Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. At least you can’t say that this loss was boring.
In a lot of ways, there was some deja vu on Friday night in Sunrise, Florida when compared to the game the Rangers had last played on Wednesday night, when they hosted (and bested) the Washington Capitals.
In both games, the Blueshirts got off to a poor start but were able to hang in there solely due to their goaltender.
However, and similar to the bad goal that CZAR IGOR allowed to Anthony Mantha at M$G, it was a bad goal allowed to former Penguin Evan Rodrigues, which came after about 986789696 robbery saves (including the best of the season thus far), that broke up Jonathan’s Quick no-no with just 1:45 remaining in the first period.
But unlike the win over Washington – following such a bad goal allowed – the Rangers wouldn’t score five unanswered goals in a response – but that was mainly because of the night that Quick’s peer had in net, the $10M in salary, Sergei Bobrovsky.
The player that both Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti’s pants were bulging over, a bulge so bad that the buttons from their trousers almost took out a few eyeballs (and much more on this during the GAME REVIEW), Sam Reinhart, put the home team up by a score of 2-0 at the 7:12 mark of the second stanza.
Unlike the first goal that Quick had allowed, there was nothing that the goalie could have done on this one.
But these Rangers, even when they lose, don’t give up either.
Following one of the best keeps at the blue line that you’ll ever see from double-nickel, Ryan Lindgren, “The Breadman” then baked his 20th goal of the season at the 13:23 mark.
2-1, bad guys.
But in some more deja vu, and as they had done on Wednesday night, the Rangers quickly scored a second goal within nearly a minute’s worth of time (73-seconds to be exact), as following a turnover that K’ANDRE THE GIANT forced, CUYLLE HAND LUKE then went top-shelf past Bobrovsky on the ensuing two-vs-one odd-man rush.
However, and following a questionable interference penalty called against Braden Schneider – UGH – Sam Rosen ejaculated on-air when screaming about Reinhart’s 3-2 power-play goal scored at the 17:07 mark of this second period.
Reinhart’s second goal of the game, which was pretty much a “Kreider Goal” (a screen/deflection), ended the scoring in the middle period.
Trailing 3-2 to open the final frame, an eventual Kreider-to-Zibanejad one-timed short-handed goal retied the match at the 12:15 mark.
The Rangers, who never led in tonight’s tilt, now had a chance to finally go-ahead.
It wasn’t meant to be.
Just 82-seconds later, and before your ass even plopped back down on your couch when jumping up-and-down over Mika’s shorty – ugh – Carter Verhaeghe scored a loose change goal, a pretty one at that, to put the Panthers up 4-3.
I’m really not into negative team-wide referendums after losses (and as that feckless idiot, Sieve Vagistat, was doing during the M$GN post-game show – but more on that during the GAME REVIEW) – but if there was any really “bad” feeling that I had following tonight’s loss, then it was the fact that Quick didn’t get his tenth win of the season.
He sure deserved it – and where once again – and unlike Vagistat – THE EYE TEST TELLS ALL.
One look at the box score, and then you’ll see that Quick finished this game with four goals allowed, 28 saves on 32 shots (.875% save percentage), and yep, the loss too.
What the black-and-white box score doesn’t tell you is what Quick did in living color – where I’d reckon to guess that at least 75% of his saves were of the robbery variety – and with no save being bigger than the reverse scorpion save that he made in the early stages of the first period – and on a rebound no less.
(The box score also doesn’t tell you about the myriad of missed Rangers’ scoring chances either.)
If there was anything that was truly frustrating about this game, then look no further to the M$GN, and the two buffoons in the booth too, Sam and Joe – as between non-stop audio issues and this pair of mooks smashing their peckers together whenever talking about the Cats – at times, you envied the missing ear of Vincent Van Gogh.
And heck, when you saw Vagistat return to your television screen tonight after a great night of Brian Boyle on Wednesday – then you were also jealous of Helen Keller too.
Not mentioned once on M$GN after the loss – and especially as Vagistat was orating his obituary about the 2023-24 Blueshirts’ season?
How the Rangers are still THE BEST IN THE WORLD – and oh yeah – they also have games in-hand on every team chasing them too:
While yes, this was an uncharacteristic loss for the Rangers, due to the run-n-gun nature of this match – these sixty-minutes felt more like an anomaly – and not an indictment – than anything else.
It was also a game where my season-long daily disclaimer most certainly applies too, you know, the following:
“WHATEVER THE RANGERS DO IN THE REGULAR SEASON DOESN’T MATTER. THEY CAN ONLY BE JUDGED BY WHATEVER THEY DO IN THE 2024 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS!”
And like every other game that the Rangers have lost this season (and not many at that) – I wouldn’t be surprised when the Blueshirts win the return/revenge match against the Panthers when they play next.
After all, “LAVY’S LOT” is batting 1.000 in this department this season.
Speaking of the head coach, at this time, let’s get into all of the pregame news and notes, followed by tonight’s GAME REVIEW.
And let’s make it quick (at least for me – and no – this isn’t a pun with #32’s surname either!), as the Rangers are right back at it tomorrow night in Tampa Bay.
Following the Rangers’ Wednesday night thrashing of the Washington Capitals, come Thursday morning, the team reconvened at their training facility in Tarrytown, NY. Once the practice concluded, the Blueshirts then traveled the blue skies to sunny Florida.
The biggest, and really the only, news from Thursday’s practice was the fact that the team’s captain, Jacob Trouba, was back on the ice.
Once the practice wrapped-up, both “THE GREAT EIGHT” and Laviolette spoke to the media.
Of the two interviews, Trouba’s was more telling and for one reason only – for the first time this season – the Rangers edited out his original remarks:
As you can see from the short video above – the word “concussion” was stricken from the record.
As brought up about 78967869678968976786 times in the past on this site – the “c-word,” as in concussion, is a big NO NO under The Rule of Gary Bettman.
And as also previously explained (check the archives of this site for more), Bettman has said in the past that CTE isn’t real too.
After all, he is a lawyer.
Here’s what the Rangers edited out from the clip according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post:
“[I’m] all good. Played it safe. [A possible concussion] is not something to mess with. I felt good this morning, I felt good skating, it’s all good.
“I don’t know how much [the Rangers] want me to talk about it, but for me, I don’t feel like I can go play if I’m worried that I’m going to get hit.”
On the actual contact/play with Tom Wilson, Trouba added:
“He [Wilson] just kind of cut to the net when I was reaching. It was a hockey play for sure. Things like that happen.”
As you can tell from what Trouba said – even he is aware of the league’s policy on even daring to think about uttering the word “concussion.”
And as you can also gather, and as I said on Wednesday night – there was nothing malicious about the play – even if many wanted it to be – but only because it was Wilson who was involved.
Trouba is A-okay – and at the end of the day – that’s the only thing that matters.
Here was Thursday morning’s “LAVY’S LOUNGE”:
Similar to Trouba’s remarks, Laviolette’s opening statement was also edited out by the Rangers – and as you may have already surmised since this video starts with him speaking in mid-sentence.
Not much was really learnt here, outside of the head coach saying that he supported his captain, health comes first and the obvious – Trouba is a big part of the Rangers’ line-up.
Once all of the interviews were complete, the Rangers also announced that Adam Edstrom (more goals than Filip Chytil this season) was recalled from Hartford.
The call-up was a precautionary measure as a result of the team’s next two games on the road.
(In other words, the twelve regular forwards were all healthy – but as I’ll get into later – I wouldn’t be opposed to giving Edstrom a belated X-Mas present on Saturday – his second NHL game on Saturday night.)
Come Friday, and now in Sunrise, the Rangers held an optional skate where nothing really came out of it.
Here was the final pregame “LAVY’S LOUNGE” prior to tonight’s tilt:
The biggest news from these ninety-seconds was the fact that Jonathan Quick would start against the Panthers, while CZAR IGOR would play the final game of 2023 against the Lightning.
But wait, there’s more.
At around 3PM Friday, and long after both the optional skate and Lavy’s pregame chat, Larry Brooks dropped a bombshell here: https://nypost.com/2023/12/29/sports/filip-chytil-returning-to-czechia-in-next-step-of-concussion-recovery/
As you can read in the link above, the status on Filip Chytil is arguably worse than it ever was before.
Hell, let’s say it – Chytil’s status has never been worse.
The Czech center is now returning to his motherland for what’s being described as “the next step of his recovery, a reset.”
Of course, if #72 was anywhere close to returning, then he wouldn’t be jettisoning off to his family, friends and off-season coaches in Czechia.
And yep, this too:
More-and-more, and at the same age too (24-years-old), Chytil’s fate is looking like Michael Sauer’s (check the archives for more, as I have previously explained all of the similarities).
I know that it may be inhumane to say this, but as the expression goes, “The Show Must Go On”:
Should Chytil be unable to return this season (for what it’s worth, Brooks is saying that the plan is for an eventual return sometime this season after this “reset”), then general manager Chris Drury will have somewhat near an extra $3.8M to play around with.
Perhaps even more inhumane but also true? The following:
The Rangers don’t need Chytil at all, nor have missed a beat without him either.
In fact, the Rangers are arguably better off without him – and we all know how their eye-popping team faceoff percentage stats would have hit rock bottom with him in Lavy’s line-up.
(At the very least, they wouldn’t be tops in the league with a healthy Chytil.)
Just look at the team’s overall record – you know – BEST IN THE WORLD.
From the human end of things (and most importantly at that), and one more time on this site:
You just hope that Chytil can lead a normal life, as believe it or not – there are things in life that are bigger than hockey.
No one wants to see him as a 30-year-old drooling vegetable one day.
In addition, I have no idea what Chytil’s thoughts are on marriage and having kids – but I am to assume that if he wants one of these things, if not both – then he’d like to be cognizant of these future lifetime memories.
I will say, I guess the silver living here is that Chytil is able to travel, as sometimes, people with concussions are advised to stay away from traveling on airplanes.
A silver lining for the Rangers?
Chytil isn’t able to return this season and the money is used to address the team’s biggest need – a bonafide right-winger – and with some spare change for a depth-defenseman too.
And while Chytil could always pull a “Nikita Kucherov” and then return with no salary cap issues to worry about whatsoever come the playoffs, let me ask you this:
Do you really want the Czech’s first game back during the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs – the hardest hitting round of the postseason?
My answer? NO!
(And this question doesn’t even take into account whatever the team’s chemistry level would be at the time either.)
Perhaps the best solution is to write this season off as a wash and then hope for a full recovery come the start of the 2024-25 season.
But again, Chytil’s quality of life is the utmost of concern – and not his hockey career.
Here was Laviolette’s line-up for the thirty-fourth game of this 2023-24 season:
FIRST LINE: Panarin/Trocheck/Lafreniere
SECOND LINE: Kreider/Zibanejad/Wheeler
THIRD LINE: Cuylle/Bonino/Brodzinski
FOURTH LINE: Vesey/Goodrow/Pitlick
FIRST PAIR: Lindgren/Fox
SECOND PAIR: Miller/Trouba
THIRD PAIR: Gustafsson/Schneider
BACK-UP: CZAR IGOR
HEALTHY SCRATCHES: Jones and Edstrom
LONG TERM INJURED RESERVE: Chytil and Kakko
BOX SCORE time.
The following graphics and information come from ESPN.com:
J. Quick G
At 6:30PM, and expecting to see Brian Boyle back in-studio – I got a huge lump in my belated X-Mas stocking when I saw that Sieve Vagistat was back.
Similar to the audio issues that M$GN had all game, Vagistat sounded like he had a lump in his throat too – coal, something that he (allegedly) caught from “The Ramrod” or otherwise.
At 6:30:01PM, and knowing that Henrik Lundqvist was in Sweden, I flipped back to the NHL Network and saved myself from thirty-minutes of ANALytics from the worst back-up goalie in franchise history.
Come 7PM, I returned to M$GN, where Sam and Joe actually praised several Rangers – Schneider, Miller, Panarin and Trocheck.
However, that was all just lip-service, as they immediately then talked about Alexandar Barkov, Matt Tkachuk, Sam Reinhart and pretty much every other Panther known to man – and where it wouldn’t have surprised me if they had started to praise the Black Panthers and the Carolina Panthers too.
“OH JOE, THAT BRYCE YOUNG JOE. THE POWER-PLAY QUARTERBACK JOE!”
This would continue throughout the entire broadcast – and where NO – I’m not making this up either:
At one point during the game, these two jackals started talking about the great work that Marc Staal had done for the Panthers last season.
How that was relevant tonight I do not know – and where they even omitted the fact, that you know – Staal’s peak years, his NHL legacy, all came with the Rangers.
No joke – I was just waiting for these two bozos to tell us all about John Vanbiesbrouck’s heroics for the Panthers during the 1995-96 season.
And yep, and by now, you should know this too:
Whenever I’m railing so much against the M$GN broadcast, then you know that the Rangers lost!
But seriously – this broadcast was god-awful and everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves.
GAME REVIEW time.
Perhaps this game was doomed from the start, as for whatever reason (the Rangers’ beat reporters don’t ask questions like this), Laviolette went with his second line to begin tonight’s game – rather than his fourth line – and as he has been doing more times than not.
To be fair, Zibanejad (57.9%) did win the opening draw, but after that, it was pretty much all downhill for the remainder of this period, that is, outside of the work exhibited from Quick, Miller and Trouba.
Also of note, and as mentioned at the top:
This broadcast must’ve been produced in a junior high school’s A/V room, as there were horrendous audio issues all game.
Seriously, Sam and Joe sounded like they were on mute (not the worst thing in the world) and then when a commercial came on – the windows in your house broke due to the high decibel levels.
While it wasn’t Rosen’s fault, he sounded like he was using the same equipment from his rookie season – when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1933:
“OH JOE, I DON’T KNOW IF CAPTAIN BILL COOK CAN SCORE TONIGHT JOE – AND OH WAIT AND DAMN IT, IT’S A POWER-PLAY GOAL FOR #5! BUT SPOILER ALERT JOE, I HAVE A TIME MACHINE JOE, AND COOK AND COMPANY AREN’T AS GOOD AS SAM REINHART JOE! DREAMY JOE! CUM IN MY PANTS JOE! SPANK ME AS HARD AS YOU CAN JOE!”
Despite the poorly produced broadcast and low audio levels – we still heard the loud “Let’s Go Rangers” chants at the start of the game – and saw about 3,000 empty seats dead-center too.
The majority of this period felt like the Panthers averaging about thirty-seconds or more of zone time in the Rangers’ end and with the Blueshirts relying on Quick to keep the score nil-nil.
To the Blueshirts’ credit – they were blocking shots too.
With 18:05 to go, Vesey blocked Sam Bennett.
Ah, what could’ve been, as if it wasn’t for Jeff Gorton’s ego, then the Rangers could have traded Tony DeAngelo to Calgary for Bennett in January of ’21 – and they wouldn’t have this concussion mess with Chytil on their hands today either.
Come 17:30 remaining, the first of many long shifts in the Rangers’ d-zone, but a Florida shot went wide and where the Gustafsson/Schneider pair were able to survive.
Forty-five seconds later, Trouba was obviously back and not hurting at all, as he crushed Lomberg with a big hit – but again – during another lengthy Panthers’ attack.
Down to 14:15 remaining, the save of the season:
— David 🏒 (@DaveyUpper) December 30, 2023
This save was all-out insanity – and so was this play too.
This play all started with an OEL shot that was deflected to the corner, Miller stunting Lundell, Lafreniere blocking a shot and then a shot from Luostarinen – followed by Quick’s rebound scorpion save, reverse scorpion save, “Triple Lindy Save” – whatever you want to call it – but make no bones about it – the best save that we’ve seen thus far this season.
Quick’s heroics trumped all – as Sam and Joe didn’t even notice that Lafreniere was hunched over, wincing and barely skating after blocking a shot.
However, and despite looking like he had eaten shrapnel from a Revolutionary War musket – Lafreniere was fine and never missed a shift.
But of course, and say it with me in the Jan Brady voice:
“QUICK, QUICK, QUICK!”
With the Panthers treating the Rangers like their own personal litter box, the Rangers got a reprieve when with 13:50 remaining, Kevin Stenlund tripped Panarin.
In other words, the Rangers, who looked like me trying to out-race a Kenyan, got a break.
Now with a chance to score the game’s first goal on the power-play – the Blueshirts’ power-play was a failure.
Somehow, Bobrovsky got credited for two shorthanded saves – and I can’t recall one of them.
What I do recall is how Mika turned over the puck after mishandling a simple pass, not one pass connecting either, three Florida clears and Lavy’s PP2 unit coming on with 45-seconds remaining.
But to harp on this particular powerless play is pointless – especially considering that the Rangers’ power-play is the best in the league.
But yeah – this wasn’t good – and sadly – this wasn’t even the worst Rangers’ power-play of the game either.
Down to 11:15 remaining and now at full-strength, Trouba blocked an OEL backhander while Quick was screened – and perhaps prevented a goal in the process.
On our returning captain, THE GREAT EIGHT led all skaters in blocked shots, five in total.
So yeah – he’s fine.
Following Trouba’s block, the Rangers got into the Florida zone and where Trocheck got in front of the net and drop-passed to Fox. Fox then did the same to Panarin. So instead of taking a SOG here, all of this passing allowed the Panthers to catch up and then block Panarin’s attempted shot.
Come 10:15 remaining, more BIG DICK QUICK, as this time, JQ32 robbed Lomberg.
Up next, the first of four Ranger breakaways (0-4 tonight) and where after this game, I believe that the Blueshirts are now zero for their last 7896436724678242807802478284 breakaways.
The first offender tonight was Kreider, as Bobrovsky easily swatted away this try with 9:45 remaining.
As Sam waxed poetic about “OLD FRIEND MIKA MAKKOLA JOE” (Niko Mikkola), Bob came up with a big save on Trocheck with 8:25 remaining – and with the Rangers finding their legs a bit too.
A minute later, and no, I’m not making this up either, more deja vu:
After Rosen cried on-air Wednesday night about the struggling Alex Ovechkin, this senile old coot did the exact same thing with the Panthers’ Matt Tkachuk.
I’m not sure who is exactly struggling in Tampa Bay right now, but you can bet your bottom-dollar that you’ll hear this long-past his prime announcer tell you all about it, and with tears in his eyes too, tomorrow night.
It may not be the worst thing if the Rangers/M$GN left Rosen in Florida after this trip – as that’s where all New Yorkers go to – well you know.
Come 7:00 remaining, Cuylle, and again, more deja vu, as he did the same against Washington (and really, with everyone else this season too) held his own with Kulikov.
Despite Cuylle’s clean yet massive hit – and where Kulikov swiped at his head in a response – no penalty.
Keep this in mind for later.
As Sam was pounding his pud to the great Sam Reinhart, the two announcers missed a Rangers’ penalty with 5:37 remaining, as Trocheck had hooked Montour.
This was a bad penalty to take – and as all o-zone infractions are.
Miller made the best play on this PK, as he thwarted away a centering pass right in front of Quick.
“OH JOE, SAM REINHART IS OUR KIA CARD PLAYER OF THE GAME JOE!”
Kia Card Player of the game – and with 45-minutes left to play.
Bless Sam’s (Rosen) heart.
Quick continued his great work in net – but Sam was more focused on telling us all about every draft pick in Florida Panthers’ history – rather than telling us about the saves being made.
Seriously, if Sam and Joe want a national TV gig, then go for it. We just don’t need sixty-minutes of fellating the other team every night on (an alleged) Rangers’ broadcast. Nobody else does this.
Following the kill, Bobrovsky, just as good as Quick, made two big saves of his own, as he stopped a Lindgren one-timer and then robbed Lafreniere. Had Lafreniere raised this puck one-inch higher, then who knows?
However, we know that he didn’t, so we remained scoreless.
After Bob stopped Cuylle and Quick came up with another monster of a robbery on Barkov with 1:30 to go – ugh – Rodrigues scored his fluky little goal with just 75-seconds remaining.
1-0, bad guys.
This was backbreaking, not only for Quick who was remarkable otherwise, but because this was a late goal afforded.
I know that some fans wanted to blame Zibanejad and Wheeler for this goal allowed, and while it obviously sucked – it was just one of those plays where you have to remind yourself that the other team is paid to play too – and Florida usually plays well.
Quick then stopped his next shot faced, a stop on Montour, with 24-seconds remaining.
Trouba almost tied the game with 12-seconds remaining, but despite a mini Trouba Bomb knocking Bob’s stick out of his hands – the save was made.
1-0, bad guys, through 20-minutes.
Not exactly the best period that we’ve seen this season either.
Here’s what I said at the time:
1-0, bad guys, after 20. 1P Thoughts:
— This M$GN broadcast is terrible. Audio issues all game.
— Quick has been fantastic, which makes that one goal allowed so blah.
— Don’t need a negative team-wide referendum as others are doing – 99.9% of the time, they bounce back.
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) December 30, 2023
As Rosen shrieked, “SECOND PERIOD, WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR HERE JOE?” (“Some goals, ya senile bastard”), the Rangers took the opening draw.
With 18:16 remaining, and in some more deja vu from Wednesday – the Blueshirts got off to a hot start.
Two passes in succession, from Lindgren and Panarin, set-up a shot for Trocheck which was ultimately denied – but it was a good play.
After that, THE GUS BUS went wide, Bonino screened Bob for a GOOD LOOK for JONNY HOCKEY, but the goalie held on.
This is when Sam and Joe did their Ode to Bobrovsky – but they did mention his insane contract too.
Funny how they never talked about what Lundqvist was making several years ago – a topic like “concussions” – was a major no-no on these broadcasts.
But every other top-paid goalie in the league was, and still is, open for debate!
The Rangers kept plugging away, as with 17:20 remaining, Vesey screened Bob, but to the goalie’s credit, he was able to stop a GUS BUS shot.
While on the same shift, and about thirty-seconds later – breakaway chance #2 – and another save for Bob, this time on Vesey.
A minute later, and with 15:45 remaining?
Breakaway chance #3 – and Bob’s third save of this variety, this time on Blake Wheeler.
Again, the Rangers lost by one goal tonight.
Another failed scoring play?
Right after this, Fox found Lafreniere wide-open, but the first-overall pick couldn’t finish – again.
However, and I guess this is some improvement – he hit right under the crossbar – but not fully underneath it. Had the latter taken place, then this would’ve been a goal.
That said, Lafreniere could have had an assist here, as on the ricochet off of the iron, all Panarin, from right outside the crease, had to do was lift the puck over Bobrovsky’s leg. He didn’t, so instead, Bob came up with another timely save – and kept his shutout at the time in-tact too.
Take a look:
— Sᴘᴏʀᴛs 24/7 (@Sports_24x7_) December 30, 2023
At this moment in the game, the Rangers very easily could’ve had five more goals – and the same goes for the Panthers too.
The fact that this game finished with “only” a score of 4-3, seven goals in total, is a miracle.
Had you had some of these Canadian goalies playing tonight, like the backstops in Toronto, Edmonton, Montreal, etc – then this would’ve been an 11-10, 10-9, 9-8 affair – and akin to something straight out of the 1980s era of NHL.
What happened right after this?
With 13:30 remaining, Barkov hit the crossbar!
However, we soon had a goal, as with 12:48 remaining, and with Miller just missing preventing this shot by an inch or two – Reinhart, from in the crease, potted a puck that Quick had no chance on.
2-0, bad guys – and where white sticky fluid rained down from the M$GN broadcast booth.
Seriously, I thought that Rosen was going to orgasm, if not have a heart attack, when celebrating this goal.
I’m not exaggerating – he had to be salivating when this goal took place, as right away, he then read Reinhart’s Wikipedia bio word-for-word.
It got so bad, and again, I’m not making this up, that both Sam and Joe looked deep into each other’s eyes, caressed each other, exchanged hotel keys and then just flat-out ignored what was going on at ice level.
When a whistle took place with about 11:30 remaining, both men said a penalty had occurred. In reality, the Panthers were offside – but since they were too busy tongue-bathing Reinhart – they had no clue.
Once they finally ejaculated and toweled themselves off, this is when Rosen said, “OH JOE, TKACHUK IS STRUGGLING JOE! I AM HEARTBROKEN JOE. WHAT CAN HE DO TO SCORE MORE GOALS JOE?”
Outside of the heartbroken stuff – Sam really said this – and again – ON A RANGERS’ BROADCAST WHEN THEY WERE TRAILING 2-0.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS GUY?
Down to 11:08 remaining, Lundell was boxed for roughing JONNY HOCKEY after Brodzinski was stopped by Bobrovsky.
The less said about this horrendous power-play, one that didn’t register one shot on goal, the better.
In other words, the Rangers were now 0-2 in their bread-and-butter department.
As the two teams continued to trade never-ending chances at 5 x 5; come 6:55 remaining, Quick stopped a Forsling one-timer.
This save allowed the Rangers to go on the attack – and finally – score their first goal of the game too:
Panarin gets the Rangers on the board! pic.twitter.com/kZ10WSPGUY
— Rangers Videos (@SNYRangers) December 30, 2023
2-1, bad guys.
This goal was all about Lindgren’s keep at the blue line (Rosen called him Gustafsson) – and really – if such things were possible, then I would’ve given #55 joint custody of a primary assist here too!
Lindgren showed off some offensive-awareness here, as he sent the puck to the center of the ice, where Lafreniere, his neighbor in their NYC apartment building (I only say this to say that they have chemistry), then fed “The Breadman.”
After so many chances, trials & tribulations if you will – the Rangers finally got the former two-time Vezina Trophy winner to break.
73-seconds later, this is when Miller, and similar to Lindgren, personally set-up a goal:
CUYLLE WITH THE GOAL AND THIS GAME IS TIED
— Rangers Videos (@SNYRangers) December 30, 2023
2-2 – and where the Miller haters had to take a timeout.
I don’t want to get into all of this again, but I really don’t know what the expectations are.
Miller is still relatively young, it takes longer for a d-man to acclimate to the NHL level and all he does is eat 21, 22, 23, 24+ minutes a night.
Does he have his bad moments? Sure, but what other d-man is absolutely flawless?
If anything, and we saw some of it tonight (four hits and where on one of them – he sent Rodrigues flying to Jacksonville), then you just want to see Miller use his towering frame in a more physical manner.
To me, Miller’s good largely outweighs his bad, and I don’t know why so many want him traded away.
And really – what are the options?
The prepubescent looking Zac Jones?
Only Stalk Boy Steven would like that!
While this hasn’t really been true that much this season, an ugly Rangers’ cliche took place next:
“We can’t have nice things.”
With 4:09 remaining, Schneider was boxed for interfering with a diving Barkov.
This was most certainly questionable – and not a penalty you’d see called in the playoffs.
But to be fair, you could also argue that the penalty that Brodzinski drew is a penalty that you’d never see in the postseason either.
Quick, who had just robbed Bennett prior to this penalty kill commencing, then robbed Reinhart with 55-seconds remaining during the Panthers’ PP.
He wouldn’t rob him again, as with 2:53 remaining, Rosen jizzed again (what an impressive and quick recovery time for an elderly senior citizen) as Reinhart scored his Kreider goal, following a shot from the point from Barkov.
3-2, bad guys.
From this point on, and it was already bad at this point – for the rest of the game, all Sam would talk about is Barkov, Tkachuk and Reinhart.
Rosen has been absolutely brutal in the past – but this was over-the-top.
The end of the period saw Tkachuk miss the net on a 2 x 1 odd-man rush, and then, just as the horn was about to go off – Lafreniere missed on a breakaway.
In other words, Lafreniere had the anti hat trick – a shot off the iron, a robbery save and missing on a breakaway.
More on him below.
3-2, through forty-minutes. Here’s what I said at the time:
3-2, bad guys, after 40. 2P Thoughts:
— Well, you can’t say this has been boring. This easily could be a 5-5, 6-6, game.
— These poor goalies.
— #NYR are now 0 for their last 38383838838842 breakaways
— Time for Mika and Kreider to step up
— Really want this win for JQ…
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) December 30, 2023
Not gonna lie – I really thought that the Rangers were going to find another way – again.
At just the 49-second mark, Quick stopped Forsling on a Florida 3 x 2 odd-man rush. In a response, this is when Rosen, and for who knows why, started going on-and-on about Marc Staal’s 2022-23 season.
Following another save from Quick, this is when Lavy started double-shifting Panarin – and where we didn’t see Tyler Pitlick at all this period.
In total, Pitlick logged a team-low 6:33 of ice time.
While by default, Pitlick is the team’s 12th forward – I don’t know what he did to become the lone scapegoat. (Maybe he received an injury? I really don’t know, as I can’t explain otherwise for this benching. And of course, this question was never asked to Laviolette in his post-game presser either.)
As Rosen actually said, “OH JOE, SAM REINHART JOE, NEVER BETTER JOE,” Panarin almost had what felt like what could’ve been his 20th assist of the game, but Bob stopped a Trocheck one-timer with fifteen-minutes remaining.
Right after that, Verhaeghe hit the post and Trouba made a save too!
All of this was a reminder that ACTUAL GOALS > EXPECTED GOALS.
To fast-forward a bit, as it’s getting late (full play-by-play here: https://twitter.com/NYCTheMiC ), both goalies continued to exchange saves.
While I wouldn’t say that defense was a focus, but there was less scoring chances during these final twenty-minutes compared to what we had seen during the first forty-minutes.
With 10:00 remaining, Miller, the newest d-man that many Ranger fans have a hard-on for, blocked/stopped a Florida 3 x 2 odd-man rush. Trouba then did the same some fifty-seconds later, when he threw off Tkachuk – and much to the dismay of Rosen.
With 8:37 remaining – the game’s most controversial play – even if it did work out in the end for the Rangers.
As Barkov was playing the puck, he collided with Lafreniere. Admittedly, Lafreniere’s knee was high, but on replay, his knee never got a piece of Barkov – but his shoulder did hit Barkie’s head.
The referees called a five-minute major on Lafreniere – but only so they could review the penalty.
I know that Laviolette thought that no penalty had taken place here (watch his post-game presser below), and I know that many Blueshirt Backers concurred with the bench boss too – but I was fine with the end result – a two-minute minor on Lafreniere.
I was only fine with it because I would be screaming bloody murder if the Rangers weren’t afforded a power-play had the tables been turned.
But yes – and similar to what we saw with Wilson and Trouba from Wednesday – you could’ve just said that this was a hockey play, and more importantly, and like Wayne & Garth – “GAME ON!”
And of course, maybe I’m looking at this call with 20/20 hindsight, because with the Rangers now on the PK, this happened:
Mika makes magic shorthanded to tie the game in Florida 🔥 pic.twitter.com/hsB5MDdxeH
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) December 30, 2023
3-3 – a shorthanded goal for MIKA – and following an excellent pass from his BFF, CHRISTOPHER JAMES.
No joke – Trocheck celebrated this goal so hard, that when he shoved Panarin in jubilation – I thought that #10 had been sent back to Russia.
But this celebration tells you how much this team roots for each other.
And yep – I thought that this strike was going to be the goal that kicked off the comeback too.
However, just fourteen seconds after both the shorty and the successful penalty kill – this is when Carty V. made it 4-3, bad guys – and where to his credit – it was a hardworking loose change goal (Sam).
I don’t watch these games with a stopwatch, but now down 4-3 and approaching the FOXWOODS FINAL FIVE MARK – I think that Panarin sat for maybe 45-seconds tops.
As the Rangers attacked, Sam actually lamented about Barkov not picking up his fourth assist of the night on the eventual game-winning goal.
Does anyone get as riled-up and as irate about this shit like me?
With 2:00 to go, Quick went to the bench and where for the remainder of the game, Lavy skated his PP1 unit and Lafreniere.
Now down to 59.5 seconds, and following a Panthers’ icing – Lavy used his timeout. While at the bench, you could see Panarin telling Lafreniere to pay attention to Michael Peca and company.
Once back to play – Lafreniere broke his stick.
Much like their two previous man-advantages – the Rangers never got a GOOD LOOK during their 6 x 5 empty net attack.
4-3, bad guys, your final.
If there was one silver lining, then it was what happened next on the M$GN post-game show.
As I was making tonight’s horrible photoshop/blog header, I left the M$GN running on my TV.
No joke, and you can watch it for yourself – Vagistat was acting like this was a Game 7 playoff loss.
He was ripping the team left-and-right, said that the Rangers looked like a beer-league team and then said that Laviolette would be shredding the team for this effort.
I understand, and mainly because I rely on my eyes and not on bullshit charts – that not every game is the same – which is how ANALytics treats the sport.
I’m still waiting for Vagistat’s chart on the mental health factor too – or anything else human-element related.
Since M$GN had A/V issues, we never saw Laviolette’s post-game – which meant that we didn’t get to see Vagistat’s reaction when the head coach debunked all of the shit that was spewing out of his seven-foot pie-hole:
It gets worse – or better – depending on how you view the smug jackass.
As Vagistat was giving the Rangers their last rites during his eulogy – he actually criticized Jacob Trouba for being fine with the Blueshirts’ effort – where again – you know – THE BEST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE.
Vagistat, despite his surname, then had the gonads to suggest that he has the makings of a good head coach.
For those who need a reminder (full story in my books and on the archives of this site too) – no NHLer in this league has been more fortunate of circumstances than Vagistat.
If it wasn’t for the fact that there was a salary cap installed, coupled with the fact that Lundqvist played 70 games in 82-game seasons during his prime years – then Vagistat would have never had an NHL career.
With Lundqvist at the peak of his powers, the Rangers just needed the cheapest schmuck they could find to ride the pine – and then give up ten goals to the Dallas Stars whenever he rarely played.
Furthermore, if the Rangers weren’t rebuilding and selling off talent (Petr Nedved in this instance) – and prior to what eventually became the salary cap era (2004-05 NHL lockout) – then it would’ve been Jussi Markkanen – and not Sieve Vagistat – as Lundqvist’s back-up.
(Holy dashes Batman!)
History doesn’t lie – even if the former Islander, Vagistat himself, always tries to revise it.
Seriously, the worst back-up goalie in Rangers’ history and this is who M$GN force-feeds us?
What, is Pavel Brendl not available?
But to me, and this is the best part, which is why I’m closing with it – was JOHN “FROM THE PROJECTS IN BOONTON” GIANNONE.
As every ounce of shit was squirting out of Vagistat’s mealy mouth – BIG BRASS BALLS JOHNNY debunked every word of it – and put this jerkoff on his heels in the process!
“The Rangers played a horrible game and they’d never win a game like this.” – S.V.
“The Panthers did the same and they just won.” – J.G.
“But the Panthers have playoff experience.” – S.V.
“So do the Rangers.” – J.G.
“The Panthers won the Presidents’ Trophy two seasons ago.” – S.V.
“The Rangers are the best team in the league today.” – J.G.
Where was Brian Boyle tonight?
Working in the NHL studios, about a ten-minute ride from the M$GN studios.
Seriously, M$GN, it’s time – get rid of this loser and replace him with Boyle.
Up next: The 2023 finale, against who else, one of the Rangers’ biggest nemesis’ from the past eight-years – the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Expect an all Russian, all Vezina, goalie duel between CZAR IGOR and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Final thought going into tomorrow’s game?
It might not be the worst thing in the world to give the monstrous Adam Edstrom a shot – and the elderly Nick Bonino, on the second-half of a back-to-back, a blow.
But to be fair – Lavy always gives his guys a chance to redeem themselves after a loss.
See ya late Saturday night.
PLUGS TIME! (Buy a book and support my Rangers’ induced therapy bills. After all, I don’t run ads on this site!)
On Thursday night, our pals over at “The Blueshirt Underground Show” returned with a new episode.
To watch/listen to it, click the play button below:
My fourth title and tenth book is now available!
“The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History,” is now available for sale!
For complete information, please visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/rangerkillers/
My second plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden.”
As mentioned previously, the book is now available in hardcover, in paperback and in Kindle formats. To purchase a copy of the book, visit this link:
For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have re-ordered more copies. I now have a few signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:
My four-volume set of books, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is a game-by-game recount of the Rangers 2021-22 campaign.
My second title as an author, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is now available in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats.
To obtain signed copies, visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/onegamebook/
To purchase all four volumes on Amazon, visit: Amazon.com – “One Game at a Time.”
The greatest volume-set of books on Rangers’ history today!
“Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History,” a four-volume set of books that meticulously covers every trade made in franchise history, is now on sale.
All four volumes of the title can be purchased on Amazon.com and are presented in three different formats – eBook, paperback and hardcover.
To purchase Volume I: Conn Smythe (1926) – Craig Patrick (1986), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume II: Phil Esposito (1986) – Neil Smith (2000), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume III: Glen Sather (2000-2015), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume IV: Jeff Gorton (2015) – Chris Drury (2022), visit Amazon.com
To purchase signed copies of all four volumes, visit https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/
Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:
NYR/WSH 12/27 Review: K’Andre The Giant’s Three-Pointer Bests Blueshirts Over Caps – But Does Anyone Know if Alex Ovechkin is Struggling? Trouba Injury, “Dominick The Dolce” & Lone CZAR IGOR Flaw Mars An Otherwise Perfect Post X-Mas Return For Best In The World Rangers, Lafreniere Snaps Schneid; B-Schneids Scores Too, “The Family Guy” Peter Laviolette, M$GN’s Best Studio Show Yet & More
NYR/BUF 12/23 Review: Miracle On 34th Street! Mika’s Two (Assists) Avoids a Meeting of Mr. Hanky The Christmas Poo; Kreider Kringle Wins It, Santa Shesty’s Three (OT) Gifts to Ranger Fans, Cuylle’s Coal For Not-So-Jolly Johnson, “Tinsel Town” Trouba’s Terrific Night, Jeff “The Red-Nosed Clown” Skinner, Breadman Bakes Xmas Cookies, More Bad Puns, Lafreniere’s Adult Films & Hallmark Movie Status, Laviolette, Lazarus Rises, M$GN & More
NYR/EDM 12/22 Review: “LAVY’S LOT” Dominates First Two Periods; Forgets About The Final Twenty Minutes in Blah Loss to Oil Cans, Quick’s First Blemish Marred By Many Cliches Including “Bad Ice,” “One of Those Nights” & “On To The Next One,” Panarin Streak Snapped, Kakko & Chytil Updates, ESPN+, MVP Emily Kaplan & Marble-Mouth Ray Ferraro, Stan Fischler, “Beasts of the East” & More
If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:
Don’t forget to order my recently released four-volume set of books, “Tricks of the Trade!”
If you don’t order through me, all four volumes are now available on Amazon.com
For more details, check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/
Thanks for reading.
LET’S GO RANGERS!
@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine