.
No joke, with CZAR IGOR’s save percentage perilously close to dropping under .900 – I was wondering if the team in front of him just wanted to see as many shots on goal as possible, in order to give his numbers a boost.
Prior to the period commencing – my ANTI SAMMY WHAMMY (but let’s face it – I was also being serious too):
The fans who defend Kakko on every play should become Olympic Gymnasts – the amount of stretching, spinning and lengths they go to is gold-medal stuff. A second-overall pick who is “poor man’s Jesper Fast. Impressive. I want to see him go on a scoring streak. #NYR
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) January 17, 2024
And while the word “disdain” isn’t accurate, as perhaps “annoyance” is – I think my feelings for Kakko, outside of his five-years of mediocrity (or failure with his second-overall status), is largely due to both the beat and the fans who think that Kakko can do no wrong.
And speaking of the word “wrong” – I hope to be wrong about Kakko – and despite his goal scored tonight – I’d be shocked if he scores again during the upcoming west-coast/PST trip.
Prove me wrong.
In just the first ninety-seconds of the period, and with the Kraken against the Rangers’ top line no less, CZAR IGOR recorded his first four saves of the frame.
And this much became apparent too – Seattle updated their strategy – as all of their attention was paid to the Panarin line – as they were willing to allow the Rangers other three lines, who have difficulty with scoring, to beat them.
The GAG 2.0 Line, following the PPG, never scored again. The other lines did.
That’s TEAM hockey!
CZAR IGOR was in Vezina form here, as he made a clean glove save with 17:00 remaining, and to one-up that save, just thirty-seconds later, he came up with a stop on a Kraken 2 x 1 odd-man rush after a shot from Yamamoto.
After racking up save #7, I thought that frustration from this never-ending barrage was creeping in (and only because we’ve seen this before), as CZAR IGOR made one of his homerun passes to nowhere – or in other words – iced the puck.
At just the five-minute mark, CZAR IGOR had recorded save #8.
Down to 12:33 remaining – and yep, you know it – CZAR IGOR again – who this time, stopped Yanni Gourde.
About a minute later, CZAR IGOR added save #11 of this period to his ledger.
With about 10:39 remaining, this is when the Rangers woke up Driedger from his nap, as the goalie came up with a stop on JONNY HOCKEY.
But right after that, CZAR IGOR hit the dozen mark – and it was a beauty – as he made a BESSIE save on McCann following his shot from the rush.
This was CZAR IGOR’s last save for a little bit, as this is when Driedger had to awake from his Seattle-based “dope nod.”
With 8:36 remaining, the goalie stopped Lindgren.
But at the same time – this is when those deja vu feelings were creeping in – as in spite of the lead – you felt like the Rangers were losing.
Wheeler, of all people, allowed the Blueshirt brethren to breathe a bit with 7:28 remaining:
Blake Wheeler gets the tip on the Jonny Brodzinski shot.
Hell of a shift from 22 in blue. pic.twitter.com/PuyvSRANCV
— Jonny Lazarus (@JLazzy23) January 17, 2024
3-1, GOOD GUYS – and a huge insurance goal to say the least!
This score was the end result of a great shift from JONNY HOCKEY, who at the end of it, fired the puck from the top of the right circle – and where Wheeler got the piece of the puck that was required.
Whew Part I.
But you know what happened next – another superb Seattle chance – but one that they thankfully loused up.
On a Kraken 3 x 1 odd-man rush against Adam Fox (two assists tonight that no one is talking about too), who did get back – the visitors never got the shot off.
Whew Part II.
In my infinite devotion to both the HOCKEY GODS and my ANTI SAMMY WHAMMIES – here’s what I tweeted with 3:05 remaining in the period:
Is the second line even playing – hardly noticeable this period #NYR
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) January 17, 2024
Welcome back Kaapo Kakko! pic.twitter.com/5WhS2QNdKD
— Jonny Lazarus (@JLazzy23) January 17, 2024
4-1, GOOD GUYS – Kakko’s third goal of the season.
This was a pure second line goal, as Kreider found his BFF and Mika then found Kakko for his second one-timer from the slot of the game – and this time – he didn’t miss.
Hey – maybe this can be the start of something for Kakko – and a player who surely needs it.
I know that many Kakko supporters (not the blind ones) have just resigned themselves to the facts that Kakko is not Jack Hughes, will never live to the billing of a second-overall pick and just needs to stay strong in his role as the poor man’s Jesper Fast.
I guess if you have that mindset, then it’s easier to accept Kakko’s never-ending middling mediocrity.
The other side of it for yours truly?
Maybe I have had just enough – because unlike many (most of the Rangers’ social media base, and the beat too, skew young) – I have seen it all – and the stuff that I didn’t see with my own two eyes – I’m very aware about. (I am a Rangers’ historian after all!)
(But this should also be said: It wasn’t until really the salary-cap era when draft picks became important for the Rangers – because as you may know – they just bought every top free agent that they could buy!)
Put it this way: I have seen, lived through and can vividly remember the hype trains for players such as Manny Maholtra, Pavel Brendl, Jamie Lundmark, Hugh Jessiman, Bobby Sanguinetti, Al Montoya, Dylan McIlrath, Lias Andersson and Vitali Kravtsov.
And I’m not even going to get into other high-end draft picks that did have long NHL careers – but just not with the Rangers.
And RIP to Alexei Cherepanov too – and where no one could have predicted his tragic death.
So pardon me if I still remain skeptical about the latest Ranger “du jour.”
And remember what I said about Lafreniere after he scored his third goal in his last 24 games played on Sunday?
I said that it can’t be a one-time event, as if it was Haley’s Comet.
While Lafreniere is leaps-and-bounds better than Kakko – he still has trouble scoring goals.
In other words, and like Lafreniere (who does play well – it’s just the finishing part) – this can’t be one goal and then see ya later for the next ten or so games.
Is it too much to ask for to have one Rangers’ lottery pick to become a game-in and game-out bonafide scorer?
Then again, perhaps the ultimate SAMMY WHAMMY is too much to overcome, you know, this one:
“And this one will last a lifetime!”
But seriously, I harbor no ill-will for Kakko – but at the same time – I don’t think that he’s the answer for the top-six either.
One last time – prove me wrong – and I’ll be happy about that should such an event take place!
As the period ended, most fans focused on the Kakko goal – and forgot all about the work that CZAR IGOR had done – where without it – who knows how this game would have went?
4-1, GOOD GUYS, after forty-minutes.
Here’s what I said at the time:
4-1, GOOD GUYS, after 40. 2P Thoughts:
— Prior to the two goals, this was the CZAR IGOR Show. Lead doesn’t happen without him.
— The two likeliest suspects extend the lead – Wheeler and Kakko – as drawn up too!
— End of the day – #NYR doing what they are supposed to be…
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) January 17, 2024
There’s no point in recapping every piece of minutiae from this period (but if you want it, then you can find it here: https://twitter.com/NYCTheMiC ), as these final twenty-minutes were TEXTBOOK SHUTDOWN HOCKEY.
Put it this way: Just three-minutes in, and Micheletti was already in wrap-up mode and previewing the Rangers/Knights game for this Thursday night.
That’s how effective the Rangers’ defense was.
Among the highlights:
— Driedger robbed Panarin, following a Trocheck wrap-around pass, with 15:20 to go.
— Sam and Joe, out of a TV timeout where we were bombarded with gambling ads, then told us that they don’t gamble. Kudos to them – as these days, TV announcers are advised not to admit this.
— With 11:00 to go, and after making 16 saves in the second period – CZAR IGOR only had one to his name in this period.
— Again – TEAM DEFENSE.
— A lot of this period felt like an elite NFL team closing out – and just like how the Bucs did to the Eagles on Monday night. What I mean by that is that you never saw the Kraken get behind the Rangers’ D, as the Blueshirts met every skater head-on. There were just not that many opportunities afforded.
