NYR/COL 12/14 Review: Rangers Fail Litmus Test, Zibanenash Continues “Missing Mika” Act; Panarin Plays Patty-Cake with AJ, Lack of Focus, Nemeth Needs a Powder, IgoR, COVID-MANIA Runnin’ Rampant; The “Pause” Word, ESPN+ Thoughts, Gallant & More

In what was pretty much a “litmus test” game for the Rangers; the Blueshirts failed, dropping a 4-2 decision to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night. For Gallant’s gang, unlike the last time these two teams played – there are no excuses. Simply put – the better team won.

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. This game wasn’t exactly a “revenge” game for the Rangers on this night.

That said, the Rangers are still one point away from first place in the division. They can claim first place tomorrow night, so there’s that! Glass half-full I say!

On Tuesday night, the Rangers, looking to get even after the brutal 7-3 “scheduled loss” to these same Avalanche from just under a week ago; were doubled-up by the favorite team to win the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, dropping the rematch by a final score of 4-2.

While the 4-2 score doesn’t suggest a blowout or anything as severe as that; the Rangers were pretty much dominated for the majority of the game, especially during the first twenty minutes.

And really, I’m not that upset that they lost (especially when the Blueshirts came this-close of tying the game during the final minute of action), but there were things that bothered me, like this:

Down 3-1 with under eight minutes to go in the third period and Panarin was playing patty-cake with AJ Mleczko. I know some fans found this to be light-hearted and entertaining, but I would’ve enjoyed this more had the Rangers been up 3-1 at the time, rather than their opponents! Photo Credit: @AJMleczko

Artemi Panarin, arguably one of the softest superstars in all of the NHL today (his reaction and ratting out the “rat” Brad Marchand is all the evidence that I need), is also one of the richest players of the entire league too.

Down two goals in a game that had the Rangers won, it would’ve been a defining statement; “The Breadman” was more focused on joking around with AJ Mleczko, rather than on trying to mount a comeback. And this guy is supposed to be a leader!

(Admittedly, had the Rangers made a comeback, and then won this game behind two Panarin goals – this wouldn’t be a story for me. In fact, I’d be laughing with the majority!)

But at least #10 in white picked up an assist tonight, even if it was of the secondary variety.

The biggest zero in this game, and has been the case all season (and often masked under the guise of the team’s winning streaks), was Rika Zibanenash, who still can’t bury a puck if his life depended on it.

At the near 35% mark of the season, I am wondering if the monsters from “SPACE JAM” have zapped him of all of his goal scoring talent. I just can’t think of a better explanation when trying to explain Zibanenash’s disappointing season thus far.

And you can make all the excuses for #93 all that you want (and if that’s your agenda, I won’t stop you), but as I’ve been repeatedly saying on this site all season – you don’t pay $8.5M for your “elite” number one center to be “streaky.” Even worse – that $8.5M per-season contract, which will run for eight years, hasn’t even kicked in yet.

I went in-depth on Zibanenash last blog (and several times before that), so I don’t want to play my “Greatest Hits” here again. After all, it’s late as I write these words, due to the 9PM EST puck drop.

However, whenever the Rangers need him the most, Zibanenash disappears as if he was Lindbergh’s baby. Perhaps even worse, is the way Zibanenash consistently whines to officials, as if he was such a baby.

Patrik Nemeth may as well have worn his old Avalanche jersey in this game, as he directly helped his former team score two goals tonight. Photo Credit: Getty Images

As this season has moseyed along, I have previously said (and numerous times at that), that if any Ranger should be traded for help prior to the deadline, it’s Filip Chytil.

While my stance hasn’t changed on that opinion; if there’s another thing the Rangers should do right now, they should give Patrik Nemeth a powder.

Whether the Rangers try a third pair of Lundkvist and Hajek, or finally give Zac Jones the rightful call-up that he richly deserves – I don’t care. Nemeth just needs a timeout.

Again, as I try to avoid playing my “Greatest Hits” here and go on-and-on about this for the millionth time; we all know why Nemeth was signed during the off-season – and also at the expense of Brendan Smith too, who the Rangers could’ve retained for one-third of the salary of Nemeth to boot. (And for all of the talk that Nemeth is here for Lundkvist – Smith was a great mentor for Kakko during the last two seasons.)

While the Rangers did sign Nemeth to play third pair minutes too; the biggest reason he was signed was to help facilitate and acclimate fellow Swede Nils Lundkvist to America. To that, I go to one of my usual talking points – coaches and organizations have to answer to twenty players, and not just one.

Yes, it’s nice that the Rangers are trying to make #27 comfortable – but it can’t be at the expense of the team either – especially if the mentor isn’t panning out.

Another cliche in a season full of them? “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.”

Some fans may argue that K’Andre Miller is weaker (especially when you compare TOI stats between #79 and #12), but this fact remains – Nemeth is doing no favors for the Rangers right now, even if he is okay at blocking shots and while on the penalty kill.

Conversely, one could also argue that both Hajek and Jones are victims of a player that was mostly signed to play the role of a baby-sitter as well.

While Adam Fox remains my favorite for the Norris Trophy (and yes there is bias here too!); for the second time in less than a week, Cale Makar had the better game between the two candidates. Even worse in this go-around – this game aired on national “TV”, where as I’ll soon get into, “TV” belongs in quotes. Photo Credit: Ryan Strome

I’ll into this Rangers/Avalanche game in-detail during the GAME REVIEW segment; but for the Rangers, they’ll have to forget about this one and hopefully rebound tomorrow night.

Fortunately for them, the worst team in the league is up next, in the woeful Arizona Coyotes. And should the Rangers lose that game – there will be fires (and rightfully so) in the streets of Rangerstown, USA. There’s just no excuse to lose to the Coyotes – even on the second half of a back-to-back.

In a word, the Coyotes are the “slump-buster” that the Rangers need right now.

Then again, you could be like my pal Derek Felix of NewYorkPuck.com, and use the words “trap game” instead. (Something he says about every game this season.) For me, I’ll go with “slump-buster!” Glass half-full here, need I remind you?

And hey – maybe Rika Zibanenash will show up in Glendale and get another fluke “puck luck” goal in that game, as he did against the lowly Buffalo Sabres.

Before getting into the NEWS segment (and there’s a lot to cover), how do you view this team?

Are you happy about being in third-place, and one point out of first place? Are you happy about winning twelve of the last sixteen games? Or are you more focused on the Rangers losing three of their last four and not having much success against the Western Conference this season?

And it should also be mentioned that following these next two games (Arizona on Wednesday and Vegas on Friday), the Rangers will then play one game in a span of nine nights, when they host the falling-apart Montreal Canadiens on 12/22 at M$G. (I wonder if Jeff Gorton makes the trip.)

That’s a lot of time in New York. More importantly, that’s a lot of practice time too – something the team hasn’t had much of as of late.

In fact, with the way Georgiev is playing (and assuming Kinkaid starts in Arizona), I wouldn’t be shocked if the Rangers hold CZAR IGOR back until after the X-mas break.

Let’s now get into the lengthier-than-usual NEWS segment.

While I am joking about a serious manner when using a graphic of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” song, regarding current woes between sports franchises and COVID-19; the reality is that the virus is once again impacting the wide world of sports. Photo Credit: Queen

As you may know, I am not a scientist, a medical professional or an expert on the coronavirus. If you’re looking for those people, just check Twitter, where misinformation from self-professed “experts” runs as rampant as this new “Omicron” variant. (And not for nothing, doesn’t “Omicron” sound like some villain out of a “Transformers” movie?)

In perhaps some irony (or at the very least – something that makes you think a bit), the last time the Rangers were in Colorado, back on March 11th, 2020, there was talk about this new “coronavirus” thing. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. I thought COVID-19 was just another Chinese virus, like SARS, like bird flu, and like any other world-wide ailment or illness – especially those originating in communist China.

As was evident – I was wrong with that line of thinking. Way wrong at that. Instead of a passing phase/virus – historians in 50, 100, 200+ years from now will all be talking about this era of time.

On March 11th, 2020, prior to that particular Rangers vs Avalanche tilt, I had a road-trip scheduled in two weeks time, where I would go watch the Rangers play in Buffalo and in Pittsburgh.

Now, almost two years later, I find the Rangers once again in Denver, while yours truly has a road-trip coming up in a few weeks time, as I plan on watching the Rangers in Vegas and in California during the beginning of January 2022.

Cruel irony? Maybe. Something to worry about, especially with money, hotels, flights, game tickets, and everything else invested in such a trip? Definitely.

While my road-trips are something of my own personal concern (and definitely not a world-wide issue); around the world of sports, athletes are now getting hit by the coronavirus – as if COVID-19 has the speed and agility of a right-left combination off of the gloves of Floyd Mayweather.

On Tuesday, December 14th, the amount of players (not just NHL exclusive) testing positive for the virus (whether legit, a false positive or just these players being asymptomatic) has hit harder than a hit from Jacob Trouba.

For instance, check out these top news stories from ESPN.com from Tuesday:

The top NHL stories. Photo Credit: ESPN.com
The top sports stories from the four major leagues and college sports. Photo Credit: ESPN.com

From an NHL perspective, over twenty players were added to the COVID-19 list within the last 24 hours, including names such as Brad Marchand, Matthew Barzal, Devon Toews and a slew of players from both the Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames organizations. In addition, it’s rumored that the Nashville Predators, who the Rangers just hosted this past Sunday night, also have an issue with positive tests.

Of note, both the Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames were forced to postpone games this week. Obviously, these two franchises don’t have a new arena to open up, unlike the Islanders last month.

Elsewhere in sports; the Chicago Bulls are now down to seven healthy players, where the NBA postponed two of their games, with perhaps more pending. The teflon NFL currently has two franchises impacted by the virus, in the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns. In addition, the NFL is now requiring players to get booster shots too.

And if you follow the UFC, an individual sport, fighters have been pulling out of fights left-and-right all year – including Amanda Nunes, who I talked about last blog – in relation to her bout with COVID-19 in comparison to Mika Zibanejad, the Rangers center who had the virus last season.

But wait, there’s more.

The New York Knicks, the Rangers co-tenant at Madison $quare Garden, are currently having issues too, with Knickerbocker Quentin Grimes now out.

It was also reported on Tuesday that the legendary Walt Frazier, a broadcaster with the Knicks, is now staying away from the team for the next two weeks. It wasn’t reported what Frazier’s affliction was, but at 76 years old, you can’t blame the guy for taking a timeout. (It should be mentioned that Rangers broadcaster Sam Rosen is 74 years old.)

In two words, all of this is “not good.”

Rather than getting away from all of this COVID crap, it now feels like things will get worse before they get better – especially in regards to the Chinese Olympic Games, which are scheduled to take place in February of 2022.

And as talked about two blogs back – if NHL players really want to go to China for the Olympic games, they are Father Finkin’ nuts.  You can’t convince me otherwise. (Refer to that blog for more, as I won’t go into repeat-mode on this topic.)

However, that decision may soon be made for them, especially if there a bunch of NHL games to be made-up. (And if you’re an NHLer on a playoff-bound team, do you really want to run the risk of being shelved for at least three weeks, due to Chinese quarantine mandates, mandates which will be enforced by some authorities that may not be on the level?)

The last thing the NHL needs is going back to games played in front of a Buffalo Sabres crowd – aka an empty arena.

I don’t preach to you on this site. I don’t care if you’re vaccinated or not. It’s not my business. To each their own. Everyone has to make their own decisions, and unlike others – I don’t feel like I have a right to tell people what to do.

As you know by now (since you need to be vaccinated to attend Ranger games both at M$G and at other arenas on the road); I am vaccinated. However, I do question the effectiveness of these vaccines. (And really, doesn’t the definition of the word “vaccine” imply 100% effectiveness?)

After all, how are all these young men and women, in their prime of their lives, and in much superior peak condition than 99% of the world’s population; constantly testing positive for the virus, despite being vaccinated?

You’d have to think that the fans who pay to see these players would be more susceptible of contracting the virus, rather than the players themselves. Or at least, that’s the way I view it.

I know the argument against this, such as these players/athletes are constantly traveling, thus increasing their chances of testing positive.

As a rebuttal, I say that these guys aren’t all jammed up and squished together, like a bunch of common Joe Schmos, sitting on a most likely delayed “Spirits” airline flight. Far from it.

Instead, these players/teams are flying by themselves on team planes, where once arriving to their destination, they are either going to their own homes or entering a hotel, where these teams have floors to themselves.

Again, as stated at the top of this – I’m not a scientist, a medical professional or an expert. However, from what I read (and as we all know, this stuff changes constantly), people with worse health conditions (in this case, the fans), are more likely to contract the virus than people who keep themselves in tip-top shape (in this case, the players/athletes.)

I am aware that many players who test positive don’t necessarily have the virus; but in most of these cases from this past Monday and Tuesday – these players, without a shadow of a doubt, are carrying the virus.

I will never sell fear to you readers, but I must admit that the word “pause” had come to my mind on Tuesday.

As mentioned a few blogs back, all of this coronavirus stuff (and the reactions to it), is all on-the-fly. There’s no precedent set or manual textbook on what to do.

Selfishly, I hope the cliche once coined by Wayne and Garth, “GAME ON”, will be the mindset. However, I am not 100% confident, especially if numbers continue to rise.

Enough about this topic that I hate writing about. Let’s now get into the Rangers news which took place prior to tonight’s game.

Last week, I thought CZAR IGOR would be able to return for this game. However, with no practice on Monday, the current Vezina contender still remains on the IR. Photo Credit: NYR

Following an early afternoon pregame skate; head coach Gerard Gallant met with the media, in an interview that looked like it was conducted in some Taliban bunker, due to the poor lighting and close camera shots. To watch Gallant speak, click the play button below:

As far as what Gallant said during this brief interrogation, the head coach mentioned that CZAR IGOR was still on the IR. While Gallant wouldn’t out-right name Alexandar Georgiev as his starting goaltender – he left enough crumbs for everyone to figure out that good old Al G. would be in net.

When it comes to shortening his bench during the 1-0 loss to Nashville, where both Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko had their ice time slashed a bit; Gallant (and as originally suggested in this space on Sunday), said it was a one-game thing and not a permanent thing.

I also liked that Gallant called out Alexis Lafreniere for being “too cute” and then getting “upset” when the cuteness doesn’t payoff. I mentioned this during my Rangers/Nashville game review, where Lafreniere tried to razzle-dazzle too much, where I thought it cost him.

With Nils Lundkvist still out of the line-up (non-COVID illness – or at least that’s what they’re saying!), here was what Gallant went with tonight:

FIRST LINE: Kreider/Mika/Kakko

SECOND LINE: Panarin/Strome/Hunt

THIRD LINE: Lafreniere/Chytil/Gauthier

FOURTH LINE: Rooney/Goodrow/Reaves

FIRST D-PAIR: Lindgren/Fox

SECOND D-PAIR: Miller/Trouba

THIRD D-PAIR: Nemeth/Hajek

And in net, Alexandar Georgiev


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





28 2 26 .929 23 0 3 0 0 59:37 0


31 4 27 .871 18 0 9 0 0 56:45 0

As talked about last blog, and as mentioned when the NHL first struck their deal with ESPN; cable is going the way of the dodo bird. Photo Credit: ESPN+

Tonight’s game was the first of three Ranger games this season as an ESPN+ and Hulu exclusive. It was also probably the first game this season where a lot of New York based IP addresses logged onto the NHL66 website.

Of note, I don’t have Hulu, but as mentioned many times before, I do have ESPN+. In fact, I’m a day one ESPN+ subscriber, as ESPN+ is the platform for a ton of exclusive marquee UFC cards. (The NHL and UFC are my two favorite sport leagues that I follow.)

I know that these digital platform streamers are a deterrent to older fans, people who pay insane costs for cable, and for people who live in desolate areas where the WiFi may not be strong. Unfortunately for them (and for everyone else), this is where all of these sports leagues are heading. Cable is being phased out, and as Al Gore once said nearly thirty years ago – the internet is the wave of the future.

And for people who don’t want to pay for streaming services (or cable) either, there are always links out there to watch these games too – as legal or as illegal as they may be.

Of course, illegal streamers also tend to be younger, which in turn – still leaves old-time fans in the dark. I mean think about it – do you think Sam Rosen is fuddling around with NHL66 links?

“OH JOE, I found foot-fetish porn Joe!”


On the bright side, with this game being an ESPN+ game exclusive, that meant no Steve Valiquette tonight! Winning!

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of a pregame show either, but if that’s what it takes to get Vally off of my TV-I’m sold!

With ESPN+ having the rights to this broadcast, the duo of Bob Wischusen and Brian Boucher handled the commentary.

Of note, AJ Mleczko (between the glass) makes me miss the FABULOUS Joe Micheletti. Why these networks have an Islander homer on a Ranger broadcast is beyond me. (Unlike others, I don’t care if she’s a woman. I only care about her disgusting Islander affiliation!)

And for what it’s worth, I liked the ESPN+ broadcast. It had an “NFL” feel to it, meaning that during breaks, they would flash to other games around the league. (SportsNet out of Canada does this too, something that American networks do not do.)

If there was anything I didn’t like, it were all the “seizure-inducing” power-play camera angles, as the camera bobbled around behind the goaltender like a buoy. It’s nice that ESPN can feature these angles, but just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should.

Game Review time.

Outside of the fourth-and-final goal; I thought Georgiev had a stellar night in net, where I wouldn’t blame him for the previous three goals that he allowed in the contest. Photo Credit: NYR

Based on the few fans that I talked to after the game (and from what I saw on the broadcast too); the crowd make-up at the Ball Arena (no longer the Pepsi Center or whatever it was called), was 60% in favor of Colorado, and 40% in favor of the road team.

I mentioned this a few years back (when I attended a Rangers vs Avalanche game in Denver), but there are a ton of New York transplants in Colorado. Plus, Denver is a great city to visit too.

I bring this up to say, that during the game, there were a ton of “LET’S GO RANGERS!” chants. There was also booing for Jacob Trouba too, where that mostly took place during the first several minutes of the game, only to be drowned out for good by the repeated LGR chants.

And I should also mention that Colorado was without captain Gabriel Landeskog (who despite his absence, still had a better game than Zibanenash) and Devon Toews (COVID protocol.) Even with two of the Av’s regulars out, the Rangers couldn’t muster up much, at least not until the final three-and-a-half minutes or so.

In a word, the first period was pretty “dreadful” for the Rangers.

Not even a minute into the game, Georgiev had already made two saves and Colorado added three more shot attempts on top of that – where they channeled Zibanenash and Chytil by going high-and-wide.

After Fox had a “Craig’s List Missed Connection” with Rooney, Zibanenash then put a soft shot on net – an easy save for Kuemper.

Panarin, who lives-and-dies with his cross-ice passing, then turned over a puck in the offensive zone. On the next possession, Fox found Gauthier after a two-line pass, but #15 coughed up the puck.

I should also mention here, that ESPN+ had former official Dave Jackson on the broadcast, just like how these NFL telecasts have retired officials on their broadcasts.

Say what you want about Jackson, but I thought the idea of copy-catting the NFL here was a good one. Now if only ESPN+ would give us a pregame show like the NFL does too!

Georgiev, as he’s done since CZAR IGOR went down, was strong throughout, despite the never-ending Ranger turnover parade.

Six minutes and change in, and after what felt like one of 765675768567856785 turnovers in this game; Georgiev denied O’Connor on a one-timer, the same O’Connor who posted two quick goals on Adam Huska from this past Wednesday night.

It was also around this point on the broadcast where we saw that Chris Drury, now newly minted as the assistant GM for the USA Hockey team, was in the house. Perhaps he was catching up with former teammate, and his executive peer, Joe Sakic.

And yes – let’s hope that Drury doesn’t have to do much, at least in regards to American NHLers, during these upcoming Chinese Games. Let the AHLers and amateurs go there if they want.

And to callback to another item from tonight’s NEWS segment; this game began one official shy, as that referee was waiting for his COVID-19 test result. You’d think that would be taken care of way in advance, and not right before puck drop. The official would later join the game in-progress.

After a nice stay in the Colorado defensive zone from the Strome line and the Fox/Lindgren pairing, with 11:18 remaining in the period, Nemeth took a seat in the sin-bin after holding Valeri Nichushkin.

Two things here. One, Nemeth was brutal tonight. Two, Nichushkin completely owned the Rangers tonight.

Georgiev, as he was for the majority of the game, was huge on this penalty kill (nine short-handed saves in all). Right after the kill, #40 came up big again, stopping Aube-Kubel on a breakaway.

However, with 7:42 to go in the period, the Av’s struck first, as the perennial Hart Trophy Finalist, Nate MacKinnon, swooped around the net and was left all alone by Hajek and Nemeth. Also left alone was Rantanen, who scored an easy tap-in goal untouched. 1-0 bad guys. This goal was completely on the defense (Nemeth more than Hajek), and had nothing to do with Georgiev.

On the next Rangers possession, Rika Zibanenash, with a chance to gain momentum and tie the game, decided to leave rubber marks on the corner boards, rather than shooting at the goal while two feet away.

As the period progressed, the Rangers nearly went nine minutes without a shot on goal, until Hajek flung an innocent puck at Kuemper.

With 2:19 remaining, Rooney was boxed for tripping Rantanen. Thirty seconds later, with Patrik Nemeth completely screening Georgiev, as if it was his sole intention in life; Cale Makar shot a puck from the point for the easy power-play goal. 2-0 bad guys.

And yep – “special teams swing games.”

After twenty minutes, and a period which looked like “men vs boys”, the scoreboard read as bad guys 2 – good guys 0.

I like Ryan Strome, but I have no clue what he was talking about when he said the Rangers played well tonight. In my eyes, this was another game where the Rangers looked off for long stretches of time. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Opening up the second frame saw Ryan Lindgren drawing Andre Burakovsky for a cross-check, thus giving the Rangers an early power-play, just 1:22 into the period.

The Rangers PP1 unit once again struggled, just as they did last Wednesday against this Colorado PK. One minute in, they were off and the PP2 unit came on, where they too had little success – especially after Dryden Hunt was nailed for interference with 43 seconds remaining on the Rangers man-advantage.

And needless to say, this call on Hunt was BULLSHIT. The ESPN broadcasters (and Jackson) said as much too.

Eventually, with 15:20 remaining, the two teams went back to full-strength. Chytil would get a great opportunity against Kuemper, but as usual, couldn’t finish.

With 13:35 remaining, Hunt was cross-checked into Kuemper’s net by “former friend” Jack Johnson. This time, the Rangers PP1 unit dominated the puck, but too much fancy passing and not enough shots on goal. Despite playing 1:55 of the two minute power-play – once again, the PP1 unit came up empty-handed.

As we approached the half-way mark of the game and period; Ryan Reaves and Kurtis MacDermid had an inspiring tilt, where haymakers, rabbit punches and jabs were thrown. MacDermid fell on top of Reaves, thus giving him the win in this battle – even if Reaves didn’t really look like a “loser” here.

(It should also be mentioned that MacDermid wears a visor. Reaves does not. In other words, this gives MacDermid an advantage.)

Maybe the fight inspired the Rangers a bit, as with 9:24 to go, Adam Fox rifled a puck towards Ryan Strome and the puck took a bounce off of #16’s shaft and right by Kuemper. 2-1!

This play was similar to several plays that we’ve seen out of #23 all season, as he magically finds these deflection goals with his pin-point precision passing. And with Strome in a contract year, maybe that’s why he said the Rangers played well tonight!

(And to be clear, I’m not knocking Strome at all. He should be riling up the troops. He’s more of a leader to me than any of the other alternate captains on the team.)

The Rangers, now within one, had a chance to tie it.

Zibanenash soon had a mini breakaway, but you know the rest. Even worse was this new wrinkle, where he blatantly held Jack Johnson while behind Kuemper’s net. Inexcusable o-zone penalty, especially considering the player that Zibanenash committed the offense against.

After the Bulgarian Beast did his job during the PK; we returned to full strength with about five minutes and change remaining.

Up next was turnover-after-turnover, where it had to be intentional because there is no way any team could do this on purpose, much less succeed at it.

Georgiev bailed out Miller, Zibanenash and others, making every save after all of these turnovers.

However, with 75 seconds remaining, it was one turnover too many (including Chytil flubbing a puck on a 3 x 2 odd-man rush), which led to Nichushkin scoring an easy goal. 3-1, bad guys.

Despite looking like the better team of the second period, each team recorded a goal, and we remained 3-1 entering the final frame.

I haven’t really mentioned Trouba much tonight, but I thought he played well again. He was shooting the puck and led the team in blocked shots, with four in all.

Ninety seconds into the third period, Trouba went around Kuemper’s net and shot the puck – a good save for the Av’s netminder.

As Fox screened Georgiev, the Rangers goaltender still made a save, where he denied Aube-Kubel again.

During one sequence, Lafreniere committed three turnovers on a shift. Brutal.

Five minutes into the period, Georgiev got a reprieve, when O’Connor had MacDermid wide-open for a tap-in goal, but the bruiser couldn’t handle the puck. This should’ve been 4-1 here.

However, Colorado would have more chances, where Georgiev kept the Rangers alive with each save, 27 in all tonight.

With 12:29 remaining, Kakko, who couldn’t clear a puck during this time, took a slashing penalty, which then put the Avs on the power-play again.

Of note, the Rangers PK killed five of six penalties tonight. This also tells you that they were in the box for 20% of the game. Not a recipe for success. And most certainly not a recipe for success against this heralded opponent.

Now approaching ten minutes remaining, and after more solid work out of Georgiev; the two teams returned to full-strength.

Three minutes later, Libor Hajek found himself in the box, after airmailing a puck over the glass for a delay of game call.

With 7:30 to go, Colorado seemingly found the “Ball” game over goal, after Compher scored. However, on replay, Compher made contact with Georgiev, including bumping into #40’s head.

After a lengthy video review/Gallant challenge, the referees took away the goal, reverting the score back to 3-1. The game was still alive.

However, following the review (a smart challenge by Gallant, because at this point in the game you had nothing to lose), Colorado still had 1:33 worth of power-play time. Again, Georgiev did his job in net.

With 3:42 remaining, Gallant pulled Georgiev for the extra attacker. From this point on, I think the Rangers had ten shots on goal during all of this, as they were constantly going to the net. Hell, they were even winning every face-off too – a rarity!

Just about at the two-minute warning mark, Dryden Hunt fired a puck at Kuemper. Kuemper misjudged the puck, bobbled it, and there was Julien Gauthier for the backhanded rebound. 3-2, bad guys – the Rangers still had life!

It should also be mentioned, that prior to Gauthier’s goal; just seconds prior, Alexis Lafreniere denied Kadri of scoring an empty-netter. This was the only time where Lafreniere was noticeable all game, but without this shot block, Gauthier never scores.

With about sixty ticks remaining, the comeback was almost complete, as Fox found Kreider, and despite his success all season and two whacks and cracks here – CK20 couldn’t find the equalizer.

I really thought he had it at the time too, as he was right there. I am still wondering how that puck didn’t go in. No joke, in real-time, I jumped off of my couch. I was certain that Kreider was going to bury it.

(And yes, had that puck went in, the tone of this blog would be extremely different.)

Sadly, after winning every faceoff, and creating all of these scoring opportunities for a time-span of just over three minutes; the Rangers then lost a center ice faceoff. Zibanenash and Panarin just watched, as Valeri Nichushkin beat Georgiev, on a breakaway, with 37 seconds remaining.

4-2, bad guys, 4-2 bad guys, your final.

It’s official!

While these game reviews always come in long-form, here is a quick synopsis – the Avalanche stars came to play. The Rangers stars did not. Yeah, Fox was great, but Makar was better. Yeah, Panarin got an assist, but Rantanen was better. And Rika Zibanenash looks just as confused as a Times Square tourist.

(And I know I said this last season, but it’s worth saying again – I think a lot of Mika’s problems are mental. I don’t know if he talks to a sports psychologist or not, but it’s an idea worth exploring.)

Let’s hope it all changes tomorrow night.

PLUGS TIME and then I’m out!

Up first, “The Blueshirt Underground Show” returned on Monday night. To hear their take on the Rangers (and some FABULOUS talk on Eleanor Roosevelt too), click the play button below:


The hardcover version of my book, available now at Amazon.com

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”.

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 18 signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (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/CHI 12/7 Review: Streaking Rangers Abuse Blackhawks in a Complete Team Wide Victory; Red-Hot Jacob Trouba’s Gordie Howe Hat Trick, Panarin 500, Adam Norris & Fourth Line Dominate, Special Teams Swing Games; Blueshirt Perfection, Georgiev, Zibanenash & More

Elder Statesman & Leader Ryan Reaves Continues To Do All The Right Things; Another Amazing Interview, NYR Goalies, Flyers Literally Get Pooped On; Vigneault Figuratively Pooped on Too, Horses vs Dogs, Hayes/Giroux vs Miller, Lafreniere vs Isles, Ruff’s Hot Seat & More

If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:

Right back at it Wednesday night, against the tax cheats known as the Kachina. Photo Credit: Arizona Coyotes

Up next: the final leg of the road-trip, against the bottom-of-the-barrel Arizona Coyotes.

Stay FABULOUS my friends.

As always here, thanks for reading and…


Sean McCaffrey


@NYCTHEMIC on Tweeter

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14 thoughts on “NYR/COL 12/14 Review: Rangers Fail Litmus Test, Zibanenash Continues “Missing Mika” Act; Panarin Plays Patty-Cake with AJ, Lack of Focus, Nemeth Needs a Powder, IgoR, COVID-MANIA Runnin’ Rampant; The “Pause” Word, ESPN+ Thoughts, Gallant & More

  1. NYR didn’t have Igor, Avs didn’t have Landesgog.

    This team is still too much cross ice passing, too much perimeter, not enough bodies and pucks to the net. Talented as Panarin and Zib may be, this is not going far in the playoffs. Facing a good team like the Avs, they’ve seen the tape and they’ll let you do it. Looks pretty, doesn’t accomplish much. As a measruings tick, NYR came up very small tonight. And yet they didn’t quit, and were one Kreider wrister from a tie at 59 minutes.

    3rd line gave them nothing. Chytil thinks his job is gaining the blue line and then changing lines. Fans are all over Laf, but playing with a nonentity like Chytil, who knows.

    Final point; by eyeballs this was not a 6-2 penalty disparity game. The call on Hunt was complete nonsense; it took a PP away from NYR and gave one to the Avs because Hunt tried to stay on side? This was Tim Donaghy shit. Were I in charge of refs, this crew is getting called in, having their phones dumped and seriously questioned. That was beyond terrible and looked crooked as shit. This looked beyond incompetence.

    1. NYR didn’t have Igor, but that wasn’t the issue to me in this loss.

      You are 100% right about the Hunt penalty. Shame that couldn’t be reviewed.

  2. Sean, you might be right about the need for a pause in all professional sports to slow the spread of the COVID 19 pandemic, but you’re wrong about the idea that the word “vaccine” implies “100% effectiveness.” No vaccine has ever been 100% effective. Even the polio and smallpox vaccines, which virtually eliminated those diseases, were only around 95%+ effective. We need new flu shots every year because flu viruses, like COVID 19, are constantly mutating and producing new strains that can more efficiently infect and sicken their hosts. A vaccine can only approach 100% effectiveness if 100% of the population gets promptly vaccinated before the virus has time to mutate into a new form. That’s a tall order, especially in poor countries that don’t have the ability to mount mass vaccination programs or in ideologically divided countries like USA, where partisans keep broadcasting anti-vaccine propaganda that discourages large segments of the population from getting vaccinated.

    I think you’re right about Zibanejad continuing to suffer long term effects from last season’s COVID 19 illness. He’s still an elite professional athlete with physical skills exceeding around 98% of the population, but practically every night he has to face other elite professionals functioning at the 99% level, and he’s not quite back to that level yet. Maybe he’ll never get back there, but let’s hope he does.

    1. Bill
      Tell me, what good is the case and death total data when it can be demonstratively proven a test they have used 100’s of millions of times to collect this data is completely faulty?

      ………and if that data is all wrong and wrong with an extreme built in tendency toward positive results as its confirmation bias what can we conclude from a scientific experiment that would use such obviously faulty data?…..or the scientists running that experiment?…….I know what I conclude when I see this same sort of data shenanighans in finance and markets so why should I conclude any differently if I see it in medicine?……….I call it fraud in those cases because that is what is always has proven to be and always is.

      They have always known that the PCR tests spits out false positives at cycle thresholds over 28 yet they have used this test……….100’s of millions?………is it safe to say billions?………and they have been doing this at cycles over 30 even going as far as 40 cycles where 90% of the totals are false positives………….why would they do this and why should I trust this data?

    2. Bill
      I am much like Sean in my attitude about the vaccine in that if people want to take it……go ahead, knock yourself out and get it but just don’t ask me to take it or lay this very foolish…..”do you have a PHD” straw man argument on me about my concerns because my concerns are very well considered and they are serious.

      No I dont have a PHD, do you Bill?
      Then if I cant know anything about what I am speaking about because I don’t have a PHD in that subject then how could you know I am wrong about that subject when you don’t have a PHD in that very same subject?

      Gee it looks like we will need a PHD to sort this one out!

      Any layman with no college level academic background at all can go over this C19 history and easily discredit much that has went on and from a scientific basis………..you should not have to have a PHD for that

      The amount of both medical and financial fraud going on with this C19 vaccine I find……..astonishing……..

      What kind of argument is this?

      “where partisans keep broadcasting anti-vaccine propaganda that discourages large segments of the population from getting vaccinated.”

    3. Bill and Sean

      I will issue you guys a challenge
      I will list a concern I have that is extremely serious and profoundly disturbing about these C19 vaccines.
      I challenge you then to “debunk” my concern using any and all research from the most authoritative sources you can find.
      Then I will quickly debunk your debunkers.

      My concern is this

      This Mrna technology and vaccines are so utterly and fantastically NOVEL that it should be mind boggling to anyone that they would try and roll this out to literally billions of people!!!

      I know you can find a million articles “debunking” that……..skim a few

      The thing I want you guys to see in this is how all these other official sources are tricking people with sophist arguments leading one to believe Mrna is not all that new or novel and has a long history……………..how can a person be expected to give informed consent when the official sources supplying the information are misinforming them in the first place?

      Dont wonder why some hack PM in the EU was recently calling for the revocation of the Nuremberg Code cause the preceding paragraph to this one contains all you need to know about that.

      I am not arguing or trying to wind you guys up but what I am trying to do is to jog both of your thinking processes and have you analyze this situation with more confidence in your own opinions about your own analysis………you have to research everything these days as if you are your own investigative reporter and journalist and then trust your own critical thinking abilities

    4. Ontario teams just announced 50% capacity today. Ugh.

      Yeah, I guess I was thinking about vaccines for previous diseases, like you mentioned, which no longer exist. No one is getting the Bubonic Plague these days. Thanks for your explanation.

      I don’t know if you watch UFC, but when I saw that Nunes fight and how out of sorts she was, it brought me right to Zibanejad. He’d never admit though, at least not until the end of the season.

  3. Bill
    You are telling us about C19 disinformation and misinformation from the general public about C19?

    Why not start with a much more relevant analysis of all of the misinformation and disinformation being spread by our most trusted sources everywhere about labs, vaccines, data, from our official medical bodies and government officials and agencies to the most esteemed medical journals in the world like the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine.

    You can start this analysis by establishing a timeline of reporting for the C19 outbreak overall and then reading the very first article (singular) to appear in any western media outlet about the Wuhan Institute of Virology a level 4 biological research lab located inside mainland China………..then follow what the official reaction to this first article was that came from all of western media, academia and even our most distinguished scientific bodies for the next 16 months?

    I would ask any medical authority at any level to debunk this……….any scientific authority that would recommend rolling out this fantastically novel drug treatment to literally 100’s of millions of kids under age of 17 around the world when statistically it is easily proven they are not at risk is engaging in medical fraud because this is an obvious violation of the very first principals of medical ethics as a discipline and on a colossal scale.

  4. Sean and Bill

    This is something both you guys may be unaware of and that is how easy it was to completely deconstruct what went on at the Wuhan Lab after just one single story about it appeared on Zero Hedge in Jan 2020 only a month after this started…………that very night both of you guys could have known more about what was going on in Wuhan than the entire western media establishment pretended not to know for the next 16 months!………….and all of it public record involving easily available academic research abstracts……….it was all there using any search bar…………..yet everywhere and I mean everywhere in politics, media, academia that story was condemned as conspiracy theory and even worse as xenophobia and racism for months and months and months……..it was maddening……….and you should see the high level sources at The Lancet for instance……the WHO……the CDC…….the New England Journal of Medicine promoting that straw man ad hominem garbage argument and the scientist’s they allowed to make that case in the Lancet (a most prestigious medical journal my dear boy….yea sure!)………..Draszak from Eco Health Alliance……………and yes gentlemen at that very moment the plot thickened mightily in this contrivance……..heh……..call it what you want but believe me all of the above is easily verified

    The Lancet was also involved a month in a fraudulent hydroxychloroquine study that was so egregious it could be easily looked at as an attempt to aid financial fraud and that on such a monetary level it boggles the imagination……100’s of billions?…..but they did it and the politicians, media, academics can all pretend to be oblivious about this but I assure you that does not mean it did not happen or that if it did happen it must be a trivial event with only minor implications……..no, it happened all right and I would not describe it as trivial, more like profound and the implications enormous both in medicine and finance.

    Ok I dont want to turn Seans blog into……..Zap’s Vaccine Skeptic Page.

  5. Zap, thanks for your comments. Lots of content, but I didn’t see the part where you demonstrated that 800,000 dead bodies in the USA were not caused by COVID 19 or the part where you demonstrated that the incidence of the disease is not higher in States with low vaccination rates than in States with high rates.

    I agree with you that financial data is a lot easier to fake than epidemiological data. DJT is the best example. He got away with 50 years of various financial frauds, but he went straight to Walter Reed Medical Center for life saving treatment right after he caught COVID.

    1. Two questions that do not follow or refer to anything I said and then a heap of Trump!…..Trump!…..Trump!

      Ya know what Trump did?

      Yea he was like Obama and the Clinton’s and the Bush’ and Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon and all the others, he was a real jerk.

      But what the hell does he have to do with anything here, what is he some kind of all purpose straw man?

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