Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. It was perhaps as ugly as the state of the Flyers themselves, but the end result, the Rangers’ 6-3 win in Balboa Town, is all that matters.
As previously mentioned on this site during the past 48 hours, I attended Saturday night’s game at the Wells Fargo Center. I was originally going to skip doing a recap due to all of my travel and lack of sleep – but there was no way I could ignore this win – the Rangers sixth in a row!
Since I was there, rather than on my couch; in turn, I didn’t “live tweet” this game, tweets that I use as notes whenever writing one of these game review blogs.
Furthermore, since time is a major factor because the Rangers play later tonight in Chicago, where you will hear about the Patrick Kane rumors for three consecutive hours on the exclusive ESPN broadcast – this “game review” will be different than the norm.
(Plus – I’d like to work-in a nap sometime today too!)
Rather than giving you the usual play-by-play and rundown; instead, I’m just going to give you my thoughts and opinions from the game, every Ranger on the roster, the arena and what I saw & heard in Philadelphia.
In a word – Saturday was a “PERFECT” day for me.
Everything that could go right went right, except for these three following things, things that won’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things to you:
— The Rangers didn’t win by a final score of 4-0, so my daily prop bet/lottery ticket has now cost me $160 this season. However, my Jacob Trouba anytime goal scorer prop bet hit, and since I hammered the Rangers to win too – to paraphrase birdbrain Mollie Walker – “I don’t give a shit about losing $160 on 4-0 bets!”
— My buddy EDDIE WHISTLES went 0-3 in football gambling – where I couldn’t escape the word “gambling” during my brief stay in Philadelphia.
No joke, gambling has taken over the world – as you know.
During my travels on the road, I saw no less than 96789678967967896896 signs for sports gambling operators and casinos – including the “LIVE” casino, located next door to the sporting complex in Philly.
Once inside the arena, I was bombarded by BET RIVERS employees – where it felt like they would even follow you into the shitter and demand that you sign up with them.
And of course – the amount of signage for gambling couldn’t be missed – as I saw more gambling company logos than Flyer logos inside of the Wells Fargo Center.
Finally while on this – do we really need all of these relentless pushes and reminders that sports gambling exists? By now, if you want to place a wager – I don’t think you need to be told how to do it.
— K’Andre Miller’s highlight reel goal, Harlem Globetrotter goal, best lookin’ goal of the season – you name it and that’s what it was – happened on the other end of the ice from where I was sitting.
Too bad this goal wasn’t scored during the odd-numbered periods, as I was sitting eleven rows away from where the Rangers shot twice!
Aside from those three things, everything else couldn’t have worked out better.
Let me count the ways:
— In the first omen that this day and night would be perfect – yours truly, my buddy “TEN O’CLOCK TOMMY,” and his father too, all left Long Island at 2:15PM. By 4:15PM – we were in Philadelphia. In comparison, it takes me an hour, by train, to get to M$G.
— For fellow New Yorkers, especially Long Islanders (and perhaps George “Koko” Costanza too); you can appreciate this. It was smooth sailing the whole way, where during both ends of our trip, going there and coming home – we didn’t hit one ounce of traffic. I should’ve bought a lotto ticket because I can’t remember the last time where I didn’t sit on both the Belt Parkway and Staten Island Expressway for hours on end! (The last time I went to Atlantic City, a comparable drive to Philadelphia, it took me four hours to get there. Ugh!)
— During our time in the car, we listened to a pair of extremely exciting football games, the Vikings’ comeback over the Colts (biggest comeback in NFL history) and the Bills snowstorm win over the Dolphins. These two games made the ride go by even quicker for us.
— We encountered no issues at all. Going into this game, and especially with my friend’s 75-year old dad with us, I was hoping for no bullshit with drunken Flyer fans. There was none of that at all. In fact, the complete opposite. More on this to come too.
— Whenever “pre-gaming” before Ranger games at M$G, I expect to blow at least $100 on food and drinks. Since Tommy did the driving and his dad’s EZ Pass breezed us through the tolls, I covered our meal at a hell of a bar/restaurant, the famous “Chickie’s and Pete’s.” Three meals and several rounds of drinks, including tip, ran me less than $100!
— And of course, after all of the time in the car and in Philadelphia too – the Rangers handled business! Had they lost, all of the positive vibes and perfect day would’ve been a waste!
Once arriving to Philadelphia, we hit “Chickie’s and Pete’s” – where right away – I knew we were in for a good night.
Due to the Flyers currently in a major state of turmoil, combined with both the Rangers’ recent winning streak and the fact that this game was played on a Saturday night – half of the bar’s patrons were decked out in blue apparel.
I’m not exaggerating either – for every Flyer jersey, shirt or hoodie that you saw – there was a Ranger jersey, shirt or hoodie too.
Once inside of the Wells Fargo Center, located two minutes away from the bar/restaurant, this remained true.
I can only talk about what I saw (from the lower-bowl), but I thought the crowd was a 50/50 split between these two fan-bases.
I saw others suggest 60/40, in favor of the home team, but in any event – Ranger fans continue to travel well – and they were heard.
Speaking of being heard; I’m sure you heard it on television too – anytime that Tony DeAngelo touched the puck tonight, he was vociferously booed – by Ranger fans – and not by Flyer fans – despite the former Blueshirt’s plus/minus stat of negative five.
I’m not going to go into the whole DeAngelo spiel again; but as mentioned before on this site, he’s worked his way into becoming the biggest villain in Rangerstown, USA today – where ever since his departure – he’s now the millennial generation’s version of Denis Potvin.
No joke, I’m currently working on my next book, “The Top 100 Villains of Rangers’ History” (working title), and despite if I don’t view him as the second coming of Satan, as many others do – I can’t ignore what I see and hear.
He’s up there and no one in the league today receives more derision from Blueshirt backers than DeAngelo.
That all said, I did find it somewhat callous that Ranger fans trolled the hell out of Tony again – just because his grandmother had recently passed away and this was his first game back since her death.
Conversely, had the roles been reversed – I’m sure that Flyer fans would’ve done the same thing to a Ranger – or at the very least – a previous generation of orange-and-black fans.
It’s just what the rivalry is, where it doesn’t matter if a family member passes away, someone has a threatening illness, or some other battle with a negative event – fans will be fans – and will always get on the players from the opposing team.
I was trying to rack my brain to come up with a recent comparison to what DeAngelo went through, but even when Martin St. Louis’ mother passed away during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and despite MSL torching the Penguins following her passing – not once can I recall fans of the black-and-yellow booing #26.
Go figure – Ranger fans have become more savage than Flyer fans – and with the building largely dressed in blue – speaks to the current “culture” in Philadelphia today.
Put it this way: I didn’t see one fight in the stands tonight. The few Flyer fans I spoke with couldn’t have been anymore respectful. There was no bullshit in the bathrooms, where usually, intoxicated customers, with a bladder full of booze, can get chatty.
Instead, during all of my travels in Philadelphia, I heard this from Flyer fans – “they suck, Torts doesn’t know what he’s doing, this team is a mess,” and “Chuck Fletcher needs to be fired.” I even saw two fans wearing t-shirts with “FIRE FLETCHER” on the front.
And to his credit, Jim S., of “The Blueshirt Underground Show,” pretty much told me this would all happen prior to the game.
As a PA resident, and someone who’s been to more games in Philadelphia than me, Jim had a better pulse on Flyer fans than what I expected.
Seriously, I never thought I’d write these words on this site: “Flyer fans were respectful, kind, courteous and took out their frustrations on their own team, rather than taking them out on Ranger fans nearby.”
Suffice to say – the days of “The Broad Street Bullies” are long behind us.
Since time and sleep are an issue (and I have to do my laundry too and get my work clothes clean for the week); let’s do a different style of recap today.
Rather than the usual play-by-play; instead, a thought or two on every player that skated tonight, followed by some general thoughts about the game and then the finish.
Here was tonight’s line-up, where I’ll let you try to figure it out:
FIRST LINE: Breadman/Swedish Jesus/Cup Champ
SECOND LINE: Score some goals please/Stay Healthy please/Finnish please
THIRD LINE: CK52/Ding/Hobey Baker
FOURTH LINE: Blais Day/JONNY HOCKEY/Tooth Boy
FIRST PAIR: Warrior/Norris
SECOND PAIR: Miller Time/Cappy
THIRD PAIR: Eff Tinordi/Next Norris
STARTING GOALIE: HALAKNESS MONSTER
BACK-UP CZAR IGOR
And for the sake of posterity, our usual ESPN box score graphics:
C. Hart G
J. Halak G
(Alphabetical order by position)
SAMMY BLAIS: Blais, back in the line-up after his one-game scratch, looked okay to me. In fact, I thought the fourth line, for the most part, did their job, except for the player that you’d expect I’d rag on. For #91, he was engaged, put four shots on goal and had a few hits too.
JONNY BRODZINSKI: I thought JONNY HOCKEY was the fourth line’s most active player and generated all of their scoring chances. As friend of the site, Steve S., always reminds me; the Rangers are now 6-0 (UNDEFEATED) with “Jonny Broadway” in the line-up.
FILIP CHYTIL: I saw more of the same out of the Czech. He came up with several good scoring chances – the usual, but also as usual – #72 was horrendous at the dots, where he finished one of six overall (16.7%).
I know this is tough to pull off, but since Lafreniere has had success in the past with faceoffs – it may be time to just let him take these draws.
JULIEN GAUTHIER: Number 12 was scratched tonight, as perhaps we may see the pair of French-Canadians, Gauthier and Blais, rotate in-and-out until Kravtsov is traded or needs another timeout in the dentist’s chair.
BARCLAY GOODROW: The man who has boosted the economy of the tissue industry, as once again – ANALytical and millennial fans were crying their eyes out over the first line winger, as #21 continues to debunk all of their junk – the two-time Cup champ finished the game with one goal, one assist and a game-high plus/minus rating of +3.
But sure, tell me more about some malcontent with no successful track record to speak of!
Even funnier, the clueless and feckless beat reporters trying to “challenge” Mr. “GOODY GOT IT,” where these bozos acted in complete shock over Goodrow’s picture-perfect pass to Panarin on the team’s first goal of the game.
One more time – yes, in a perfect world, Goodrow is perhaps better suited in a bottom six role. However, the Rangers lack top six right wingers – and Goodrow, along with another player that these idiots hate, Jimmy Vesey – just continues to shine and does it all – both offensively and defensively.
KAAPO KAKKO: The Finn “finnished” tonight, and scored a rare goal – a goal awarded as he was going to an empty net and with DeAngelo slashing him. However, they all count!
For the most part, I thought Kakko played well, but these stats, real stats, still remain concerning:
VITALI KRAVTSOV: For the second game since his return; once again, I thought he was the team’s least effective skater.
Yes, we all know that I’m not a fan of his (but I do want him to do well – it helps his trade value), but the most noticeable thing I saw him do, despite failing to score following a perfect set-up from Schneider, was when during a late scrum, featuring the Rangers’ fourth line and first-pair; #74 stayed back, waited for the officials to peel Kravtsov’s four teammates off of the Flyers – and then, and only then – did Kravtsov skate to the action. That won’t fly in the playoffs – but I don’t suspect he’ll be here by then anyway.
CHRIS KREIDER: I thought Kreider’s best work took place during the Rangers’ 4-4 (100%) penalty kill. Of course, he was also part of the lone Rangers’ power-play from this game – one that gave up a brutal short-handed goal – but that wasn’t on him either.
ALEXIS LAFRENIERE: Number 13 continues to play a strong physical game, but as we all know, that’s not exactly what he was drafted to do. Like Kakko, I just hope the scoring comes one day. He does get his chances though.
I don’t know if “regression” is the right word, but I feel like we saw more offensive flashes and potential last season from the first pick of the 2020 draft, rather than what we have seen from him thus far this season.
ARTEMI PANARIN: For a team that’s been “Jekyll & Hyde” all season; once again Panarin personified that moniker.
After finishing Carter Hart after a great pass from Goodrow; “The Breadman” picked up his team-high 30th assist on Goodrow’s goal too. However, he made a brutal turnover on what was the worst Rangers’ power-play of the season, which then set up the Flyers on a two-on-none odd-man rush – a shorthanded goal for the orange-and-black.
VINCENT TROCHECK: #16, the team’s best faceoff man, and perhaps most physical center too (Goodrow is a right winger these days), had another strong game in my eyes. Not only did he pick up an assist, but he just does everything else away from the puck.
I was a huge Ryan Strome fan, and tried to shy away from the Strome v. Trocheck comparisons. What’s done is done.
However, I will say that Trocheck has been a nice addition to the line-up. I also saw him talking with his former teammate in Carolina, Tony DeAngelo, several times during breaks.
JIMMY VESEY: As stated several times this season – Vesey remains the best $750,000 player in the NHL.
I’ve written so many words on #26 this season (and even included his chapter from “Tricks of the Trade” on this site too) – but needless to say, for a guy who entered the league with big hopes of becoming a routine scorer; Vesey, somewhat like Bobby Carpenter, has become a defensive wizard.
For shits-and-kicks – he’s now scoring game winning goals left-and-right too.
For a league that wants flaws on every team, due to the salary cap and parity – Vesey has more than earned his salary and is a huge part of this current six-game winning streak.
MIKA ZIBANEJAD: Do you know how bad the Flyers are? (And I wish I had more time to get into them tonight, especially after Tortorella’s decision to scratch his best scorer, Zibanejad’s former teammate, Kevin Hayes.)
The Flyers are so bad (HOW BAD ARE THEY), that Zibanejad finished thirteen of twenty-one at the dot, for what I believe is a season-high winning percentage of 61.9%.
As one of the team’s best penalty killers, if not the best; #93 was part of the 4-4 showing and also assisted on the two goals scored by his linemates. Another good game for the front line center.
ADAM FOX: You know the deal. He’s the team’s MVP. While he didn’t pick up any points tonight, and took a questionable penalty too; #23 was on the ice for 24:23 – eleven seconds less than Trouba (24:34).
LIBOR HAJEK: Like Gauthier, Hajek now finds himself as the odd-man out – again- following the call-up of Ben Harpur. Due to how well Harpur has looked during his two games, it may be a while until Hajek draws back in.
BEN HARPUR: #5 is now two-for-two in my eyes, when it comes to playing well. It amazes me how the Rangers’ new third pair, Schneider & Harpur, have had no issues at all – despite never playing together before.
RYAN LINDGREN: Double-nickel picked up his ninth assist of the season, on Kakko’s no-doubt-about-it, GAME OVER goal, the Rangers’ sixth-and-final tally. The Warrior also finished +2 and was reliable as always.
K’ANDRE MILLER: MILLER-TIME had his best time of the season – and best game too.
And oh yeah, he’s now the leader for “highlight reel goal of the year” as well:
K’ANDRE MILLER, WHAT A GOAL 🤯🥵 pic.twitter.com/uEgnwqJn9I
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) December 18, 2022
Do you know how good this goal was? (HOW GOOD WAS IT?) The Flyers replayed this goal no less than five times on their scoreboard/jumbotron.
Very rarely do home teams replay goals scored by the visitors – and multiple times at that – especially during a game featuring two heated-rivals. (For comparison, the Islanders never replay Ranger goals.)
And since this is now on my mind, I really liked how the Flyers tracked REAL STATS on their scoreboard too, such as SOG, TOI, Even-Strength time, etc – and not the analytical “expected” bullshit that you see elsewhere (notably, Columbus).
If there was anything “negative” about this goal, sans where I was sitting for it, the following:
Due to this goal – you already have some fans doing the “MILLER SHOULD PLAY FORWARD” routine.
Of course, #79 hasn’t played at the position since middle school. He’s a defenseman – accept it everyone!
Then again, he’d probably be more effective as a winger than Kravtsov is these days. HEY-YO!
BRADEN SCHNEIDER: You’re probably sick of me fawning over #4 all the time, but yep, as the Rangers pissed on Philly, Schneider took a leak himself – on any talk of a sophomore jinx.
Once again, Schneider had a strong game and came close to notching two assists. Hart got lucky.
JACOB TROUBA: “Cappy” got his first goal of the season, a fluke long-distance empty netter – but hey – they all count.
For #8, he needed to end this schneid and perhaps this will boost his confidence.
Defensively, I thought Trouba had one of his better games too, because from my vantage point – I didn’t see 987678686796 turnovers, a common problem for Trouba this season.
Entering this game, Trouba had the worst plus/minus stats on the team. He finished +2 on Saturday – a step in the right direction.
JAROSLAV HALAK: “The Halakness Monster” picked up his second win of the season tonight – and where I thought he had a mixed-bag of a game.
As noted on Friday, I thought CZAR IGOR should’ve started, just to extend the winning streak and then have an extra day off prior to Pittsburgh.
My theory? Since Halak was shelled by Chicago on home ice two weeks ago, and because despite their records, the Flyers are worse off than the ‘Hawks right now – maybe that’s why Halak got this start.
Since the media rarely ever asks Gallant the right questions, this was never brought up during the post-game.
(And check out both Mika and Goodrow’s post-game interviews, available on the Rangers’ YouTube page – you can see they are sick of these clowns posing as journalists/reporters too. Heck – Zibanejad even called them out!)
I thought the first goal allowed was somewhat weak (and to be fair, this happened on the other end of the ice from where I was sitting), as it was another case of a Ranger shot going wide and out of the zone (Harpur on this occasion), where right after – the other team marched up the ice and buried the puck.
The short-handed goal was on Panarin and not Halak.
Halak’s best moments took place during the penalty kill (six saves in all), where on one of them, he made three rapid saves, Flyer shots all from three feet out or less.
Similar to Trouba scoring – this win should boost Halak’s confidence – but I don’t want to see him play again until after Christmas.
CZAR IGOR: The 2022 Vezina Trophy winner will be tasked to extract revenge on Chicago tonight. I say he does!
In no way or no how, was this a stress-free game – even if the doubled-up final score would suggest otherwise.
While the Rangers would hold the lead following Miller’s go-ahead goal scored at the 9:09 mark of the second period – this game was another nail-biter.
At times, you winced every time the Flyers shot the puck at Halak. You just didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t until Kakko’s awarded goal where you could finally take a deep breath.
For a team that dominated play against Toronto – and played a full sixty-minute game too – the Rangers reverted to their old ways and played down to their competition. Obviously, this is an issue that needs to be rectified.
During the NHL season, and if you consider yourself a playoff contender, then you need to blow out the bad teams.
While blowouts aren’t going to happen all of the time, you need about 5-8 good smashings – only because it allows you to rest a bit during the long 82-game grind.
By sweating out every game, you run the risk of burning yourself out for the playoffs – which is why it’s also important to secure a playoff berth as soon as possible.
I’ll talk about the standings later tonight, during the Rangers/Hawks review.
For now, I gotta do my chores, sneak in a nap, watch some football and prepare for three hours of Patrick Kane talk on ESPN!
See ya later tonight.
My first 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:
Blistering Blueshirts Look To Extend Winning Streak To Seven Games This Weekend; “SHOULD WIN” Games Up Next, Dissecting Turk’s Lengthy Chat with The Birdbrain Beat; Praise For B-Schneids, “The Check LOLine,” Fickle Fans & “The Kids,” Never-Ending Kravtsov & Kane Trade Talk, Line-Up & More
NYR/TOR 12/15 Review: FIVE-ALIVE! Rangers Put Forth Best Sixty Minute Effort of the Season; Snap All Negative Trends Including “The Curse of the Liberty Jersey,” Jimmy F’N Vesey, Gallant’s Seat Cold As Ice; “Turk’s” Late Line-Up Moves Successful (Again), Perfect Special Teams, “Cappy” Trouba & The Cross-Hairs, “Coyote Ugly,” The Sharks & More
If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:
Don’t forget to order my new 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