— With 8:30 to go, Mika extended the Rangers’ zero for their last 786378463689648936 breakaway attempts, as Driedger prevented the Swedish-Iranian deejay from spinning a goal.
— Now down to 6:24 remaining, this is when Miller marred the perfect period, as he tripped Tolvanen. This was a dumb penalty to take, as Seattle was never in danger of scoring, combined with the way that CZAR was playing and with the team up by three goals.
— McCann, who just skated right by the penalty killers, backhanded a puck past CZAR IGOR, where on its way in, also caught a piece of Lindgren.
— 4-2, good guys, with 5:36 to go – and where the Rangers’ PK was now 0-2.
— Down to 3:35 remaining and you would have thought that Miller was investing in a CZAR IGOR HIGHLIGHT REEL TAPE.
— On this play, CZAR IGOR absolutely robbed Oleksiak from the paint. While this was going on, Miller was at the blue line fiddling around with a Kraken forward.
— Ever since announcing his mental health break, it’s tough to think that whatever #79 is dealing with isn’t bothering him.
— Down to 3:03 to go, Driedger left his net for the extra attacker – where had the Miller penalty never taken place – then this would have never happened either.
— But finally – a RANGERS EMPTY NET GOAL, an event that feels like winning the Powerball these days, as Wheeler, following a pass from Zibanejad, said GAME OVER, 5-2, GOOD GUYS, with 2:38 left on the clock.
— One last SAMMY WHAMMY remained.
— With under a minute to go, Rosen said, “OH JOE, SHESTYORKIN HASN’T GIVEN UP AN EVEN OR FULL-STRENGTH GOAL TONIGHT JOE! HE’S BEEN PERFECT JOE!”
— No less than five-seconds later, Gourde blew past Miller and just missed the net by a foot.
— 5-2, GOOD GUYS, your final.
While such crap doesn’t matter, I predicted on the tweet-tweet machine that the Rangers’ beat would ignore both Blake Wheeler and CZAR IGOR for first star of the game.
My three stars were Kakko (3), Wheeler (2) and CZAR IGOR (1).
(I thought that Trocheck’s turnover took him out of the running, hence why I went with Kakko.)
The imbeciles on the beat?
Mika was third (because the beat loves the bromance that he has with Kreider), CZAR IGOR was second (perhaps begrudgingly) and Kakko first (because he put the Rangers up by three when the team had already won).
How these mental retards (this isn’t meant to be slanderous, but that’s what they have to be based on their decisions) on the Rangers’ beat ignored that Wheeler scored the game-winning-goal – and scored the first Blueshirts’ empty netter in a dog’s age too – well that speaks to their lack of intelligence – and how they play favorites.
Put it this way: Had Kakko scored the game-winner – and another goal to boot, then do you think that he would have been ignored from this horrendous beat – and the worst crop of Ranger reporters in history?
I didn’t think so.
I’m telling you, and as suggested to me on Tweeter from a reader – if I get the time prior to Thursday night, then maybe I’ll post another PLAY on this site (check out the one published on this site from this summer) – and a script featuring the Blueshirts’ beat interviewing Rangers’ GM Chris Drury at the half-way mark of the season.
“Chris, do you want to win?”
(Many other NHL general managers are granting interviews to their respective beat reporters, and for public consumption too, at the 50% mark of the season. The Rangers haven’t announced one for Drury – at least not yet at the time of this writing.)
Here’s what Laviolette had to say after the win:
Up Next: A practice on Wednesday, followed by a flight to The Strip.
I’m interested to see how Lavy deploys his goaltenders.
I have to think that Jonathan Quick gets the Saturday night start against the Kings – and for all of the obvious reasons.
Then again – Quick is also a former Golden Knight – and part of their first championship team too! (You think he’ll get a video? I say yes, as Vegas always enjoys big celebrations!)
Quick’s short-stay in Vegas aside – I have to think that Lavy rides the hot hand.
Let CZAR IGOR go on Thursday – then give Quick the game that he’s had circled on his calendar all season.
After all, Quick has earned that start.
