NYR/TBL 12/30 Review: Happy New Year! BEST IN THE WORLD BLUESHIRTS Close 2023 with a Five-Goal Bang; Panarin Bakes a Hat Trick for CZAR IGOR’s Birthday, Rangers’ Roster Review/Referendum, Refs Ruin Shutout, Nonna Trocheck’s Bambino Four-Point Night; GAG Line 2.0?, Trouba Goes BEAST Mode, Sam Rosen Drinking Game, Historic Streaks & More

While “The Breadman,” government name Artemi Panarin, will receive the lede in all recounts of the Rangers’ 5-1 throttling of the Tampa Bay Lightning from Saturday night (and all of these headlines are deserved); the fact of the matter, and once again at that, is that “LAVY’S LOT” displayed a complete team-wide sixty-minute effort – and where come the final horn – they closed 2023 on a high note. As a result of this statement victory, the Rangers continued to extend many of their positive records and streaks, including going 6-0 on the second half of back-to-back games, improving to 9-1-0 following a loss (only one two-game losing streak this season), and perhaps most importantly – THE BEST IN THE WORLD BLUESHIRTS became the first team in the league to surpass the fifty-point mark in the standings – and the first time this franchise has done so since the 1993-94 season. While every campaign is independent of another, you may have heard what happened thirty-years ago in the Big Apple!

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. <Hic>

And Happy New Year too!

For those unaware why I started off tonight’s blog with <hic>, an action that implies heavy alcohol consumption (and I am writing this blog with one-eye open – and with that old Creed song, “My Sacrifice,” blasting in the background) – then scroll on down to the “SAM ROSEN DRINKING GAME” segment!

Needless to say – I waxed a bottle of Buffalo Trace before tonight’s tilt had even hit the first intermission!

And the less said about the 12-pack of Labatt Blue that I’m currently rifling down my gullet – the better!

But for what it’s worth, and for a man of many cliches, I do strictly abide by this one:

“Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.”

(Uncle Sean always has your best interests in mind – even when idiotically speaking in the third-person!)

But we can get into all of that below, as my own stupid shenanigans are secondary to what we saw on Saturday night, where as a result of the “Lightning Crashing” (who else remembers the band “Live?”) – the Blueshirts continued to prove their dominance over the league:

The Blueshirts remain THE BEST IN THE WORLD! Photo Credit: ESPN

As the Rangers close the year at the 43% mark of the 2023-24 campaign, and even as the team with the most man-games lost (injuries) in the league – you just wish that the Stanley Cup Playoffs would commence come the first day of 2024.

After all – doesn’t this all feel like a dream?

Following one of the worst playoff choke jobs in franchise history this past May, a seven-game series loss to an arch-rival no less (the Devils), and where the team’s top 1-2 scoring punch, Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin, were nowhere to be found in the box scores either – general manager Chris Drury, perhaps with his own behind on the hot seat (you can’t predict team owner James Dolan) – pressed the reset button and fired Gerard Gallant.

(I have to be driving the editor of all ten of my books, the great Diane Eck, absolutely nuts with my non-stop usage of dashes! Happy New Year Diane and thank you! And oh – to these two morons who accuse me of being “sexist” for not being a fan of birdbrain Mollie – a female has the last say on everything that I publish to the masses in all of my books! What a heathen!)

As they say – “you can’t fire players, but you can fire coaches.”

After finally “settling” on Peter Laviolette following his six-week search for head coach #37 in Rangers’ history, Drury had a summer where perhaps the best word to describe it was “unexcitable.”

A bevy of pensioners and NHL senior citizens (and by now – you know all of the names), all signed for six-figures, were the “crown jewels” of Drury’s off-season.

Fast-forward to today – and the general manager is looking like a genius – and while the ghosts of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs won’t – and can’t – be exorcised – these 2023-24 Blueshirts are doing their best damn “Ghostbuster” act in their attempts to put all demons into Egon Spengler’s containment tank.

(Sorry Diane – I can’t stop with the dashes! And RIP to Harold Ramis too!)

While we aren’t even at the half-way mark of the season just yet, and a lot can change from now and through April (and then hopefully into June) – there’s a lot to be happy about in the mean-and-jaded streets of Rangerstown, USA.

And with this present Blueshirts’ team on a historic heater, even matching (and sometimes exceeding) the impressive feats that the 1993-94 squad once set – that’s why you wish that the playoffs would start tomorrow.

Another idea, and one from the glass half-full realm?

Perhaps these Rangers haven’t even peaked yet – and if that’s the case – then watch out.

(A sign of such peaking? A breakaway goal every now and again!)

But of course – reality – which brings us to my season-long daily disclaimer, you know, the following:


That said, you can only play the next team on the schedule – and even as playoff expectations will continue to grow with each regular season win – I rather enjoy it now – and then bite off my fingernails – if not my whole damn thumb too – come the Spring!

There’s not a line hotter, better and more productive in the NHL right now than the Panarin/Trocheck/Lafreniere line – and just to think – this line was only put together due to a happenstance – following Filip Chytil’s most recent bout with concussions. Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

How hot are the Rangers right now?

Try on the following for size:

In just 26-games together following Chytil’s concussion, Panarin has 23 goals, Lafreniere has 10 goals and Trocheck has 9 goals. That’s a grand total of 42 goals.

In other words, even if this line doesn’t score again in their next sixteen games played – then they are still averaging a GOAL A GAME.

And should they continue their pace?

Then they should easily surpass the single-season scoring records of the second best line in franchise history, the GAG LINE, a legendary trio featuring three names in the rafters of M$G – Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle and Vic Hadfield.

(Best line in franchise history in my opinion? The first “BREAD LINE” – Bill Cook, Frank Boucher and Bun Cook – and three names that the Rangers disgracefully and ignorantly ignore from their rafters today. For more, check out my first book which is plugged below.)

While speaking about scoring, not only is Christopher JAMES Kreider continuing his path in becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in goals – but his BFF, D.J. Mika, and following his own slow start – now has 9 goals and 8 assists in his last ten-games played.

And then there is the defense.

Jacob Trouba, who at times, can be a one-man penalty killing machine (and as we saw tonight), leads the league in blocked shots – and he isn’t that far off from leading the league in hits too.

The two goalies (Igor Shestyorkin and Jonathan Quick), following CZAR IGOR’s slump after a groin injury, are now the best tandem in league – and where it doesn’t matter who starts in net.

The Rangers’ fourth line?

They can easily become the best fourth-line trio in franchise history, as the Jimmy Vesey, Barclay Goodrow and Tyler Pitlick line is challenging the 2013-14 group (Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore, Derek Dorsett and sometimes Dan Carcillo too) for that title.

(And yes, fourth lines didn’t become a thing until much later in NHL history – but I’ve already explained this in the past on this site.)

And go figure – I haven’t even mentioned the 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox, nor his partner either, Ryan Lindgren.

And of course, you also have Erik “THE GUS BUS” Gustafsson, enjoying one of the best seasons of his veteran career – and where no one can forget about how he stepped in for Fox when he went down with injury.

The two younger rearguards on the team, K’Andre Miller and Braden Schneider, have also pitched in their fair share, where today – it now looks like both men have overcome their early struggles this season.

Other struggling forwards, who now seem to be more acclimated to their new surroundings than ever, Blake Wheeler and Nick Bonino, have found their roles.

And when you need someone in a pinch and to embrace the “NEXT MAN UP” mentality, then players such as Louie Domingue, Jonny Brodzinski and Adam Edstrom have played admirably – and to a lesser extent – Zac Jones too.

But of course, every excellent team, teams with their eyes on the prize, needs some young blood, a rookie who can ignite the team when needed.

Hello CUYLLE HAND LUKE, as Will Cuylle, a proficient scorer in his own right, has sacrificed his own personal glory for the betterment of the team – and where his defense, blocked shots and big hits have been on display all season. And hey – he has pitched in a few goals too!

Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil who?

What the Rangers are doing right now, especially with all of the man-games lost, is pretty much unprecedented.

But don’t lose sight of the ultimate end goal – as it’s up to Peter Laviolette to become the fourth coach in franchise history (Lester Patrick twice, Frank Boucher and Mike Keenan) to deliver the fifth Stanley Cup.

Should that happen – then Lavy, once drafted by the Rangers, and who has had many coaching stints throughout the league, will always be considered as a BLUESHIRT FOR LIFE.

And oh – I guess I should talk about tonight’s game too!

And some of you, like that idiot Sieve Vagistat who wrote off the Rangers last night, wanted to give up on CZAR IGOR. For shame, FOR SHAME!

In their 2023 finale, the Rangers went wire-to-wire against one of their new rivals, the Bolts.

At just the 1:51 mark, Panarin, who went on to score a hat trick, scored his first goal of game.

The Rangers never looked back.

Going into this game (and how cocky, or perhaps confident, is this?) – I thought that the Rangers would cruise to victory.

After all, following their previous nine losses, they then went on to win their next game on eight separate occasions.

Plus, and with CZAR IGOR celebrating his 28th trip around the sun – I just felt that the Blueshirts would play up for him.

And oh yeah – who wants to fly home in a bad mood?

Following Panarin’s opening strike, Vincent Trocheck cleaned up some loose change to put the good guys up 2-0 at the 7:36 mark.

We didn’t know it then – but for Trocheck, who also added three apples to his basket – this held up as tonight’s game winning goal.

A large reason why only two goals were needed for the win, and two-points in the standings too, was because of the team’s defense.

Trouba, a man absolutely possessed to get CZAR IGOR his birthday win, blocked a game-high five shots – and for good measure – also led all skaters with eight hits too.

The Rangers’ fourth line, and as they always do, once again shut down another team’s top line – and where you should really let this sink in – as this is extremely impressive.

The only blemish for the Blueshirts took place late into the second period, at the 17:39 mark to be exact, when Nikita Kucherov scored a power-play goal.

But even this goal allowed, another blah strike against, that ruined CZAR IGOR’s chances at his first shutout of the season, didn’t come without controversy – as a questionable penalty assessed to Braden Schneider (more in the GAME REVIEW) was the only reason why the home team had a man-advantage in the first place.

The Bolts, now with some momentum, had their new-found fire quickly put out – as just 51-seconds later – C. JAMES K., following a perfect pass from Trocheck, regained the two-goal lead for the Blueshirts – and the end result of a successful two-vs-one odd-man rush.

Come the third period, the Rangers, with their 3-1 lead, were twenty-minutes away from partying on the plane.

They never relented and when we were reminded that the other team is paid to play too – there was CZAR IGOR to add to his save totals – and where he ultimately finished with 34 of them after 35 shots faced.

As the Rangers took a conservative approach, as they didn’t want to take any chances with their two-goal lead – BOOM – there was Artie Panarin scoring his second goal of the game at the 11:16 mark.

And similar to other scores off of “The Breadstick” – this was another goal that only an elite NHL goal scorer could put home.

Jon Cooper, the longest-tenured bench boss in the league, and now down 4-1, pulled his future Hall of Fame goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy, just a few seconds past eight-minutes remaining.

If there was anything “concerning,” and I’m using that word liberally – then it was the fact that the Rangers, despite the Bolts’ net empty for over three-minutes – could never find the SEE YA, GAME OVER, goal.

Following some scrums and late shenanigans, the Rangers received a 4 x 3 power-play just under the FOXWOODS FINAL FIVE mark.

Empty net goals?

No matter.

Instead, Panarin boosted the stats of the best power-play in the league with his third of the game, and his 23rd of the season too, on a shot that Vasilevskiy probably should have stopped.

The Rangers, and where tonight’s victor was never truly in doubt, skated out the final 4:34 of the game without a care in the world – and where heck – they even challenged Vasilevskiy a few more times too.

A better post-game show than the one that the M$GN presented tonight?

A live look at the team’s flight home – where I’m sure that LAVY’s LOT, in anticipation of the New Year, CZAR IGOR’s birthday, Panarin’s hat trick and don’t forget – the team-wide effort too – was extremely lively and enthusiastic!

And this too – <hic> – and let’s get a move on!

Up first, the pregame news and notes. After that, everything else, including the SAM ROSEN DRINKING GAME and tonight’s GAME REVIEW.

It seems like the word “reset” is the required word whenever speaking about Filip Chytil these days.

Following their one-goal loss to the Florida Panthers on Friday night, come Saturday afternoon and now in Tampa, Peter Laviolette held his mandatory pregame “LAVY’S LOUNGE.”

As usual, not much came from this outside of the bench boss confirming Larry Brooks’ report on Filip Chytil, and where just like the Hall of Fame scribe – the future Hall of Fame head coach also used the word “reset” when talking about the Czech.

And just like Brooks’ report, Lavy also suggested that Chytil was not shut down for the season and they are hoping for his return.

But we’ll see how that goes.

As far as anything else considered somewhat “newsworthy,” Laviolette also said that Kaapo Kakko is skating on his own, but has yet to rejoin the team.

But we already knew that.

For the sake of posterity, here’s the video:

Here was Laviolette’s line-up for the thirty-fifth 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: Quick

HEALTHY SCRATCHES: Jones and Edstrom



The following graphics and information come from ESPN.com:





21 5 16 .762 16 0 0 0 0 57:58 0


35 1 34 .971 29 5 0 0 0 60:00 0

After listening to Sam Rosen pom-pom for the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers this past week, I had to entertain myself, as I couldn’t sit through another game of his never-ending rooting for the other team bullshit, coupled in with his never-ending jinxes, ju ju, reverse curses, hexes and black magic.

At 6:30PM, I tuned into the M$GN, where sadly, there was Sieve Vagistat dressed up to the nines, or in his case – his Ron Burgundy Halloween suit from “Anchorman.”

Since Brian Boyle wasn’t there, and with Henrik Lundqvist off celebrating the holidays in Sweden, come 6:30:01PM, I returned my clicker back to the NHL Network.

As I was watching the NHL Network preview the night’s slate and with several days off ahead, I posted the following on my social media channels:

Since many people I know have off the next two days (recovery time), then please join me tonight in the return of “THE SAM ROSEN DRINKING GAME!”

Health Advisory : For seasoned boozers and iron livers only.

Take a shot or a hearty chug whenever Rosen says or does the following:

— Prefaces a sentence with “OH JOE.”

— Talks about a Tampa player struggling.

— Randomly talks about Stamkos or Kucherov when they are not involved in a play.

— Calls a shot off of the post as a goal or save.

— Calls a goal as a save (two shots).

— Says “Pardon me Joe” or “GOOD PACE JOE!”

— Whenever he actively jinxes the Rangers such as “Player X hasn’t scored in 383843884 games Joe!”

— Brings up the 2015 and/or the 2022 ECF.

— Trails off mid-sentence.

And feel free to add your own “Rosenisms” too!

Happy New Year!

The response to my silly little game that I received was overwhelming – and where many readers joined me in imbibing throughout tonight’s match- and as if we needed an excuse to crack open the beers and pour shots of whisky in the first place!

Many readers also added suggestions (and excellent “amendments” too), such as take a drink whenever Sam confuses Trocheck for Panarin, whenever Sam names an opposing player as the KIA CARD player of the game, whenever Sam brings up a former Ranger and you get the gist.

While currently, I’m experiencing “double vision,” and just like Rosen’s old partner John Davidson once did (Fun Fact: The Foreigner song is named in JD’s honor) – admittedly, and largely due to the Rangers’ effort tonight – this game wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

After all, I’m still able to type – and thankfully – I’m not having my stomach pumped right now either!

Seriously, once you weathered the initial storm, where Rosen hit six of the items on the list above seemingly within the first seven-minutes – our affable announcer then slowed his roll a bit – but again – largely due to what the Rangers were doing on the ice.

During the GAME REVIEW, I’ll bring up each shot and drink that yours truly, and many others as well, downed while having fun on the eve of New Year’s Eve.

As far as Sam and Joe’s opening face-time went, the tuft of hair on Micheletti’s forehead wished us a “Happy New Year.”

After that, Micheletti told us that both Panarin and Kucherov were “fabulous passers of the puck.”

As opposed to what else? Passers of the gas?

Sam just nodded along and did that huge goofy grin whenever he’s feeling frisky.

Finally – GAME REVIEW time – where as a bonus – feel free to play along and reread this blog again whenever you need a Rangers’ themed drinking game!

(Or just take a shot whenever I comma-whore myself to death or use my abundance of dashes!)

You can check the archives of this site for more since I have already tackled this topic in long-form, but with all due respect to the others in-between #11 and “THE GREAT EIGHT” – I truly feel like Jacob Trouba is the best captain that the Rangers have had since “The Messiah.” Photo Credit: NYR


As Barclay Goodrow and his linemates were circling center ice, Sam and Joe immediately went into a spiel about how great Brayden Point was and how much they wanted to have intercourse with him.

So prior to puck drop, we already had taken a shot.

And yep – following last night’s loss – Lavy, rather than starting the second line, the Mika line – he went right back to his fourth-line BLUE COLLAR heroes.

After Goodrow & Company’s first twirl, come the 53-second mark, Andrei Vasilevskiy (AV for the rest of this GAME REVIEW – and not to be confused with Alain Vigneault), made his first save of an unsweetened sixteen, when he stopped Blake Wheeler.

Thirty-seconds later – and this happened a lot throughout the course of the game – Tampa went wide while nearing CZAR IGOR’s crease.

Following the missed shot, Sam started going on-and-on about Steven Stamkos and how he wanted to spend a night in a seedy motel room with him. This was our second shot/drink of the night.

However, before Sam could wipe the saliva from his mouth – ENTER BREADMAN:

1-0, GOOD GUYS – and better than that – Panarin forced Sam to end his Stammer soliloquy!

Dare I say it?

Eff it, I’ve been drinking, so here we go:


And I say that as Day One STROMERSEXUAL!

Here’s the proof:

Yours truly, perhaps with as many adult beverages in me as I have inside of me tonight, with Ryan Strome. Whatever Strome does next in his career, he’ll always be one of those “Once a Ranger, Always a Ranger” types in my eyes. Photo Credit: Dancin’ Larry – and for the idiots (mainly millennials) who bury him – you guys & gals are dead-wrong. You won’t find a more positive fan – and friend – than D.L.! Hope to see you at the Mollie Wee soon – and hopefully whenever ticket prices drop!

On this goal, and in what’s becoming the norm, here we have NONNA TROCHECK’S BAMBINO leading a Rangers’ two-vs-one odd-man rush for the no-doubt-about-it goal.

And following a mini-slump (at least for him), where Panarin went without a goal for six-games – and say it with me – “H-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e’s BACK!”

Furthermore, this goal was also a PURE FIRST LINE GOAL, as Lafreniere picked up the secondary assist, but, and this isn’t to discredit him – it’s just to say what it was – this goal was all about Trocheck.

Down to 16:40 remaining, K’ANDRE THE GIANT fired a shot at AV, but the Big Cat swatted the rubber away.

As a response, Rosen brought up how Tyler Motte was a former two-time Ranger – which meant that we had to take a shot for each brief stint.

And if you’re keeping count, and if you count the customary goal shot too – then we were now up to five shots/drinks – and we hadn’t even hit the five-minute mark.

We took shot #6 when for no reason whatsoever, Rosen brought up that Calvin de Haan was a former Islander.

To quote the worthless birdbrain Mollie Walker (and Dave Maloney went off on her tonight too – more below if I remember to write it!) – “WHO GIVES A SHIT?”‘

With 15:15 remaining, and in another example of everyone on this team doing what they could for CZAR IGOR; Ryan Lindgren, the IRON MAN, the heart-and-soul player of this club, blocked a Kucherov-to-Point one-timer.

A minute later, CZAR IGOR stopped a Victor Hedman howitzer.

In a response, Sam started raving about Tampa bench boss, Jon Cooper. This led to chug #7.

Shots #8 and #9 ensued immediately thereafter, as for whatever reason, Rosen had to remind us that the Lightning beat the Rangers in both the 2015 and 2022 Eastern Conference Finals. Why this was pertinent to bring up at this moment? Ask the senile old coot yourself!

Out of a TV timeout and now returned to the ice – here’s Panarin setting up the Rangers’ second goal – even if he didn’t get an assist (but he should have!):

2-0, GOOD GUYS, and with 12:24 remaining.

On this play, Panarin, who has been more physical this season, and where you see his snarl-and-gnarl a lot, fought, and I mean fought, to get the puck into the Bolts’ zone.

Panarin set-up Lafreniere, where all the first-overall pick had to do was put the puck into a net that was as empty and vast as a soccer net. Somehow, and we talked all about this last night, so there’s no need to get into all of this again (https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/122923/ ) – Lafreniere missed the net and hit AV’s leg – a break for the goalie.

Fortunately, Trocheck stuck with the play, while perhaps anticipating Lafreniere’s lack of finishing on these types of plays too – and BOOM – the two-goal lead.

Since Trouba touched the puck right after Lafreniere’s miss – Panarin didn’t get an assist here – but Lafreniere did.

That’s why the EYE TEST trumps all – but to be clear – I was happy to see Trouba get a point, just as a reward for all of the other hard work that he does.

Plus – I’m just ecstatic to see the Rangers score – and no matter who gets credited!

Following the goal, Sam and Joe brought up how this new GOAL A GAME LINE (my line, not theirs) and how this line would have never come to be if Chytil didn’t get concussed for the tenth time.

Sometimes, the best things in life are “happy mistakes” – and with all respect and empathy for what the Czech is going through.

Up next, CZAR IGOR made a stop on Hagel with 10:42 remaining – and then two more while partially screened. The birthday boy was in the zone!

Out of a TV timeout, Sam confused Cuylle for Gustafsson, since he just looks at jersey numbers (50 vs 56). As a result, and with the Trocheck goal included too – we were now up to shot #11.

At the same time (8:22 remaining), Sam and Joe were rambling on about nothing, such as the Bud Light sponsored “GLASS PASS UP YOU ASS” and how a “lucky viewer” would be receiving free Giants’ tickets for their home finale – and where BIG BLUE will most likely get spanked to kingdom come by the Eagles.

Since our announcers weren’t paying attention, they missed that Cuylle and Hayden Fleury were boxed for holding penalties. This then set-up two-minutes of foreplay.

As the Blueshirts put their foursome on the ice, Sam confused Trocheck and Panarin. Gulp, this was our 12th shot.

The Rangers, and just like they did for the majority of the game, dominated these two-minutes.

Once back to full-strength, and with 5:05 to go – we had our first controversial call of the game – a goal seemingly for Eyssimont.

To me, this was a 50/50 sort of thing, as after all – we don’t know what goalie interference is anymore.

But in this case, the Rangers were on the right end of the see-saw:

Again, since this was a 50/50 type of a thing – Lavy didn’t have to challenge this – and especially with the Rangers’ track record with these video review replays.

That said – I was elated when Lavy did challenge this goal – as it just showed me that he was supporting his goaltender.

Plus – it was CZAR IGOR’s birthday after all – and this was perhaps Lavy’s gift to #31!

End result?

NO GOAL – but our second controversy too – as DESPITE NOT ONE OFFICIAL HAVING THEIR HAND RAISED AT THE TIME – following the no goal call – Zibanejad was boxed for hooking Jeannot.

Even when the Rangers rarely win one of these reviews – they get screwed too.

Long-story short – no matter what the review was going to be – Tampa was going on the power-play – even though no such call was signaled on the ice at the time.

Don’t you love when that happens?

These two-minutes, penalty kill time, was all about THE CAPPY! (Ralph Cifaretto voice.)

Trouba blocked three shots during this – including one block, where like a 1920s carnival man who stops cannonballs with his belly – stepped right into a Stammer one-timer.

For good measure, he also picked up one hit and two clears (I know this isn’t a tracked stat but it’s every bit as important) too.

No joke?

This was the best individual effort (from a skater) during a Rangers’ PK this season. I was blown away!

As we approached the end of the period, CZAR IGOR stopped Cirelli and Cernak, while Goodrow came this-close from scoring a rebound goal after a save made on Pitlick.

To conclude these twenty-minutes, Panarin backchecked and forced a turnover, but on Tampa’s next possession, and with triple zeroes about to flash – CZAR IGOR stopped Cirelli one more time.

2-0, GOOD GUYS – and one hell of a start for the Blueshirts.

Here’s what I said at the time:

As an esteemed “Rangers’ Historian” (Stan Fischler has bestowed this worthy title upon me and of course I’m going to promote myself in this manner – and with my silly drinking problem aside!) – I hope that Kreider breaks Rod Gilbert’s record with his 407th goal one day. I love past history – but I love seeing positive history being made too! Photo Credit: NYR


I gotta give Rosen his props (and if you’re new here, and I guess I should have said this at the top, but let me say it here – I’m a fan of his. I just like having my fun with him too – but you have to admit that he can be maddening at times), as the old coot said the truth:


After Goodrow won another draw to start the period, Trouba forced Kucherov to the perimeter, which then forced Hedman to take a harmless shot – and an easy save for CZAR IGOR with 18:45 remaining.

A minute later, CZAR IGOR stopped Cirelli again too – and where for the first time – both the “LET’S GO RANGERS” and “IGOR, IGOR, IGOR!” chants were deafening.

On an aside – and while I envy this Tampa franchise for doing everything right and winning two Stanley Cups (I also feel bad for them – as I HATE, HATE, HATE, when a team who does everything right gets punished for it – which is what happened to them due to Bettman’s demented salary cap – but I’ve done this rant about 786786347892634235 times in the past) – it has to suck for these fans.

Here you have the Bolts, again, who only did everything right and had their powerhouse powers stripped of them by Bettman – and one of the top teams, if not the tippy-top team, of the past decade too – and yet – Ranger fans take over the Amalie Arena whenever the Blueshirts are in-town.

(Holy dashes and bad grammar Batman – but hey – you’re lucky that I’m even able to write right now – and differentiate “write” vs “right” too!)

Seriously, two Stanley Cups, multiple Presidents’ Trophies, historic winning streaks – yet – and without fail – RANGER FANS OWNED THE AMALIE.

Just sayin’!

If you’re a Tampa fan finding these words, then know – I band-wagoned for you guys during your “Ranger South” years – and especially when you beat the Islanders in back-to-back ECF’s! And if you’re a Ranger fan upset with my comments about Trouba being the best captain since Messier – then know that I was a diehard Captain Mac fan too!

Come 14:10 remaining, Mika displayed his “Selke Skills,” as twice, he broke up a Tampa attack on the same shift.

Forty-seconds later, Lafreniere turned over the puck with one of his wacky passes that needs tightening – but I guess he shouldn’t be that discouraged either – because they do connect more times than not.

Down to 12:59 remaining – A CZAR IGOR BESSIE SAVE – this time on the man who thought he had a goal earlier, Eyssimont.

Now with 11:41 left on the clock – Goodrow extended the Rangers’ zero for their last 67856785675786556565785 breakaway streak.

Really, this is one area that needs work – as while you don’t get many breakaways during the playoffs – you need to bat better than .000% when you do get these rare opportunities.

Fifteen-seconds later, and while in the o-zone – Miller was boxed for interfering with Nick Paul.

This was another “controversial” call – because while the contact was there – it was only because #79 was trying to avoid a major collision with an official.

And I’m really not blaming the zebra here – the game moves so fast – so it’s hard to be in the right place and at the right time – and during every second of a hockey match.

But the ref(s) should know this too.

In the end, this was a “no harm, no foul” type of a deal, as just 38-seconds into the Rangers’ PK, it was over – as Point high-sticked Mika (he also held him too – but high-sticking was the call).

Following the foreplay and an abbreviated Rangers’ power-play that didn’t have enough time to ever have a chance; once returned to full-strength, Motte and Sheary flubbed an odd-man rush with 7:45 remaining.

After the miss, Rosen lamented about Tampa’s injuries (Mikhail Sergachev) and Cooper’s game plan.


Shot #14.


Shot #15.

Down to 6:00 remaining, CZAR IGOR put a halt on Stammer Time.

After this – it was all Tampa for the remainder of the period – aside from the Kreider response.

The Bolts had about a 1:30 attack in the Rangers’ zone, but say it with me in the Jan Brady voice:

“IGOR, IGOR, IGOR!” – and the same chant that was also echoing around Amalie at the time.

In the most controversial call of the game, at least in my opinion and also with the benefit of hindsight being 20/20; with 3:09 to go, we had a ten-man scrum following another save-and-freeze from my favorite goalie and yours.

DESPITE ALL TEN SKATERS ON THE ICE GOING AT IT – only Schneider was penalized for “roughing” Kucherov.

You know the deal – and especially since I’ve done this rant so many times before:

Whenever you have a scrum, you either penalize no one or you call off-setting penalties on two opposing players.


But because the home team was losing 2-0, and because we’re not allowed to see a CZAR IGOR shutout this season thus far – Tampa got their bullshit power-play.

They also got their bullshit power-play goal, as Kucherov, following three rapid-saves from CZAR IGOR in succession, scored on the Bolts’ fourth shot of the power-play – and while the entire PK was sliding and trying to block the shot.

2-1, good guys – and with 2:21 remaining.

This just made me sick – because without the BS call on B.S. – then maybe CZAR IGOR gets his birthday shutout.

But alas, it’s more about the sum of the parts – the front of the jersey – and not the back of it – so this is just my own individual gripe.

The sum of such said parts?

Trocheck and Kreider, who rarely play together (this happened because of a shift-change) regained the Rangers’ two-goal lead:

3-1, GOOD GUYS – and as Trocheck had once again picked up a three-pointer – but he wasn’t done just yet!

This is how we remained at the end of the period.

Here’s what I <hic> said at the time:

Tommy Devito who? Photo Credit: NYR


This was another game, another period and another night, where come the final horn – you had your chest puffed out, your fist pumping – and you would walk through a wall if Laviolette had asked you to – and just as the Rangers did here.

The Rangers played it safe for most of this period – and where just 2:20 in – I was told by no less than twenty people that they had tapped-out on the drinking game – especially when at this moment, Rosen hit us with a “PARDON ME JOE!”

After long changing bottles following my sixteenth shot of the game (Kreider’s goal was #15 – and I have a heavy pouring hand too!), there was THE GREAT EIGHT again, who bailed out JONNY HOCKEY after a turnover – as this time – the TROO TROO TRAIN derailed a Cirelli breakaway.

Not to be outdone, Fox (remember him?) did the same, as he bailed out Zibanejad following his turnover with 16:05 to go.

With Tampa desperate and pressuring (remember – they are paid to play too), this was really the only time where the excellent Rangers’ fourth line found themselves trapped in their own zone, but Goodrow got them out of it with 15:25 remaining.

CZAR IGOR, who looked like he was channeling “COCAINE BEAR,” jumped like the hairy beast when making a save on Cernak with 14:00 to go.

As we approached 10:00 remaining, the Rangers continued their course, as CZAR IGOR stopped Hedman, Gustafsson blocked Point and all systems were firing in-sync.

Down to 9:06 to go, Jeannot tried to engage Trouba – but in a two-goal game – the captain wasn’t falling for such antics.

And then, and with 8:44 to go – Panarin allowed fans to take a deep breath – as he put the team up by three goals:


No joke, no matter how much we dedicate our time to our own professions (or hobbies – like this site!) – we’ll never be as good as Panarin was here when scoring this goal!

And let’s give a round of applause for the now established new #16 in-town – as Trocheck picked up his first four-point game as a Ranger with this assist.

Again – I was a huge Strome fan – but it’s safe to say now that Panarin has found his chemistry with his new center – and yeah – playing with Panarin does help Trocheck’s offensive numbers too!

Panarin, while on the bench after this strike, had a smile so big on his face (HOW BIG WAS IT?) – that you couldn’t remove it even if you had ten EMT’s using the jaws of life on him.

And this too, and I’ll get on my hands-and-knees while writing this:


Down to 7:57 remaining, Cooper said “Father Fink It, who cares if we lose by three or four goals” and then pulled AV.

And as said about a million times before in this space – I don’t mind this strategy – as you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

(I know that sentence is phrased incorrectly, but you know what I mean!)

As for whatever reason, Wheeler refused to shoot at an empty net – Paul then hit Igor’s post.


Come 6:13 remaining, we had another scrum – and where in a miracle – THE REFS GOT IT RIGHT – as both Trouba and Cirelli took off-setting roughing penalties.

I’m left to deduct that Schneider banged one of the ref’s wives – as only he was singled-out by these bozos on ice.

Now with another foreplay in-play – Goodrow almost had the GAME OVER EMPTY NETTER – but Hedman stunted his former two-time Cup winning teammate.

As we hit 4:56 remaining, the Bolts empty net attack concluded, as Stammer had hooked Fox.

In turn, we then had a 4 x 3 Rangers’ power-play – and Panarin’s hat-trick just 22-seconds into the man advantage:

5-1, GOOD GUYS, following HARTemi Panarin’s hat-trick goal – and his 23rd strike of the season.

Who knows – Panarin, who is already a Hart Trophy candidate – may win the Art Ross Trophy too.

But of course, right after the 5-1, GOOD NIGHT THE LIGHTS GOAL, Rosen then named Stamkos as our KIA CARD player of the game.


Shot #17 – and that’s when strictly adhering to the rules of the almighty SAM ROSEN DRINKING GAME!

(I could’ve hit thirty whisky shots if I wanted to play this game as liberal as possible!)

As Cuylle and Brodzinski almost scored with 1:05 remaining, I had to crack up – as that effing moron, Sieve Vagistat, was giving his eulogy on the Rangers’ 2023-24 campaign just 24-hours ago.

5-1, GOOD GUYS, final.

Maybe it’s the seventeen shots consumed (and let’s face it – I was also drinking in-between) – but this was a win that would make you shed a tear of joy!

As far as anything else, following the win, Micheletti named Trouba (3), Trocheck (2) and Panarin (1) as his three stars of the game.

I got to give it up for JUMPIN’ JOE – because outside of adding CZAR IGOR – I thought he got it right – and unlike the idiot Ranger beat reporters – I was all for Micheletti giving Trouba a star for his massive defensive BEAST MODE game.

Speaking of Mr. Micheletti (who really is one of the nicest guys that you’ll ever meet), I shed another tear – a tear of laughter – when watching this video:

While that’s how Micheletti summed-up the win, here’s how Laviolette assessed it:

One last closing remark:

During the radio broadcast, former Rangers’ captain and M$GN correspondent, Dave Maloney, absolutely blasted that ignorant birdbrain, Mollie Walker, and the man she’s dumbing down too, Newsday’s Colin Stephenson, for making the Gallant benching of Lafreniere last year at this time the focus of their stories.

Maloney said the obvious (and this is me paraphrasing him – and not what he said verbatim):


The New York Post should be ashamed to have this birdbrain twit on their beat.


Stephenson is just a black-and-white reporter, where he never breaks a story, never gives life to these games and where really – anyone could do his job by just reporting what they saw in the box score.

And do you think that these two are creative enough to come up with the SAM ROSEN DRINKING GAME – and then take more shots than Al Pacino at the end of “Scarface” – and still be able to write the longest review/recap of this game than you’ll find anywhere else?

There’s a reason why my buddy Eddie S. calls me a “legend” – and with such a status – and with $5 in pocket – I can buy a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast bagel!

Miller’s reaction when hearing that two beat reporters were asking about Gallant’s decisions from last year when the Rangers just won a 5-1 game against a formidable foe. Photo Credit: NYR

Up Next: Happy New Year.

I’m taking off the next two days! (And drinking a lot of Pedialyte too!)

The Blueshirts return on 1/2, when they host the Hurricanes – and on my mom’s birthday to boot!

Hi mom!

And goodbye to everyone else!

After all, I haven’t even broken the seal yet!

And don’t drink and drive tomorrow either, ya knuckleheads!

Last, but not least, why not start off 2024 on a high note – by reading the best books on the Rangers on the market today, which brings us to…

PLUGS TIME! (Buy a book and support my Rangers’ induced therapy bills. After all, I don’t run ads on this site!)

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/

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

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:

Order “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden” Book Today

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/FLA 12/29 Review: Jonathan Quick’s Heroics in Net Not Enough in (The-Still-In-First-Place) Rangers’ Uncharacteristic One-Goal Loss; Alexis “Zack Morris” Lafreniere Murphy’s Law Night, Bad News for Chytil; Going Back Home to Czechia, Pitlick Benched, The NHL’s Banned “C-Word,” Rangers Recall Edstrom, “LAVY LOUNGES,” A Disgraceful & Sickening M$GN Broadcast; Vagistat Debunked & More

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

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

Now on sale!

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.


Sean McCaffrey


@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine

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2 thoughts on “NYR/TBL 12/30 Review: Happy New Year! BEST IN THE WORLD BLUESHIRTS Close 2023 with a Five-Goal Bang; Panarin Bakes a Hat Trick for CZAR IGOR’s Birthday, Rangers’ Roster Review/Referendum, Refs Ruin Shutout, Nonna Trocheck’s Bambino Four-Point Night; GAG Line 2.0?, Trouba Goes BEAST Mode, Sam Rosen Drinking Game, Historic Streaks & More

  1. Great report, Sean, including the rite of drinking a shot every time a Rosen-ism happened. Putting that together with your ability to write right gave you a write-right-rite hat trick for the NYR final game of 2023. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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