NYR/NSH 12/29 Review: Rangers Get Two Returning Players & Win Their First Road ROW Game, A Perfect Ten For The First Line, McLeod Steps Up, Zucc Steps Down, See Ya Lias, Lundqvist Finally Wins a Game & More

Behind 10 total combined points from their first line and with the bruising physicality of Cody McLeod, the Rangers won their first road game in regulation of the season.

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. With all the sports going on today, I was originally going to skip doing this blog. Even as I write these words on my slow-as-molasses laptop, I currently have the UFC PPV & the Team USA Hockey game on my two televisions. If you’re a sports fan, this weekend is perfect, with all the hockey, the college football playoffs & the UFC today. Then you have the NFL tomorrow. What a great time to be downing Miller Lites and whisky!

On Saturday night, in Nashville, the Rangers defeated a Stanley Cup contending team in the Nashville Predators, by a score of 4-3, IN REGULATION! For the Rangers, this was their first road win, during regulation, of the season. That stat is kind of telling of what kind of season this has been for the Rangers.

As this game was going along and as the Predators were trying to get a late goal with their goalie Pekka Rinne pulled, I figured this game was going to be the “same-old-script.” You know, the Rangers play well all game, play good enough to win, and then some bullshit happens and the Rangers lose in overtime. With Rinne pulled for the final 2:15 of the game, I was just waiting for the Predators to tie it, especially after Zuccarello missed two clear-as-day looks, at the empty net of the Predators.

While the Rangers would not alleviate my fears by scoring an empty net goal, the Rangers defense held the Predators off the board, in the final period and in the crucial final minutes. There also looks to be something going on with PK Subban and Preds head coach, Peter Laviolette. With Subban visually pissed off, he didn’t play during the Predators 6 vs 5 attack. The Rangers may have caught a break on that one. However, those are the problems of the Predators, and not the Rangers.

In the perspective of the Rangers, this was just another game, that despite the victory, made you shake your head. While the Predators were on a five game slide when entering this contest, the Predators are still a Cup contending team. When you look at this game and the game with the Preds on opening night, how do the Rangers stay in games with top teams, but just fall apart against the bottom-of-the-barrel teams in the league? Choose whatever adage you want here -“That’s Hockey Suzyn” or “Any Given Sunday.”

My long-time buddy of over 18 years, in Ricky Otazu (@RickyOtazu16 on the twitter) is now a Nashville resident. Ricky currently owns a sports merchandise store and hung out at the arena before the game. Here he is with Joe Micheletti. Ricky didn’t tell me if Joe’s breath smelt like Swedish Meatballs or not!

Ranger wins, during regulation, while on the road, doesn’t happen often. In fact, this was the first time it’s happened all season. With that said, I don’t mean to piss on anyone’s parade, but while it feels good to see the Rangers & Lundqvist finally close a game out, I don’t think this win is indicative of anything moving forward. I just think all those losses to the bad teams in the league have taken their toll, at least when it comes to the standings.

Going into the post-Christmas break, I said I thought the Rangers had to win 7 of their next 10 to stay alive. The Rangers have now taken 3 out of a possible 4 points. The biggest problem is that the teams ahead of them are winning games and aren’t slowing down. For the Rangers, not only do they need the teams ahead of them to cool down, they also must rip off a major win streak. Do the Rangers have it in them? Time will tell and a game like this is definitely encouraging.

Before moving on to this game and all the latest news, here are my last few blogs in case you missed them:

NYR/CBJ 12/27 Review: Rangers Drop Another Game in OT, Lundqvist Looking Severely Depressed & On the Verge of Spiraling, Three Goals For Are Not Enough For King Softee, Time to Waive The NMC, CK20 vs Torts, Returning Rangers & Much More From Another Mess at M$G

BCBS 12/27: “The Patricks: Hockey’s Royal Family” In-Depth Book Review, The Death of Sports Reporting, Sink or Swim Time for the 2018-2019 New York Rangers, Preview of the Upcoming Schedule, Czar Igor, Early IIHF World Juniors Impressions & More

NYR/PHI 12/23 Review: Rangers Get Coal In Their Stocking Courtesy of Michal “Bebe” Neuvirth, Losing Getting To Lundqvist, NYR Slipping Out of Playoff Contention, NYR Can’t Beat Bad Teams, How The Gritty Stole X-Mas & More from M$G

NYR/TOR 12/22 Review: Rangers Give It Their All In Prime-Time; Toronto Too Strong, Rangerstown in Frenzy With Non-Stop Trade Talks, Stop with the Tank Talk, Hayes for ASG, McQuaid 3:16, Georgiev Holds His Own, Lundqvist and His Expensive Watches & More From the NHL Capital

NYR/ANA 12/18 Review: The Rangers & “The King of Kings” Alexandar Georgiev Go Duck Hunting Again; Nab A Few Zebras Too, Rangers Win A Defensive Battle w/The Hottest Team in the League, My Conversation w/a NYR Rep, Nailing Bets, Fashionistas & More from M$G

NYR/VGK 12/16 Review: Rangers & Lundqvist Flips The Script From Friday; Still Manage To Lose 4-3 In OT For The Third Straight Time at Home, Fleury Wins The Battle of Future HHOF Goalies Despite Highlight Reel Saves From Lundqvist, Rangers Coming Off the Rails, Does Skjei Skjuck & More

NYR/ARI 12/14 Review: The Twelve Days of Lundqvist X-Mas Song, Another Three Goal Lead Blown At Home, Stepan & Chytil > Andersson, Jim Carrey & Much More Manifesto FIRE After The Most Pathetic Loss of the Season

As predicted, David Quinn shook things up on Saturday.

As talked about in my last blog, Kevin Shattenkirk, Cody McLeod and Jesper Fast were all close to returning to the team. By the time the game started, McLeod & Fast were back in the line-up, while Shattenkirk remains out. However, the big news in-between games was that Lias Andersson was deported back to Hartford. Here’s what the Rangers put out on Friday, 12/28:

As time goes on, more and more, Lias Andersson is approaching the waters of Hugh Jessiman and Bobby Sanguinetti. You can’t give up on him yet, but you also can’t believe the line of shit that some people put out there about him.

Bottom line is this, and as talked about before on this site, Jeff Gorton, after the 2017 NHL draft, said, and I’m paraphrasing him here: “Lias Andersson is the most NHL ready player out of anyone in the 2017 draft.”

We all know the story. Andersson wasn’t ready for the NHL in Year 1. Now, here in Year 2, the only reason he was called up was because of injuries. He didn’t show much in his time up with the big club.

Andersson fans have made a good point, and I think they are right – the Rangers have failed Andersson a bit. While Andersson isn’t the player the Rangers thought he would be, at the same time, the Rangers also said they didn’t want to call up Andersson from Hartford to play fourth line minutes with the Rangers. So what happened? Andersson got called up and played fourth line minutes, on the wing, and not at his natural position as a center. While Andersson isn’t Eric Staal, you can make the argument, that just like Eric Staal, the Rangers misused him.

While it’s fun to make jokes, and call him Lias Jessiman or whatever else you want to come up with, you still can’t call him a bust yet. There is plenty of time for Lias Andersson to find his game and become an NHLer. However, at the same time, if it wasn’t for the Raanta injury, it would be easy to say that this was a trade that Gorton lost. And as we’ve seen with the “Triple S” of defensemen, this wouldn’t be the first time that Gorton banked on the wrong player.

With Fast and McLeod back, the Rangers line-up was drastically different from previous games.

As a result of the two returning Rangers, and with Andersson sent to Hartford, Boo Nieves was the lone forward scratch tonight. Defensively, after sitting in the press box for the last three games, Tony DeMAGAngelo (credit, as always to @NYRKELSMADS) returned to the line-up, while Frederick Claesson joined Nieves upstairs. Again, and I know I’ve said it a lot on this site, no matter what Quinn has said about treating every player equally, in regards to how much money they make, Brady Skjei continues to get a pass. How can anyone say that Claesson was worse than Skjei, at least during these most recent games?

While I’ll say more about McLeod as this blog goes on, how about this silly stat that aired before the game:

While McLeod only had four hits tonight, instead of 6+, the Rangers still handled McLeod’s former team. Photo Credit: MSG Networks

You might think I’m breaking your balls here, but I’m being serious right now – McLeod was a major difference maker in this game. In fact, he set the tone for the Rangers in this game. I don’t know if McLeod felt like shit and wanted to redeem himself, after watching two of his teammates get concussions last season in the game with Nashville, but whatever it was, McLeod was a major factor in this game.

While many Ranger fans debate about who’s going and who’s staying, McLeod treated this game like this was his audition for a potential trade to a Cup contender. He just did all the little things right and because of his big hits, he helped to keep Nashville on edge for most of the game. (Perennial offender, Zac Rinaldo, would sneak in a cheap shot on Mika Zibanejad in this game, towards the end of the second period. However, the Rangers would score quickly into the third period, so it makes no sense for McLeod to take an unnecessary fighting major and a possible instigator penalty, in an attempt to protect the honor of a one Mika Zibanejad.)

This game gave Quinn several heart murmurs, but at the end of the night, the Rangers got the two points.

Let’s go to the official ESPN.com box score and then get into the review portion of this blog:


1st Period
2:42 Chris Kreider (20) (Power Play)

Assists: Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes
1 0
8:43 Nick Bonino (7) (Power Play)

Assists: Mattias Ekholm, Kevin Fiala
1 1
2nd Period
3:51 Jesper Fast (4)

Assists: Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider
2 1
4:44 Kevin Fiala (7)

2 2
10:35 Nick Bonino (8) (Power Play)

Assists: Craig Smith, Kevin Fiala
2 3
3rd Period
4:23 Marc Staal (3)

Assists: Jesper Fast, Mika Zibanejad
3 3
7:35 Jesper Fast (5)

Assists: Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider
4 3


1st Period
Penalty to Nashville Predators for (served by Kevin Fiala)
7:28 Brady Skjei:

2 minutes for Holding
14:08 Chris Kreider:

2 minutes for Holding
16:01 Vladislav Namestnikov:

2 minutes for Boarding
2nd Period
6:46 Mattias Ekholm:

2 minutes for Interference
10:25 Mats Zuccarello:

2 minutes for Slashing
3rd Period
12:38 Cody McLeod:

2 minutes for Holding


22 4 18 .818 17 1 0 0 0 57:31 0
0 0 0 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0:00 0
37 3 34 .919 26 0 8 0 0 60:00 0
As talked about in my last blog, Lundqvist had the audacity to say there was a lack of skill in the locker room, after the loss to the CBJ. Photo Credit: NY Post

Before tonight’s game, there were two Ranger podcasts that aired. Blue Shirt Underground Radio had a rare pregame show, which was entertaining as always. While the BSU show had more content and laughs, I found the “Bleeding Bleedshirts” 20 minute podcast to be more newsworthy. You can listen to Giannone & Maloney’s latest here:


On the podcast, Dave Maloney, who is Jekyll on the podcast and Hyde on the broadcast, questioned Lundqvist for calling out his teammates and saying that his team wasn’t skilled. Giannone & Maloney then talked about how that stuff isn’t good for a young team and how that negativity needs to end. Of course, what wasn’t mentioned, was the fact that Lundqvist signed up for this and refused to waive his NMC, when that option was offered to him. That said, Giannone and Maloney said it was a bad thing that Lundqvist was putting himself above the team. Not mentioned, was how other veterans, like a Marc Staal or a Chris Kreider, NEVER do this. However, Lundqvist does this all the time and without anyone calling him out.

Oh, for all the “Carnac The Magnificent’s” out there, yep, none of Lundqvist’s derogatory talk about his teammates was mentioned on the broadcast. In fact, before the game even started, Joe Micheletti pulled a Rob Riggle from “Stepbrothers” and was eating Hank’s dick like he was Kobayashi:

It’s just so funny how Joe & Dave will hit controversial subjects on their podcast, but will ignore them on Dolanvision. Eh, they got to feed their families too, so I understand.

Speaking of Lundqvist, Ricky Otazu got a bunch of shit signed by him today too. I’ll give Hank credit, he stopped and signed for the 5 Ranger fans that were waiting to get autographs in Nashville. I was told that Chris Kreider blew everyone off and that David Quinn couldn’t be friendlier.

And before getting into the game, let’s go to the over-under prediction of the blog. Here’s what I said before the game:


With the Rangers winning 4-3, I’m now 10 for 13, ever since I started sharing with you my over-under bets. It’s only a matter of time before Vegas starts increasing these lines to -6.5 on the regular.

Cody McLeod made an impact right off puck drop. Photo Credit: Getty Images

When you look at this Rangers win, you can look at the 10 points that the first line (Zibanejad/Kreider/Fast) generated. You can be thankful that Lundqvist only blew two leads instead of three. You can say that Quinn managed his bench right. After all, look at this chart (can you believe I’m telling you to look at a chart?) that reader @JoeGillio found:


However, to me, as someone who knows a thing or two about stirring shit, Cody McLeod stirred the shit in this game and had Nashville off their game all night. While playing under a shade of 11 minutes, and on the fourth line, McLeod maximized his minutes. He was all over the place and while he didn’t record any points, his presence was felt all game. He somewhat even shutdown long time Ranger nemesis, in PK Subban.

As I said at the top of this blog, with Zuccarello playing a poor game (That brings a smile to the face of reader & master of all Ranger related reading material, in Al Demauro) I thought Zuccarello’s trade stock went down after this game, while Cody McLeod’s stock went up. And the crybabies will hate to hear this, but on 12/29/2018, Cody McLeod is a better hockey player than Lias Andersson.

“Pardon me John, Hank took his mask off and I now have an erection.” Photo Credit: MSG Networks

With Sam Rosen off to do football, John Giannone handled the play-by-play today. I know some fans shit on him, but I like John’s commentary. Yes, he’s not flashy, but you don’t need all the exaggerations all the time. He keeps it simple and it’s easy listening. While I’m sure no broadcaster wants to be compared to “muzak”, I find John easy to listen to and he doesn’t get bogged down with all the over-selling.

Oh, and with Vally taking off last game, Carter in-and-out, and Rosen doing football, what will it take for Micheletti to take a night off? I’m telling you, Micheletti should sell his antibodies, as he has the best immune system in the business. Perhaps Swedish man-juice is the cure for the common flu? God damn, as we near New Year’s, I’m feeling sick again for the second time this winter. Whatever Micheletti is doing, it works, as the man is never sick. Fuck it, kudos to Joe Micheletti and his kick ass immune system.

This is a Ricky O-centric blog, but hell, he was one of my first readers and the first person to ever speak out against Lundqvist! Here’s Ricky with someone he’s championed ever since he was signed here, in Cody McLeod.

Right off puck drop, the Rangers played a lot more physical than they have in previous games. Of course, the reason why was because Cody McLeod was back. While I will always prefer Tanner Glass to Cody McLeod, I can not deny that McLeod was huge in this game.

In the early moments of this game, McLeod nailed Subban with a check that Subban wanted a penalty for. To me, it was a clean hit. However, Subban was shook up and it threw him off for the rest of the game. Subban tried to retaliate and he was rattled. When you saw Subban jaw-jacking with his coach at the end of the game, to me, this was a little thing that McLeod was responsible for.

After McLeod’s first hit on Subban, the Predators were off-kilter and took a misconduct penalty. How often do you see that from a Rangers opponent? I’m not trying to lick McLeod’s tip here or anything, but he drew this penalty. The Rangers then went on the power-play, and immediately scored. In fact, it only took the Rangers seven seconds into their PP to score. Here’s Chris Kreider, scoring his 20th goal of the season:


For those keeping track, after Quinn said that he was going to blow up his 5 forward power-play unit, this 5F PP unit now has goals in two straight games. I know Vally was championing for Pionk’s return to the first PP unit, but you can’t argue with results and Kreider is producing those results.

1-0, good guys, at the 2:42 mark of the first period.

At the 7:28 mark of the period, Brady Skjei took a penalty which then led to Nashville goal. Again, how is Skjei better than Claesson? Here’s Nick Bonino, formerly of the “HBK” Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup champion line, at the 8:42 mark:


1-1 game. I’d love to make my little Hank jokes, but to quote the Cult, “THIS WAZN’T HIS FALT!!!!” Seriously speaking, it wasn’t. He was screened and had no chance.

Perhaps the biggest testament of strength occurred later on in the period, when Kreider took a penalty in the offensive zone. Seconds before his penalty expired, Namestnikov was called for a textbook boarding penalty. Thus, the Rangers had to kill four minutes of Nashville on the power-play. The Rangers would just do that, and boy, did it look impressive.

For all the Rangers struggles this season, when it comes to killing crunch time and potential game-changing power-plays, the penalty kill has more often been better than not.

The 2018 Vezina winner, in Pekka Rinne, who in my opinion, is way overpaid for his age, looked jumpy a bit all game. The Rangers would have TWO GOOD LOOKS, but couldn’t increase the lead in this period.

At the end of twenty, Rangers 1, Preds 1.

Lundqvist and Rinne have made more money than Jonathan Quick during their careers, but Quick has two Cups. Again, that’s why you can’t overpay your goalie and both Hank & Rinne are in the Top 5, when it comes to goalie salaries. Photo Credit: Getty Images/NHL.com

In the second period, Jesper Fast, making his return and playing on the first line, would score his first of two goals. It’s funny, I saw many Ranger fans complain about Fast being put on the first line in his return. I couldn’t argue with them when I was “tagged” into potential arguments about Fast’s placement. To me, I thought Fast was put on the first line for his defense, with the hopes of stifling Nashville’s first line offense, which I must admit, was missing Forsberg. By the end of the night, Fast picked up where he left off, and picked up two goals and an assist. Not a shabby return if I say so myself!

Here’s Fast, making the score 2-1 good guys, at the 3:51 mark of the second period:


Of note, this was Zibanejad’s second of four assists in the game. God damn pal, that’s mighty impressive.

However, what wasn’t impressive, was the same old Lundswiss, you know, the guy who gives up the back-breaking and turn-of-momentum goal, right after his team scores. Seriously, if someone charted this, I would bet you a 12 pack of cold Miller Lite and a case of Gretzky 99 Whisky (No letter “E” for you, @Fixxser and @Whalepack) that Lundqvist has given up the most amount of goals, within a minute of his team scoring. I would bet he’s “Heads & Shoulders” (yes, a shampoo joke) above everyone, in at least three of the last four seasons.

So what am I getting at? Here’s Kevin Fiala, who’s become a Ranger killer himself, at just 53 seconds after Fast scored:


For the money, this is one Hank has to stop. 2-2.

At the 6:46 mark, Mattias Ekholm would be boxed. The Rangers did nothing on the power-play.

Then, later on in the period, Strome would go on a breakway. Rinne stopped him. On the rebound, Rinne stopped McLeod. I know Rinne is good and all, but god damn pal, the Rangers have got to score on these chances. Even with four goals scored in the game, the Rangers left 2-3 good goals out there.

At the half-way mark of the game/period, Zuccarello took a dumb penalty. Again, can the Rangers even get a third round pick back for Zucc at this point? Immediately on the Nashville PP, the Preds made the Rangers pay, as once again, Nick Bonino scored:


3-2, bad guys. While Lundqvist was way out of position after making the initial save, it’s hard to kill the goalie on a PPG. To his credit, I was expecting a LUNDQVIST ANGRY STICK SMASH here, but it didn’t happen. He kept his cool. Perhaps someone talked to him after he called out his team for being unskilled.

I wasn’t rooting for it, because I’m not rooting for the tank like some Ranger fans, but if the Rangers lost this game, I could only imagine Lundqvist’s post game interview.

Here’s what I tweeted at the end of the second period:


In other words, the Rangers looked very “skilled” in front of Lundqvist and this eventual win was a 100% TEAM EFFORT.

Jesper Fast had the game winning goal tonight. Photo Credit: Getty Images

At 3-2 bad guys, and entering the third period, I figured this would be the same old shit. The Rangers would tie it up, Nashville would score a late one and then Nashville wins in the OT. Fortunately, that wouldn’t happen.

What did happen, was the Rangers best defenseman, and in someone who has been more offensive oriented than ever before, in Marc FUCKING Staal, tied the game up at 4:23, while playing aside the first line. Here’s Staal:


3-3. Seriously speaking here, Marc Staal has been great this season. While I don’t think anyone will say he’s underpaid, he’s been the best Rangers defenseman of the last two seasons. He’s kind of an unheralded Ranger at this point, where you don’t see much talk about him on a day-to-day basis, but he’s been great all year. I’ve always been a bigger fan of McDonagh and Girardi, but hell, Marc Staal has really stepped up since McDonagh & Girardi went to the Sunshine State.

Three minutes after Staal scored, Jesper Fast ripped his eventual GWG:


I was fist-pumping after this goal and let out a loud “FUCK YEA”, which led my downstairs neighbor to smack her broom on her ceiling/my floor. Come on tank fans, even you guys had to be ecstatic with this goal. 4-3, good guys.

At the 12:38 mark, McLeod would take a penalty. I couldn’t be mad about this, because he was such a dominating factor all game. The Rangers stepped up for McLeod and killed another Nashville penalty.

The Rangers really buckled down in crunch time tonight. Hank made a few good saves. The Rangers wouldn’t let Nashville set up. Then, with Rinne pulled, Zuccarello had a great look at the net, but took an icing call. Micheletti said Zucc played the odds, but aren’t the odds better to skate an extra two feet, so you’re over the red line, then take a shot? By the way, Zucc, as I said above, didn’t look so hot tonight. You just can’t miss two empty nets, which is what he did in this game.

David Quinn, who will get no calls until he establishes some time in the league, was absolutely furious with an icing call, which happened with 1:48 left to play. I forget which Predator it was, but he lolly-gagged to the puck, which led to the icing. You could lip-read Quinn using four letter words at the referee, as he said “HE WAS FUCKING GOING AS SLOW AS FUCKING POSSIBLE!” You’d be hard-pressed to find me arguing with Quinn here, as he was right. Again, this was just another case of Quinn not getting a call in his favor.

After a pair of timeouts from both teams, Nashville tried to set up their 6 vs 5 attack, but the Rangers wouldn’t let the Predators get any real looks at the net. Even better, this is when Subban was throwing a tantrum while on the bench.

With one more face off, and with 2.5 seconds left to go, the Rangers prevented Nashville from a deadly “win-a-faceoff-blast-the-puck-for-a-tying-goal”, as we’ve seen so many times before.

4-3, good guys, the Rangers, against a tough, yet currently struggling team in Nashville.

After tonight’s impressive victory over a quality team, the Rangers will look to close out 2018 on a winning streak, when they head to St. Louis. If there is any game the Rangers should win “on paper”, it’s this one.

If I’m Quinn, I’m giving Georgiev the start. That’s what makes the most sense.

As far as this game with Nashville, the first line really was impressive tonight, McLeod made his name known and Lundqvist didn’t choke at the end. Win, win, win. And really, that’s all I want to see the Rangers do, no matter whose name is circling around the in trade rumors.

Oh, and for the people that I see saying the Rangers “MUST SIGN PANARIN and/or KARLSSON”, you do realize, if you want those two signed, that means you don’t want the Rangers to trade Hayes and Kreider? What would be the point in trading your best players, only to sign two other free agents?

I’m 50-50 about doing a blog after the Blues game. Like Lundqvist, I’ll be 37 in 2019, so going out on New Year’s Eve isn’t a big whoop to me. I drink and hang out enough. Plus, I got a huge trip coming up at the end of the week, and I want to be fresh for that!

I’m also sitting on a CuJo book review, so I hope to get that up soon as well.

Just win baby.

Thanks for reading, and as always…


Sean McCaffrey


@NYCTHEMIC on twitter

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