Furthermore, since the Rangers play the Ducks 22-hours later on Sunday following the game against the Kings – then it makes sense to go CZAR IGOR to Quick and then back to CZAR IGOR.
Tuesday night’s game (1/23) is in San Jose – and where you could give either goalie the start.
Against one of the league’s worst – it wouldn’t be a bad thing to give Quick another start – but since the Rangers don’t play after that until Friday, 1/26 – then maybe you don’t want CZAR IGOR sitting on his royal keister for too long either.
As alluded to earlier, what’s really exciting for the Rangers, now returned to a two-game winning streak, is that similar to their early five-game swing when they swept Seattle, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Winnipeg on the road, is now on their last longest road-trip of the season – they are catching these four PST teams at a good time.
Vegas is without Jack Eichel, who just had what’s being described as “lower-body surgery.”
The Kings, following their hot start, have grossly cooled off.
The Ducks, terrible already, are without Trevor Zegras.
And the Sharks just suck.
My ANTI SAMMY WHAMMY PREDICTION?
The Rangers return home – and as winners of their last six games.
And maybe Kakko and Lafreniere will score a goal too – and crazier than that – during the same game!
And if that happens, then I’m going for my “Miss Cleo” license.
Perhaps if I can read enough palms, then I can afford a good seat at M$G these days!
If I’m not back before Thursday night, then I’ll see ya then with a Rangers/Knights GAME REVIEW.
Until then catch up on your reading, which brings us to…
PLUGS TIME! (Buy a book and support my Rangers’ induced therapy bills. After all, I don’t run ads on this site!)
My fourth title and tenth book is now available!
“The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History,” is now available for sale!
For complete information, please visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/rangerkillers/
My second plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden.”
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:
For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have re-ordered more copies. I now have a few signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:
My four-volume set of books, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is a game-by-game recount of the Rangers 2021-22 campaign.
My second title as an author, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is now available in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats.
To obtain signed copies, visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/onegamebook/
To purchase all four volumes on Amazon, visit: Amazon.com – “One Game at a Time.”
The greatest volume-set of books on Rangers’ history today!
“Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History,” a four-volume set of books that meticulously covers every trade made in franchise history, is now on sale.
All four volumes of the title can be purchased on Amazon.com and are presented in three different formats – eBook, paperback and hardcover.
To purchase Volume I: Conn Smythe (1926) – Craig Patrick (1986), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume II: Phil Esposito (1986) – Neil Smith (2000), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume III: Glen Sather (2000-2015), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume IV: Jeff Gorton (2015) – Chris Drury (2022), visit Amazon.com
To purchase signed copies of all four volumes, visit https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/
Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:
NYR/WSH 1/14 Review: Blueshirts Get Band-Aid Win Over Caps; End Losing Streak, Keep Wearing The Third Jersey, Same Issues Remain; Same Old Kakko Too, Goal a Game 2.0 Line Continues to Carry “Lavy’s Lot;” Lafreniere Finally Scores Too, Plug Pulled on Power-Play, CZAR IGOR’s Big Day, Trends, Best M$GN Broadcast Yet & More
The New York Rangers Mid-Season Report Card: Grades & Detailed Reviews of Every Blueshirt, Thoughts at the 50% Mark of the Season, The Highs & Lows, 2023-24 Campaign Review, Predictions & More
NYR/STL 1/11 Review: The Honeymoon Period Is Over; Rangers Experience Their First Three-Game Losing Streak of the Season, Negative Trends Won’t End; “Goalied” Excuse No Longer Valid Either, Mika’s Disastrous Diarrhea Leads to Sloppy Special Teams, Blues’ Top Line Eats Rangers Alive Like Mosquitos, Drury Needs To Respond; Shut Down Chytil, M$GN & More
If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:
Don’t forget to order my recently released four-volume set of books, “Tricks of the Trade!”
If you don’t order through me, all four volumes are now available on Amazon.com
For more details, check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/
Thanks for reading.
LET’S GO RANGERS!
@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine