Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. And just like that – everything is once again merry and jolly in the good ole streets of Rangerstown, USA.
The Rangers, prior to being downed by the NHL officials on Tuesday night, had won seven games straight. Following tonight’s 5-3 victory over the team that makes their home at the IBS Arena; the Blueshirts are now winners in eight of their last nine games played.
Not too shabby if I say so myself!
During a contest that was much more dramatic and thrilling than a Hallmark channel Christmas movie – it were the Rangers who had a “Christmas Story,” or a “Miracle on 34th Street,” themselves.
Rather than Candace Cameron Bure, wife of Valeri, sister-in-law of Pavel, starring – it was Kaapo Kakko in the lead role tonight – and not Kirk’s “Full House” sister.
CZAR IGOR, who entered Thursday’s game with horrendous stats against the Islanders, including a record of 1-7-1; for the 2022 Vezina Trophy winner, it looked like he was going to finish the match with only one win in nine career games against the men from Nassau County.
This certainly felt apparent following a terrible turnover from Kakko during the second period – a poor play that led to a Matthew Barzal breakaway goal – which then put the Isles up 2-1 at the time.
As the game progressed, and with less than three minutes remaining in a tied game; the Finn finished the Islanders, after capitalizing on a puck that was sent his way, following a picture-perfect pass from K’Andre Miller.
This goal, the game winning tally, put the Rangers up 4-3. A Vincent Trocheck empty netter, proudly made in Italy, sealed the deal.
While it were the players that you perhaps didn’t expect to do the heavy lifting for sixty minutes, such as Barclay Goodrow (one goal, two assists), Julien Gauthier (one goal, one assist) and Ben Harpur (two assists); by the end of the night, many were focused on Kakko redeeming himself and salvaging the season series, 2-1, in favor of the Elmont tenants.
Prior to Kakko’s “See Ya Sorokin” goal; you were somewhat dreading what felt like an inevitable Isles’ 2022-23 sweep of the Rangers.
After all, the Rangers, who lead the league in <DINGS>, hit two more posts tonight.
Worse than the iron was an anemic (ironically, iron-deficient) 1-6 power-play, as the Rangers were gift-wrapped twelve minutes (20% of the game) of a man-advantage – yet could only find one goal – a PPG scored by Artemi Panarin – during what was essentially a near four-minute Blueshirts’ power-play.
Had the Rangers lost, and as they did to the Refguins on Tuesday night; then for the second consecutive game – you’d be talking about the posts and the power-play.
Instead, and thankfully at that, we’re talking about another Rangers’ victory – a win that was not only big for them – but an Isles’ loss that was equally huge.
After all, just take a glance at the standings:
I thought tonight’s game was somewhat of a mixed bag, and for the reasons as described above. However, I also thought there was a lot more good than bad.
For the most part, the Rangers were the better team – and as usual – could’ve easily coasted to victory. It was nice to see them rewarded, rather than being burnt, come the final horn.
In other words, if you believe in either “DESERVED” or “EXPECTED” wins – then the Rangers most certainly earned these two points in the standings.
As we’ve seen many times before this season, especially when the leafs first started to fall – the Rangers have been on the wrong end of these games more times than not.
However, and as we’ve seen a lot of during these past nine games – the Rangers are now back to doing what they did last season – playing right down to the final minute.
Previously this season, one bad goal allowed would crush this team and it felt like they would proverbially throw in the white towel.
Today, the Rangers are now taking that towel and smothering their opponents with losses instead.
I’m not really breaking any news here with the following:
While a loss tonight wouldn’t have been the end of the world; needless to say, the Rangers, now off until Tuesday, December 27th (when they will host the Capitals), will enter this mini-break feeling good about themselves.
Rather than wallowing in misery over a two-game losing streak, and to two hated divisional rivals to boot; instead, the Rangers can focus on their eight wins in their last nine games played.
After this win over the Isles, and especially after feasting and beasting on chicken parm at “La Casa Nonna” on Monday night; the Rangers can now enjoy their seven different types of fish on Christmas Eve at Trocheck’s grandmother’s house!
Hey Trocheck “The Bambino” – pass me some baccalà!
Let’s roll, before I bore you with my 5AM train and real-life job talk!
Following having their win streak snapped on Tuesday, a day later, Wednesday; the team took the day off.
Of note: Gallant would later bring this up following tonight’s win, stating, “the day off did us good.”
On Thursday morning, the team had a light skate. Once complete, Gallant held his daily pregame “TURK TALK.”
Here it is:
Maybe it’s just me, but without the “Pulitzer Prize” Mollie “I Don’t Give a Shit” Walker in-attendance; Gallant was more forthcoming, honest and open with his answers. Heck, he even had time for Wince Mercogliano too – a rarity!
With the Hall of Fame scribe, Larry Brooks, leading the way – “The Turk” spoke for nearly seven minutes and gave you a deep look into his thought/coaching process.
Among the highlights:
— Gallant said that he felt a pregame skate would be more valuable than had the team practiced on Wednesday. He said he wanted to put 100% focus on this game and thought by bringing the team in early – it would only achieve that goal. Chalk up another win for “The Turk!”
Here’s what Double G said verbatim:
“Yesterday, we’ve been on the road a lot, it was a good day for a day off for them to get away, some of their families are here. Today they can come in and have a morning skate and prepare for the game today all day. That was the main reason for the day off – part of it – but it’s always worked for us in the past. We’re better when we have a morning skate instead of the guys sitting home and doing nothing. We brought them in, focus on that.”
— Of note: while I haven’t confirmed this yet, nor does it really matter either, but I believe that Lafreniere’s family was in-attendance. During my walk from my job back to Penn Station on Thursday afternoon, I saw about twenty people in #13 jerseys outside of a hotel located just steps away from M$G.
— Gallant, a coach who coaches from both instinct and from his experience as a former NHLer, talked about his recent line-up changes, including the moves that he’s recently made during games.
During this point of the interview, the head coach really went out of his way to praise Jonny Brodzinski – but not as much praise as Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti give Ranger opponents.
— The head coach also showered heavy praise upon Jimmy Vesey – a player who the head coach always refers to as “Vessy,” rather than “VEE-SEE.” Gallant said that both he and management (Chris Drury) are very high on #26. (But they aren’t as high on him as Susan “OH OH OH” Sarandon is.)
— As Gallant continued to talk about his coaching style; he later mentioned that sometimes he likes to take Trocheck off of the penalty kill, only because once returned to full-strength, it then gives Panarin, a non-PKer, a chance to play with a top-six center. Makes sense to me.
— While Gallant never likes to label any grouping of players as a “fourth line,” the head coach did say that he wants three dangerous lines, trios who can put pucks in nets.
— On the Isles, who have given the Rangers fits this season, “The Turk” said:
“It’s time to beat them. We played pretty decent games against them and it’s the last time we are going to play them this year. They are a good team, play the same game every night, are pretty consistent, for the most part, and have great goaltending. It’s a big game in the standings tonight for both teams.”
And that’s exactly what the Rangers did – beat the Isles!
As far as anything else; following Blais’ penalty from Tuesday night, #91 was scratched tonight.
And after tonight?
Similar to the way that a recent addition, Ben Harpur, has made Libor Hajek an afterthought – I don’t think we’ll see Blais when the Rangers return from break.
Here was tonight’s line-up:
(OF NOTE: just fourteen minutes in, Gallant flip-flopped Goodrow and Kravtsov – another in-game coaching change that worked out for Gallant.)
FIRST LINE: Panarin/Mika/Goodrow
SECOND LINE: Lafreniere/Chytil/Kakko
THIRD LINE: Kreider/Trocheck/Vesey
FOURTH LINE: Kravtsov/Brodzinski/Gauthier
FIRST PAIR: Lindgren/Fox
SECOND PAIR: Miller/Trouba
THIRD PAIR: Harpur/Schneider
STARTING GOALIE: CZAR IGOR
BACK-UP: Jaroslav Halak
BOX SCORE time.
The following graphics and information come from ESPN.com:
With Henrik Lundqvist presumably getting a head-start on Christmas; at 6:30PM, I tuned into the M$GN, only to find Sieve “The Rangers Have Lost Three MUST-WIN Games This Season, THE SEASON IS OVER!” Vagistat by himself.
That was it for me.
A half-hour later, I returned to the network, where for the next three hours – Sam and Joe pulled down their skirts, bent over, and said “come hither me, Islanders.”
Seriously, if you can find two other “home team” announcers that rave about the opponent as much as these bumbling buffoons do – please let me know. I’d love to see it.
While listening to Sam and Joe praise the other team is as old as the day is long; this stuff is really infuriating whenever the Rangers are playing you know, their most detested rival.
And since M$GN loves their cross-pollination synergy; we were soon introduced to two dumbass millennials, each rooting for either side. Why anyone would care about these two bozos was beyond me.
However, this led to one funny segment, where Beavis and Michelettihead were going on-and-on about how this duo were diehard fans. With the puck in play – both fans were on their cell phones. “Diehards!”
Prior to Sam and Joe telling us all about Casey Cizikas’ fifth-grade teacher, how Anders Lee loves long walks on the beach and how Jean-Gabriel Pageau has a massive hog in the middle of his pants; we then got this clip of Braden Schneider:
he is just a silly guy at the end of the day pic.twitter.com/CLbFlLFrY1
— christmas kreider (@kreidtastrophe) December 23, 2022
I got a huge laugh out of this, as Schneider’s reaction to the smelling salts was akin to a 2:00AM dive-bar drunk ripping a line of bad cocaine off of a toilet seat – and with the typewriter jaw to match!
(Don’t ask me how I know such things! And to be clear – I’m no Don Murdoch, but I do have a liver like Ron Greschner. Speak of, Happy Birthday to #4, who turned 68-years old on 12/22/22.)
I’ve dilly-dallied long enough.
GAME REVIEW TIME!
In a game with a get-in ticket price of $300, and where the average ducat would run you four figures (FAMILY FRIENDLY!); it was the Trocheck line, for the second consecutive game, who kicked things off for Gallant.
Obviously, “The Turk” is going with #16, rather than #93, due to Trocheck’s ability, and Mika’s inability, to win draws.
Depending on how you view it (defense vs offense), this was pretty much the best period of the game for the Rangers – and with all due respect to the fantastic finish during the final frame.
The Rangers dominated the Islanders – and where if it weren’t for one fluke goal scored by Lee – this period would’ve been flawless.
For what it’s worth, the Rangers never gave up one odd-man rush or breakaway during these first twenty minutes.
You couldn’t say that after forty minutes of action.
At just the one minute mark, the Rangers caught the Isles on a shift change and immediately went to work. A Miller shot was blocked and then Sorokin made a pair of saves on both Vesey and Trouba.
Twenty-six seconds later, Ryan Lindgren drew the Isles’ captain for slashing – an o-zone penalty for Mr. Lee.
Whether this was by design, fate or something else; either way, it looks like Panarin and Zibanejad have reversed roles on the power-play.
Instead of Mika taking 7678967896789678969 slapshots from Ovi’s office; it’s now “The Breadman” doing so, and where Zibanejad is also setting up these one-timers.
This was extremely evident just seconds into the power-play, when Sorokin stopped one Panarin slapper, while another “BREADMAN BOMB” hit the post – the first Rangers’ <DING> of the contest.
With 55 seconds remaining on the man-advantage, the PP2 unit came on. Sorokin seemingly denied his fellow comrade, Vitali Kravtsov – but upon replay – #74 had shot the puck wide.
“The Russian Rocket,” who played 12:14 tonight, and mainly with Mika & Panarin; Kravtsov finished tonight’s game with zero shots on goal. CALDER HERE WE COME!
“BUT HE LACES HIS SKATES WELL AND DIDN’T GET HURT TONIGHT! YOU’RE BIASED! AND GOODROW SUCKS TOO!”
ELL OH ELL!
Anyway, at just the 3:26 mark, the Rangers’ power-play was now 0-1 and with one iron smacked – just like how they started against the Refguins.
And since this never fails to happen; right after being stunted on their man-advantage – the Rangers gave the Isles a man-advantage themselves – as JONNY HOCKEY was boxed for tripping noted goon, Scott Mayfield – an o-zone penalty too.
Speaking of JONNY BROADWAY, good luck and best wishes to him and his family, as Micheletti, in a rare moment where he was actually talking about the Rangers, mentioned that #76’s wife is expecting and is due to pop any day now.
Apparently, the child, the Brodzinski’s second, will be born in Hartford – where another child, Vitali Kravtsov, should be living these days!
(Maybe I had too much egg nog prior to writing this! And if you’re worried about my real job – there will be no machinery moving on Friday – especially with the bad weather ahead!)
The Rangers’ penalty kill, and as it often is, sans the mess from Tuesday; was fantastic. Mika, Kreider and Trouba all made huge plays, and by the end of it, the Isles didn’t even put a SOG, much less even sniff CZAR IGOR.
In fact, the Isles, who only finished with five SOG in this period, recorded their first as we surpassed the eight minute mark.
With 10:50 remaining, and as the fools at M$G continued to make a hero out of Denis Potvin with the “POTVIN SUCKS” chants; Micheletti fawned over the orange-and-blue. “THEY WORK HARD SAM!”
Micheletti then followed that up by running down the family tree of Matt Martin, and also ran the genealogy back to the days of when the Martin family were living in caves and making fire with two twigs.
(And no – I don’t think that Boomer Esiason’s daughter is making s’mores in a rock cavern these days!)
Down to 9:05 remaining, you could see that both coaches had stressed defense to their teams – as not much was taking place at even-strength. This then led to Sam and Joe praising Pageau, where I’m surprised that they didn’t run highlights of JGP torching Lundqvist and the Rangers during the 2017 playoffs.
As we hit eight minutes remaining, Jacob Trouba, who has to lead the league in shot attempts that are blocked, as it feels like only one out of every fifty pucks he blasts hit the net; the captain had another shot blocked.
A few seconds later, and with 7:12 to go, the Isles’ captain, Anders Lee, scored.
This was a puck-luck/fluke goal, as Lee, adjacent to CZAR IGOR, hit Lindgren’s skate in the paint and the puck then went into the empty net.
1-0, bad guys – and nothing Igor could do here.
As the clock read 6:00 remaining, this is when Gallant flip-flopped Goodrow and Kravtsov. This proved beneficial – for the fourth line – as this line scored two of the three Ranger 5×5 goals of the game.
Have I mentioned yet that Mika’s goal drought continues, while Kravtsov didn’t put one puck on net?
With 5:44 remaining, the Rangers received a break when Mayfield hooked Panarin.
As Mika and Panarin were doing everything but score; the Isles’ PK continued to block shots and clog passing lanes.
However, with 45 seconds remaining on the Rangers’ power-play, and 4:28 left in the period; Noah Dobson airmailed a puck over the glass. In turn, the Rangers now had a decent amount of time with a 5 x 3 power-play.
As the Rangers’ power-play continued to struggle; and just before you could say, “if you don’t score on a 5 x 3 power-play, then you deserve to lose;” this happened with just two seconds remaining on the Dobson infraction:
IT’S A POWER PLAY GOALLLL!! TOO MUCH BREAD🥖
it’s a tie game at 1 pic.twitter.com/ceLj55UkLM
— Rangers on MSG (@RangersMSGN) December 23, 2022
1-1, as “The Breadman” baked a PPG from the circle where Zibanejad usually hangs out in – following Mika’s one-timed pass.
Obviously, this was a huge goal, as not only were the Rangers the better team of the period – this prevented them from going 0-3 on the man-advantage too.
We remained tied after twenty.
Here’s what I said at the time:
1-1 after 1. 1P Thoughts:
— Good start, Isles got a fluky goal. No real scoring chances allowed.
— SOG 9-5, FO’s 12-4 #NYR ; Hits 7-4 #Isles
— Another post…
— You deserve to lose if you can’t score a PPG with a 5 x 3. Glad to see Panarin, who’s shooting more, get it
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) December 23, 2022
This was the worst period of the game for the Rangers – where by the end of it – they were fortunate to only be down by one.
Following another excellent intermission interview from Braden Schneider, who continues to amaze as he speaks and plays well beyond his years; just one minute in, JGP got behind the Rangers’ fourth line, backhanded a puck – and luckily enough – the Isles’ trailer was a second too late from scoring on a vacated net.
In a response, Rosen practically fainted in admiration in regards to Henrik Lundqvist’s gambling ads.
Not to be outdone, Micheletti started praising, and of all people, Josh Morrissey of the Winnipeg Jets. I’m not making this up.
I wonder what a Lundqvist Caesers’ Sports Book special prop bet, on a Morrissey mention on this broadcast, would’ve paid out? Those odds had to be +10000000000.
Greater odds? Sam and Joe actually spending time talking about the team that they are paid to cover.
Not even three minutes in, Kakko did his Harlem Globetrotter act.
From behind the Isles’ net, Kakko skated, deked, and kept the puck to himself for about twenty seconds or so.
While he was doing this, he also started to drift towards the blue line.
Rather than passing to an open shooter; this masturbatory act led to a turnover – and a breakaway backhanded goal for Barzal with 17:21 remaining.
2-1 bad guys – and another goal that you couldn’t pin on Igor either – although we’ve seen him make these saves before.
A few things before continuing:
— Gallant kept Kakko in the game.
— We saw a shot of Chris Kreider coaching up Kakko – and verbally (and not physically!) lifting up his teammate.
— After listening to many Ranger fans and their desires to have Sammy Blais and his family burnt at the stake following his penalty against Pittsburgh – not a peep out of them following this brutal Kakko turnover.
My real point here? Just no consistency at all from these millennial “YOU HAVE TO PLAY THE KIDS” types – aka, the usual.
While this play was absolutely abysmal – I liked that Gallant kept #24 in the game.
It’s very easy to get stuck on one bad play (or “Blais” – it rhymes with “play” – and as many often do) – but you have to remember one of the oldest adages around – “shit happens.”
And as I always say on this site – “the other team is paid to play hockey too.”
It just sucked how this turned out (especially as CZAR IGOR’s biggest fan – as once again, his numbers were torched on home ice – and through no fault of his own at this point); but to rail on Kakko for the remainder of the game would be silly to me.
And as mentioned, and the best thing to come as a result of this?
Rather than thinking about this play for the next four nights; instead, Kakko, the team, Gallant and the fans can all think about his game winning goal!
Less than three minutes later, and on a goal similar to Barzal’s; it was Julien “Keep Blais in the Press Box” Gauthier’s turn:
OH, you’re gonna wanna watch this👀
GAUTHIER TIES IT UP pic.twitter.com/PMmrI1PsH9
— Rangers on MSG (@RangersMSGN) December 23, 2022
2-2, as #12 now leads the team in goals scored per shift played. How about that stat?
Who would’ve ever thought that would ever happen – especially after last season?!?!?
This goal was all set-up by Barclay “BUT, BUT, BUT KRAVTSOV IS YOUNGER THAN A TWO-TIME STANLEY CUP CHAMPION AND NEEDS TO PLAY SIXTY MINUTES A GAME” Goodrow; as once receiving the puck from Harpur (who recorded his first point of the season on this goal), found his winger – and with tons of white ice in front of him.
And if you’re keeping track, for Goodrow, who has scored points on every line that he’s played on this season (Vesey is the only other Ranger to have done the same); the POINT-O-METER read as such: Goodrow 1, Kravtsov 0.
And yep, I’m really hammering this point, only because after every game, all I hear about is how #74 is this magical savior of Ranger hockey.
The second coming of Mark Messier he is not.
I can’t wait until he’s punted to Chicago – and then I’ll never have to talk about this malcontent again!
Unfortunately after this huge goal, where for the second time, the Rangers had erased an Isles’ lead; Sorokin made a few stops on his end, and in the other end with 11:15 to go – another “negative first” took place – Alexander Romanov‘s first goal of the season.
3-2, bad guys.
If there was any goal you could pin on Igor, then it was this one. But even then, it looked like Schneider had him partially screened.
It’s just the fact that the Isles’ d-man scored from long distance on a shot that we’ve seen CZAR IGOR stop 99% of the time. It was also the Isles’ third goal on nine shots.
CZAR IGOR never allowed another goal after this, but this is true too: the Isles are his kryptonite.
Similar to the days of Lundqvist in Montreal, and despite this victory – the Isles just have #31’s number. It happens to every starting goalie. There’s always just one team out there, that for whatever reason, has a strong net-minder solved.
Just ask the Islanders about Alexandar Georgiev – who is the “180 comparison” to this theory.
Fortunately, the Rangers wouldn’t let this Romanov goal to hold-up as the game winner.
Following Romanov’s goal, the Rangers got turnover happy, as it felt like they were hellbent on seeing the Isles score four.
Funny enough, it was Romanov himself who stunted his team’s momentum, when he sailed a puck over the glass, the second time an Isles’ d-man had done as such in this game, and with 6:22 remaining.
What happened during the first Rangers’ power-play happened during this fourth power-play.
Following Sorokin making his best save of the game, a diving stop on a Zibanejad slapper; the Blueshirts’ power-play was now 1-4.
For good measure, as the power-play expired, Gallant’s Gang got busted for too many men on the ice – a penalty that every coach loves – but not as much as Sam and Joe’s love for Ranger opponents.
As the two dunderheads in the booth were going on-and-on about how the Isles’ power-play hadn’t scored during their last fifteen tries, as these two mooks tried to will the Isles into a PPG (previously during the broadcast, Micheletti brought up that Harpur hadn’t been on the ice for a goal allowed this season – this “reverse jinx” later hit as #5 was on for the Romanov goal); you thought that the Isles were going to double their lead here.
Following a major denial from Sorokin on a Goodrow short-handed attempt; CZAR IGOR made three saves himself, and the Rangers survived & escaped these two minutes of hairiness.
Once returned to full-strength, and with just a few ticks remaining; for good measure, we had another Ranger turnover – and another save for CZAR IGOR too, as he prevented Pageau from riling up Blueshirt backers again.
3-2, bad guys, after forty.
Here’s what I said at the time:
3-2, bad guys after 40. 2P Thoughts:
— Of all teams, it has to be the #Isles that are Igor’s kryptonite.
— When’s the last time Mika scored?
— SOG 22-13, FO’s 20-12 #NYR; Hits 16-13 Isles
— NYR PP 1-4, 1 post too – huge in a one goal game.
— Find a way.
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) December 23, 2022
After going with the Trocheck line to start the two previous periods; the Zibanejad line opened this period, where not even a minute in, Vitali “GOODROW WOULD HAVE BURIED THE PUCK” Kravtsov missed a net from one foot away.
As Sam and Joe feverishly lamented over the status of Cizikas, as he was done for the game with an injury that M$GN never bothered to replay for us; we had our first scrum of the game with 17:42 remaining, featuring Lafreniere, Kakko, Chytil, Schneider and Harpur.
This act of physicality awoke the Rangers’ beast, as just eighteen seconds later, this happened:
GOODY GOODY!! it’s a tie game…again! pic.twitter.com/KTEeaSMJlP
— Rangers on MSG (@RangersMSGN) December 23, 2022
3-3, as GOODY GOT IT AGAIN.
And if you’re keeping track, this was now two points for #21, while #74 remained with zero – just like his SOG stat.
While admittedly, this goal wasn’t exactly shades of Rocket Richard here; Goodrow was in the right place and at the right time, as Gauthier’s shot found a piece of the best jack-of-all-trades player on the team and then went past Sorokin.
And this shouldn’t be understated and/or forgotten: in a monster gut-check game against your most-hated rival, it were Harpur, Gauthier and Goodrow with multi-point games & who carried the offense.
In what was hilarious, sad and frustrating and all at the same time; about six minutes into the period, Trouba attempted a wrap-around goal, where I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone execute this play any slower than the heavy-footed Rangers’ captain. This is another way of saying, “this was an easy save for Sorokin.”
Down to 13:36 remaining, Gauthier, who draws more penalties per minute played than anyone else on the team; #12 looked like he drew another one, when he was tackled, tripped and interfered with.
While the officials did call six Islander penalties tonight – they ignored this one – as they must’ve caught a case of “Wes McCauleyitis” here.
That said, they did box Romanov one more time with 11:52 to go, following the d-man’s hook of Mika.
The end result, where Gallant also used his timeout to get his PP1 unit a rest and a reset?
One more post (Zibanejad one-timer), Sorokin’s twelfth save on the PK and a 1-5 Rangers’ power-play.
Tied at 3-3, and with the game now under ten minutes to go, things got chippy. As a “BLUE COLLAR BOOMER,” I was hoping for a Goodrow fight – just to give him the Gordie Howe Hat Trick!
It was also at this time where you were waiting for the other shoe to drop.
After all, we’ve seen this script so many times before, even as recent as Tuesday night, where the power-play (0-3) and all of the posts (2) did the team in.
In a role-reversal, it was the Isles turn to find iron – twice.
During back-to-back shifts, the Isles heard two <DING’s>, where Pageau’s was the scariest.
And this isn’t exactly a vote of confidence for my favorite goalie – but it was during this time where you were waiting for the Isles to score some sort of dirty/greasy goal.
As we crossed the FOXWOODS FINAL FIVE mark; with 4:53 remaining, Mayfield went to the box, for cross-checking Vesey – and a penalty that arguably could’ve been assessed as a five-minute major.
Following these two minutes, which included a wide-open Trouba sending a puck into the East River; the Rangers’ power-play was now 1-6 in the game.
Again, had the Rangers lost this game, these twelve minutes of futility would have received more play.
As you were just hoping to get to overtime, and at least receive a point in the standings – redemption. Take a look:
and the RANGERS HAVE THE LEAD! THANK YOU, KAKKO😤 pic.twitter.com/ea9MYnIUR8
— Rangers on MSG (@RangersMSGN) December 23, 2022
4-3, GOOD GUYS, following Kakko’s eventual game winner.
For a guy who is often at the butt-end of the Finnish/Finish jokes; Kakko picked up his ninth goal of the season, as he, along with many Rangers during these past nine games, is starting to pick it up.
One last time – what a goal – and what a “Disney Finnish” too!
Down to 1:47 remaining, we had one last scrum, where it was nice to see Zibanejad defend Miller after Pageau got right up in the face of #79.
Of course, you’d like to see Miller use his size to kick Pageau into New Jersey – but that’s just not what he does.
Following an Isles’ timeout, and with Sorokin seated; just fifteen seconds later, Trocheck said “GAME OVER GRANDMA” and hit the empty net.
Goodrow assisted on this goal.
POINT-O-METER: Goodrow 3, Kravtsov 0.
5-3, GOOD GUYS.
5-3, YOUR FINAL.
Here’s a Jolly Old Saint Gallant after the game:
While it’s late and tomorrow is going to be a horror show for me due to a lack of sleep (thankfully, an easy half-day ahead); I have to share my favorite Gallant quote from this presser:
“Every time Goodrow plays with somebody, he makes the line look good.”
I’ve only been saying this from day one of Goodrow’s Rangers’ career!
Before closing out, maybe I’ll return over the weekend with some thoughts, but if not – Merry X-Mas to all! (I don’t do that “Happy Holidays” shit!)
I also have a “stocking stuffer” for you below.
On Friday, I have the lead space in Stan Fischler’s “TheHockeyNews.com” column.
While “The Maven” has edited what I’m about to share below due to space constraints; here’s my latest for my pal:
“Who’s Better? Ovechkin vs Crosby.”
WHO’S BETTER? SIDNEY CROSBY OR ALEX OVECHKIN?
The 2005-06 season was a new beginning for the NHL. Following a nasty lock-out between players and ownership, where both a season and a Stanley Cup was lost – the league needed to restore faith into their fans. Two players that helped the NHL regain prominence once again were Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
“The Great Eight” and “Sid The Kid” have never looked back since – where arguably, now seventeen years later – the pair of future Hall of Famers are still enjoying their prime years.
Ovechkin, perhaps the greatest athlete to have ever plied his wares in the Washington D.C. area, was selected first-overall during the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. However, due to the lockout in North America, the Russian, then nineteen years old at the time, remained in his home country during the 2004-05 season.
When the NHL players and owners reached their accord, it opened the door for the Pittsburgh Penguins to draft Crosby, the seventeen year old and soon-to-be generational stud from the Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL), with their first-overall pick of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
While it wouldn’t be until the 2013-14 season when the two legends first played in the same division (prior to the inception of the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals played in the Southeast Division, while the Penguins played in the Atlantic Division); from the first puck drop of their careers – the two competed neck-and-neck with each other – and as they still do today.
During their rookie season, where both players played for last place/rebuilding teams, and as first-overall picks often do; #8 and #87 had their first league-wide battle between each other.
Ovechkin, nearly two years to the date older than Crosby, drew first blood, as it was Washington’s star that edged out Pittsburgh’s new hero for the Calder Trophy. While Ovechkin (1,275 votes/98.84% of first-place votes) defeated Crosby (831 votes/four first-place votes) in round one; the two cornerstones of their respective franchises would go on to play see-saw with each other.
Comparing legends, especially players from the same generation, is as old as the league itself. Heck, these types of debates even predate the league too!
Whether it’s Joe Malone vs Cyclone Taylor, Bill Cook vs Nels Stewart, Gordie Howe vs Rocket Richard, Bobby Hull vs Phil Esposito, Wayne Gretzky vs Mario Lemieux or another Hall of Fame pairing of your choosing; both Crosby and Ovechkin, just like the men who came before them, are worthy of such praise and conversation.
For Crosby and Ovechkin, there’s no doubt about it. They are the greatest players to have ever played during the salary cap era – and of this century too.
Listing all of their accolades will give any writer carpal tunnel syndrome. The two share multiple Hart Trophies, Art Ross Trophies, Stanley Cup Trophies, league scoring titles, etc. Simply stated: you name it and they have won it.
Trying to figure out who’s the better player of the two is like asking a young child to pick out only one piece of candy from a store.
While Ovechkin and Crosby are all-time league greats in their own right, and share many similarities too – stylistically, the two couldn’t be any more different.
Crosby, a center, has always been more of a play-maker than perhaps the greatest left-winger in history, Ovechkin. However, a center should be more assist-oriented than a goal-scoring winger to begin with – and the stats don’t lie.
As the NHL approaches their annual Christmas break, Crosby has a career stat-line of 535 goals, 916 assists and 1,451 points in 1,140 games played. Ovechkin’s stats read as 800 goals, 646 assists and 1,446 points in 1,308 games played.
While these numbers are absolutely stunning, what’s even crazier is how many games both players have lost during their careers, and through no fault of their own, due to multiple lock-outs, the pandemic, and in Crosby’s case, concussions.
Had these events not occurred – perhaps Crosby would be flirting with 2,000 points right now, while Ovechkin would have already surpassed Gretzky (894) as the league’s all-time goal scorer.
As everyone knows, the ultimate goal of any NHLer is to win the holy chalice, the Stanley Cup.
It was Crosby who struck first, having won the silver in 2009, 2016 and 2017. Now as established NHL veterans, and with #87 also having two Conn Smythe Trophies added to his mantle – it looked like Crosby was the clear-cut winner of this debate. Not so fast.
Following Crosby’s third Stanley Cup victory; a year later, in 2018, it was finally turn for the then 32-year old Ovechkin to hold the pair of prestigious hardware’s, both the Cup and the Smythe. It were these two awards that had escaped #8 throughout his whole career – and then resumed this debate of the all-time greats.
While winning a Stanley Cup or not wouldn’t have impacted Ovechkin’s standing as a future Hall of Famer; the 2018 victory ended all of the “he never won the big one” talk.
As these two marvels now approach the latter years of their careers, as Sid, no longer a kid, is now 35, while the man less than 100 goals away from history is now 37; neither one has shown any signs of stopping down.
Regression? Instead, we’re seeing more progression from these two!
In 32 games played this season, nothing has changed for Crosby. He’s still the face that runs the place in Pittsburgh, and continues to average over a point-per-game (42). Over in Washington, Ovechkin remains as one of the top goal-getters in the league, as he currently has 20 tallies in 34 games played.
So, the big question – who’s the victor in the much-debated question of, “who’s better – Crosby or Ovechkin?”
The answer? The fans – and yes, I know that’s a “cop-out” answer. However – how can one determine a “loser” to this question?
The two players have done it all, and because of the way they play, their teams are built around them.
Just like any debate of this nature – it all boils down to your style of preference. (And who you root for too!)
If you enjoy a skilled center dazzling his opponents on a daily basis, then Crosby is your guy. If you enjoy a rugged forward who can’t be stopped whenever taking one of his patented slapshots from his office, then Ovechkin is your guy.
Every generation gets to witness greatness, but for fans of this era, both Ovechkin and Crosby seem a little bit more special than some of the heroes that have preceded them.
While NHLers continue to grow stronger, bigger and faster era-by-era, including the stars from the era of today, and where new “best of the best” debates have now been waged, including Adam Fox vs Cale Makar, Connor McDavid vs Auston Matthews, etc; it’s tough to top one of the best, and now longest rivalry in hockey, “The Great Eight” vs “Sid The Kid.”
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:
NYR/PIT 12/20 Review: Trocheck’s “La Casa Nonna’s” Chicken Parm No Match For The NHL’s Officials Never-Ending Love Affair with the Penguins; Zebras Create Excuses 42 Seconds Prior to an Inexcusable Loss, Special Teams Swing Games, Pens’ Stars, Goalies & CK20 Show-Up; Mika & Panarin Do Not, Blais Benched, Streak Snapped & More
NYR/CHI 12/18 Review: Blueshirts Blowout Blackhawks in Bizarre Game; Kick the Extra Point, Best Weekend of the Season, “All I Want For Christmas is a Nine Game Winning Streak,” ESPN; Kaplan & Cally, Kane Rumors, Trouba, CZAR IGOR, “The Chytil Cycle,” Boffo Box Score & More
NYR/PHI 12/17 Game Review & Thoughts From Philly: Blueshirts Don’t Make It Easy; “Find-A-Way-To-Win” Anyway; Vesey & Goodrow Continue to Excel; Flyers in a State of Hell, Notes on Every Ranger, Miller’s Highlight Reel Goal; Gritty’s Coal, Gambling, Tony Trolled Again (Callously This Time), Six-Pack Attack Ups Win Streak To Six & 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