“You can sit here and talk about some of the good things we did and the chances we had the third period, but you’ve got to win hockey games. You’ve got to find a way to win. A guy can’t get a shot from that area with 1:30 to go. You have to have a sense of urgency.” – David Quinn, 1/24/21, minutes after the Rangers depressing 3-2 loss to the Penguins. I share this quote with you tonight, because you have to wonder if Jeff Gorton and JD will soon feel that same sense of urgency too, in regards to their head coach. (And I say this as someone who isn’t anti-DQ like other fans in this fan base!)
Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. This blog is going to be miserable to write tonight, because just when you thought the Rangers couldn’t lose in a more heartbreaking fashion this season than they did on Friday night, 48 hours later, the Rangers did just that. If you’re looking for any consistency out of this Rangers team after five games played, it’s their uncanny ability to throw two points away, like a rich person tossing away loose pocket change.
By the time this game ended, you felt like that cliche high school kid from a movie, who watches his arch-rival land the girl. Hopefully, by the time this season ends, just like how those cliche movies end, the Rangers will vanquish their foe and land the girl too. However, for right now, when it comes to winning games, the Rangers are as successful as Steve Vagistat’s broadcast career, a career that’s like Biff Tannen from the “Back to the Future” movies – sitting in a pile of horse manure.
If you discard the Rangers first two games of the season, which were both blow-outs; these last three games have all told the same story. In essence, these three losses are like those sick internet videos that you see while scrolling on social media, where a guy keeps getting kicked in the nuts repeatedly. The first time it hurts. The second time you wince even more. By the third time that foot hits the sack, you’re ready to throw up like a teenager trying Bacardi 151 for the first time.
In what’s now becoming a trend, simply put, the Rangers top stars aren’t producing. In addition, in all three of these most recent losses, a late Rangers power-play goal would’ve been a difference between a win and a loss. In crunch time, David Quinn’s fat cats are hiding as if Cujo were chasing them. (And if you don’t get the “fat cats” line, refer to my past blogs or google the name of “Emile Francis”.)
While yes, it’s still early and five games don’t make a season, there is some cause for concern, due to this being a shortened season. Most of these games, and David Quinn’s ever-rotating line-up, all seems like a trial by fire. Of course, that makes sense a bit, due to the Rangers being a young team and not having the advantage of a preseason this year. However, if the playoffs are the goal like Quinn and his fat cats have previously said, that goal is starting to seem unattainable.
On a night where we found out the two teams that will be playing in this year’s Super Bowl, the Rangers have looked very “NY Giantsy” this season, meaning that they’ve been good enough to win, but always find a way to lose. Tonight’s 3-2 loss to the Penguins was another shining example of this.
As usual after a loss, David Quinn shook up his line-up again, but at the end of the day, it was the same result – a loss where his top guys, who have not been scratched like others on this squad, didn’t produce. And I know some people may say, “well Artemi Panarin leads the team in points, with six points”, but if you throw out the one game the Rangers have won this season, Panarin has four points in four losses. While you’ll always sign up for a point-a-game player, the fact of the matter is that Panarin perhaps could be sitting on double digits right now, if he’d only get out of the habit of throwing cross-ice passes for turnovers at an alarming rate. More on this to come. (Also worth mentioning here, Panarin averaged 1.4 points a game last season.)
At this time, let’s get the PLUGS segment out of the way. After that, I’ll give you an interesting story on Alexis Lafreniere, get into the line-up and then talk about everything from tonight’s frustrating loss.
Here are my last few blogs in case you missed them:
NYR/PIT 1/22 Review: The Rangers Blow and Choke an Easy Two Points Away; Young Guns Out-Performing David Quinn’s “Fat Cat” Rangers, Chytil, PDG & Miller’s Excellent Games Stained By NYR Veterans, Johnson Experiment Needs To End ASAP, Fans On The Ledge & The Never-Ending “FIRE DQ” Crowd, Lafreniere vs Crosby, Special Teams, Shut Up Vally, The NHL’s Future TV Rights Deal & More
BCBS For 1/22: The Pierre-Luc Dubois to New York Rangers Trade Rumors Heating Up; History Between NYR, CBJ & JD and How NYR Could Land PLD, Ron Duguay’s “Up in the Blue Seats” Podcast In-Depth Recap/Review & 1977 Draft Talk, Mika Zibanejad Avoids Scare; 100% Ready To Go, Jack Johnson, Quinn vs DeAngelo, NYR/PITT Preview & Will DQ Allow Jacques Martin to “Zero Blitz” Him Out of Town?
NYR/NJD 1/19 Review: Devils Defy Odds & Upset The Rangers Despite NYR’s 50 SOG & Effective Power-Play, “Trouba The Terrible” & Trouba’s Promiscuity, Zibanejad Injured, The Painstaking Task of Watching a NYR Broadcast on MSGN, Jared Porter’s Pictures, DQ’s Line-Up, Brendan Lemieux Shines, Tony DeAngelo’s Return, NYR Goalies, Russian NYR’s, Johnson & Kreider Fan Clubs & More
NYR/NYI 1/16 Review: David Quinn’s New York Rangers Dominate The Islanders in a Team-Wide Victory; Georgiev, Panarin & Buchnevich Benefit Most From This Complete Team Effort, DQ Comments on Criticism & Line-Up Changes; DQ Comes Out Smelling Like a Rose, Tony DeAngelo Odd-Man Out, Kakko’s “Swagger”, Lindgren = OLD TIME HOCKEY, Brendan Smith’s “FABULOUS” 2021 Debut & More From a Much Needed Rangers Smackdown & Shutout Victory over NYI!
NYR vs NYI 1/14 Review: Looking At All The Not So Good, The Very Bad & The Extremely Ugly From the NYR Home Opener; Rangers Come Out Flatter than Crystal Pepsi, Rookie Watch, Horrendous Refs & Even Worse Replay Reviews, DQ & “Structure”, Isles Handle Biz, Annoying NYR Fans & Comments, Johnson Era Already Over, Complete Game Recap w/News & More. Plus: Ron Duguay’s “Up in the Blue Seats” Podcast Review.
Let me say this before starting – I know what your reaction will be to this following story. “If you’re so concerned, why publicize it?” My answer is quite simple. For starters, it’s real news, unlike some idiot pretending to be Tony DeAngelo online. (This fake TDA on Twitter is a BS story that got press, but a story I’m not going to waste my time with. However, in short, and just to explain to you what I’m talking about here, in case you haven’t heard, someone is pretending to be Tony DeAngelo’s “burner” account on Twitter, in an attempt to get DeAngelo bad press. To this troll’s credit, it worked, as all the anti-TDA websites ran with the story, despite them all knowing it was a fake and a rouse. That said, to present this story in full and to disprove all of this malarkey would be a waste of time. Hell, these blogs go on long enough already! It’s bad enough that I lost the “Watch Your Tone” podcast because of these cretins!)
In addition, when it comes to this Lafreniere story, the graphic posted above got thousands upon thousands of views, meaning this isn’t a hush-hush thing. People know about it.
Anyway, as you can tell from the photo above, some grown man named Anthony chased a teenager named Alexis Lafreniere in the streets, demanding he use his marker and have Lafreniere sign his name on a puck. Of course, what this grown man named Anthony did, was force Lafreniere, the number 1 pick of the 2020 NHL Draft, into violating the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.
If you haven’t heard by now, last week, the NHL fined the Washington Capitals $100,000. In addition, the Capitals are now forced to sit Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Samsonov, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov for four games, due to violating the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.
While I don’t want to get into this too deep, basically, the NHL fined these four players for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocol, for as silly as that protocol may be. What happened was that these four players, whom are all Russian, HAD THE AUDACITY, to hang out in a hotel room together. Of course, these players are allowed in a tiny locker room together, sit next to each other on the bench during games, hug after celebrating goals, spit on the ice while next to each other, use the same showers, and sit in a cramped bus together – but four players in one hotel suite – THAT’S A NO-NO! NYET NYET OVI!
As was evident in the NHL’s fine and the Capitals having to put these four players on their COVID-19 list, the NHL isn’t messing around. I 100% believe the fine was excessive and unwarranted. However, Gary Bettman and the league dropped the hammer (and sickle) on these four players in order to make an example out of them. Violating the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol won’t be tolerated. By going overboard here, the NHL is making a statement and discouraging & deterring anyone else from breaking the rules. I can at least understand that aspect of this story.
Let’s now go back to Lafreniere.
If you read the super-long NHL COVID-19 protocols, a text that rivals the length of these blogs on BlueCollarBlueshirts.com; one of the rules is that players can’t have contact with fans and can’t sign autographs.
According to the protocols, which also include social distancing and wearing a mask at all times in public, the protocols tell the players to avoid contact with fans. In addition, players have been told not to pose for photos or sign autographs for fans.
As you can tell, not only did this over-anxious fan force Lafreniere into breaking protocols, Lafreniere’s mask wasn’t covering his nose either – an NHL protocol no-no.
However you feel about the coronavirus are your own individual feelings and beliefs. That’s fine. I’m not here to preach or share my views on this topic right now. I’m only here to discuss the NHL protocols/rules. What can’t be disputed is that it’s in the NHL protocols for players to cover their face in public and to not meet and sign autographs for fans. This yahoo Anthony put Lafreniere in a terrible position.
Let’s face it – Lafreniere is not evil for breaking a protocol here. He’s a young kid, a young kid who is new to NYC. He doesn’t know better. What’s he supposed to tell this stalker – “eff off guy”? If Lafreniere did that, this man would’ve ran right to social media, where he would’ve buried Lafreniere for not signing for him.
This man named Anthony should be happy that Lafreniere broke protocol for him. What Anthony shouldn’t have done was shared the picture, a picture that he’s using for proof in order to sell his crap. And that’s what makes this story even worse. It’s not like this is an over-eager fan, having a chance meeting with a star and getting something signed for himself or for his kid. This story, and let me use CAPSLOCK here to emphasize my point, IS ABOUT A GROWN ASS MAN, WHO CREEPS OUTSIDE OF MADISON SQUARE GARDEN TWICE A DAY, IN ORDER TO STALK MALES WHO ARE 15-25 YEARS YOUNGER THAN HIM, IN AN ATTEMPT TO TURN A QUICK BUCK ONLINE.
Listen, Lafreniere should be here for at least the next ten years. Autograph seekers can wait. And if Lafreniere isn’t here for the next ten years, that means his autograph won’t be worth a dime anyway.
If you get anything out of this long-winded rant it’s this – let these guys live by the rules they are forced to abide by. Don’t create a situation. Don’t put these guys in hot water.
My closing statement here is this – if you’re one of these people that linger outside of MSG twice a day like a fly on shit, in your attempt to secure your 65556556785585687th autograph of Brendan Smith, can you at least wait until the pandemic is over?
With the team having a scheduled day off on Saturday, where they weren’t allowed to enjoy each other’s company in their own individual hotel rooms (they are allowed to hang out in common areas of a hotel, like a conference room) the line-up for tonight’s game was announced around noon on Sunday, seven hours prior to puck drop.
The biggest news was that FINALLY, Jack Johnson was out and Brendan Smith was in. This was a decision DQ should’ve made five games ago, but as I’ve been talking about on this site, DQ has been too loyal to his new defense coach in Jacques Martin and to a fault. At least DQ finally overrode Martin tonight. And really, this move needed to be done.
In addition, DQ announced that Colin Blackwell would be making his Rangers debut in this game, which meant that Brendan Lemieux would be a healthy scratch. Here’s a video of Quinn’s pregame press conference:
David Quinn says Brendan Smith will replace Jack Johnson in the lineup tonight:
“Jack was solid for us the first few games. I thought he struggled a little bit the other night…we have faith in all seven of our guys. Guys have to play well to stay in” pic.twitter.com/ygDrSCd17H
— Rangers Videos (@SNYRangers) January 24, 2021
I’m consistent on this site. I really don’t overreact to the line-up, because as I always say, DQ is with this team all the time and knows these guys better than I do. However, I do question this taskmaster approach from a coach who has never won anything. Similar to Tony DeAngelo after the home-opener, DQ scratched Brendan Lemieux in this game, for taking a penalty in Friday night’s game against Pittsburgh. What?
And let me make this clear – Lemieux wasn’t hurt or anything like that. He was 100% scratched because he took a penalty. It’s like Lemieux being a warrior on Tuesday night against the Devils, which was the game prior to Friday’s game with Pittsburgh, where Lemieux blocked two shots and was in agony while doing so, never happened.
I know I said all of this when DQ scratched DeAngelo, but here is DQ, trying to act as if he’s like Mike Keenan or John Tortorella. And let’s keep in mind, as I recently said, that this is the same DQ who ripped off an expletive-laced tirade (rabbit ears) which got the team a two minute bench minor penalty. This is also the same DQ that saw his team take 15 too many men on the ice penalties during their last 100 games. AND I SAY THIS AS SOMEONE IN THE “TEAM DQ” CAMP and not in the “FIRE DQ” crew! What’s fair is fair!
I’m not a coach. I’m not there. I don’t know these guys. I’m just a fan with a WordPress blog account. That said, what kind of message does this send? I get that DQ is going for “you have to be accountable in every game”, but Lemieux breaks his hole every game and because he was busted for a penalty, he sits? In my opinion, and again, I don’t know how these players truly think, I would have to think that a decision like this leaves these guys sore. You can play hard, do your best and make positive plays, but the second you take a penalty, you become a healthy scratch; as DQ acts like a strict parent sending a punished child to their room.
I also wonder if DQ creates a “walking on eggshells” environment, with a decision like this? Instead of being aggressive, which in this specific case, Brendan Lemieux needs to be in order to play his game and have success; Lemieux may now be hesitant moving forward. Is that what you want?
Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill here, but I don’t think I am. Furthermore, if you’re going to punish DeAngelo and Lemieux after penalties, how come Chris Kreider continues to get his minutes and power-play time? Kreider has taken more and worse penalties than both TDA and Lemieux. Even worse, and I say this as a fan of CK20 – outside of one fluke PPG, he hasn’t done anything in these five games, at least not offensively. (He’s been solid in his new role as a penalty killer.)
Lastly, when it comes to the line-up, CZAR IGOR got the start tonight, as he got his second start in a row. After tonight, I’d expect Alexandar Georgiev to go on Tuesday against Buffalo.
Keeping track of DQ’s always-changing line-up can be confusing, so at this time, let me share with you the complete line-up during tonight’s 3-2 loss to the Penguins:
We’re almost up to the game review/recap portion of the blog. Two more segments to go! Let’s start off with the GAMBLING segment of the blog.
Here’s what I said before the game:
Season over-under record: 2-2.
These games are more unpredictable than ever before. Under should’ve hit last game before #nyr ‘s choke job.
Assuming Lindgren doesn’t score on his own goalie again, I see this game as. 4-2 Rangers win. I’m taking the UNDER. pic.twitter.com/9v0rgluw93
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) January 24, 2021
My optimism for a Rangers win didn’t pay out. However, my UNDER prediction did. I now move to 3-2 on the season. Let’s now go to the official box score of this game, courtesy of ESPN.com.
T. Jarry G
TEAM STATS (Take note how the Rangers won nearly every pertinent stat. Then take notice of the 0-2 power-play.)
I was flying high into this game, as I won big money on the Buccaneers win over the Packers. (I hit a 1-6 box too, for you fellow degenerates out there.) Even better, since I have two TV’s in my man cave, I was able to watch the Chiefs/Bills game, rather than listening to Steve Valiquette from 6:30pm-7pm! No joke, the second the Rangers broadcast started, Vagistat went right into his charts and I went right for my mute button! Vally is just so bad this season, that I wish he’d just go home and have fun with his gerbil.
As the MSG pregame show was nearing its conclusion, I muted the football game and turned on the volume to the Rangers game, where Joe Micheletti ripped off the word “Fabulous” about six times in a minute. He never disappoints. And while on Micheletti, I thought he was FABULOUS himself tonight, as despite being in the studio rather than at the game itself, he was calling stuff away from the puck and without effort, such as too many men on the ice, broken sticks and other things of that nature. Once again, Micheletti is doing two jobs on these broadcasts, as he tucks Sam Rosen along for the ride in his proverbial kangaroo’s pouch.
After Joe finished up his ode to the word “FABULOUS”, we finally got to puck drop.
Artemi Panarin, a Hart Trophy candidate from last season and arguably the best player on this team, continued his unselfish play tonight, play that is to his own personal and team detriment, at least in my opinion. On the Rangers first possession, Panarin, rather than shooting, tried to pass a puck to Ryan Strome. Pens defenseman John Marino broke up the pass. This would go on all game, where Panarin would be wide open, and rather than shoot, he’d make a cross-ice pass for a turnover.
Someone who did get the message from DQ after his play from last game was Alexis Lafreniere, a Lafreniere who started off the game with two quick shots. YOU LOVE TO SEE IT!
As mentioned last game, Lafreniere, wanting to be unselfish and defer to his veteran linemates, passed all game long, rather than shooting. In this game, Lafreniere had a shoot-first mentality and I thought this was his best game yet. While Lafreniere is still seeking his first goal, it will come. You can see his improvement game-by-game.
That said, the message that Lafreniere received now needs to be received by Panarin. I know I’m a guy on a couch with a beer in my hand and Panarin’s hockey IQ is vastly superior than mine, but he needs to shoot the puck more often. If Panarin goes back and watches this game tape, he’ll see how he passed up the chance to shoot the puck all game. No joke, I think Panarin could’ve got a dozen or more shots off in this game, rather than making these cross-ice passes that lead to nothing. (And I get that the east-west shit works, but when you’re a sniper like Panarin, like yours truly after a night at Taco Bell, he needs to let it rip.)
After Lafreniere’s two shots on goal, 4:10 into the game, Filip Chytil drew Chad Ruhwedel for interference. The Rangers would get their first power-play of the game. Of note, it seems like the Rangers have drew more penalties than their opponents this season, except in the home opener, yet they have nothing to show for it.
The Rangers best chance during this power-play was when Strome tried to feed Zibanejad, but Zibanejad whiffed at the puck. With the power-play soon expiring, Jacob Trouba turned over the puck to Bryan Rust, a Bryan Rust who just completely dominated this two-game set, thus concluding the Rangers power-play. Not good.
As we approached ten minutes played, and as I remarked on social media at the time, the new patchwork fourth line of the Rangers looked to be the best line on the team. That’s great for them. That’s not great for the top six forwards. (And yes, I know the top six forwards play against better competition, but it’s not like guys like Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad aren’t generously paid either.)
For some reason, Sam and Joe would not stop raving about Brandon Tanev all game. Between all the interviews with the Rangers opponents this season and the announcers raving about the other team all game, it just makes you want to throw your remote through the TV.
While I’m extremely hard on the highest paid guys on the team right now, I would be remiss if I didn’t look at the other side of the coin. THE YOUNG TALENT HAVE BEEN GREAT! To me, the three best players on the Rangers tonight were K’Andre Miller, Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren, and in that order, with the disparity among these three being razor-thin.
As I said last blog and as I’ll say again, tonight’s blog headline photo should’ve been K’Andre Miller’s head on a Praying Mantis. Miller dominated all game. Lindgren, who had the gaffe on Friday night, rebounded tremendously. Adam Fox, the best rookie on the team last season, continues to laugh in the face of the idea of a “sophomore jinx”.
Speaking of Fox and his Calder worthy season from last year, how about this – remember at the start of last season, how everyone had Kaapo Kakko contending for the Calder Trophy? Instead, Kakko wasn’t even the best rookie on his own team, as both Lindgren and Fox outplayed him.
While it’s early, as in only five games played, remember how at the start of the season, everyone (including me) had CZAR IGOR and Alexis Lafreniere as favorites to win the Calder? As of this writing, it’s K’Andre Miller who is the best rookie on the team. No other rookie on the Rangers has made an impact like Miller has made so far. Miller was an absolute stud tonight, once again preventing Crosby and Malkin from scoring. It felt like that every other shift, Miller was out there and busting up the Pittsburgh offense. It just sucks we’re talking about a loss tonight, rather than talking about how Miller propelled this team to victory.
I want to be clear here – I got everything I ever wanted this off-season. I am not rooting for any player to fail. I’m not campaigning for anyone to be “FIRED INTO THE SUN” like others. However, I just call it as I see it on this site. I hope all of these guys play well and deliver. That said, I can’t sell you a line of shit and bury my head in the sand, like Sam Rosen trying to find his toupee during a windy day at the beach. If someone plays well, I say it. If someone plays bad, I say that too. In addition, I do admit to giving more leeway to the younger players, because after all, this is a rebuild and “The Letter” isn’t even three years old yet.
That said – Jacob Trouba has been horrendous. I won’t go into my “Greatest Hits” on Trouba here, but after a disastrous first season, where both Adam Fox & Tony DeAngelo outplayed Trouba for 1/8 the money and put forth eight times the production than the veteran, Trouba continues to struggle in this season.
Simply stated – Jacob Trouba couldn’t hit water, even if he was shooting pucks off of a yacht that he now can afford.
During another great shift from the Rangers fourth line, Trouba went wide on a shot from three feet away. Once getting the puck returned to his blade, Trouba fired one of his patented shots from the point, shots that never come anywhere near the net. In this instance, rather than going wide with his 100MPH blasts, this puck was blocked and the Pens took control. Something has to give.
In another example of the young guys outplaying the veterans, on the Rangers next possession, Adam Fox made an excellent pinch, thus maintaining the puck in the Pens defensive zone. Immediately after, Strome turned the puck over, killing the Rangers pressure on Tristan Jarry, a Tristan Jarry, who need I remind you, was struggling tremendously before the Rangers came to town.
As the period progressed, Jarry broke his stick and Lafreniere, who is having some bad puck luck these days, saw a puck take a bad bounce at the exact same time Lafreniere was looking to slam the loose puck home. Jarry’s horseshoe, which is buried in his Valiquette, came up big again tonight.
Defensively, the Rangers looked great, as all in all, they limited the Penguins to six shots in the first period, with Miller, Lindgren and Fox standing the tallest. Brendan Smith also looked solid here, despite what happened later on in the game.
With 3:24 left in the first period, Adam Fox blasted a puck and Blackwell deflected the puck by Jarry. Here’s the goal:
— Rangers on MSG (@RangersMSGN) January 25, 2021
1-0, GOOD GUYS. Of note, Blackwell is making $725,000 this season. Just an FYI thing here.
Also FYI: Adam Fox routinely blasts the puck from the point, where more times than not, the puck is always on net. Take notice Mr. Trouba!
To close out the period, Panarin would make another cross-ice pass to nowhere, as Blackwell’s goal remained the difference after one period of action. 1-0 after twenty minutes. The Rangers played a strong defensive game and it paid off here.
Rosen and Micheletti, true to form, rather than talking about the Rangers to start the period, started wondering when Crosby and Malkin would get going. It was like they were begging the two Penguin stars to light the Rangers up. Sickening.
In the early stages of the period, once again, Miller was making his name known, as he broke up plays from both Crosby and Malkin. Brendan Smith continued to play well, where in one stretch, he had a shot on goal, came back, made a defensive recovery and then moved the puck up ice.
In Igor’s first big test of the game, Bryan Rust would go on a breakaway, where knowing what happened during Friday night’s shoot-out, Rust went for a backhanded shot on Igor. Igor made the save. Keep this play in mind as you read along.
Near the mid-way mark of the second period, the Rangers second line had their best shift of the game. Also worth noting – there were a ton of pucks knocked over the glass tonight. It felt like anytime the Rangers took a shot at Jarry, the puck went flailing into the tarp covering the empty seats. Lots of whistles here.
I know I keep raving about him, but I do this just to show you what a King Kong and/or Godzilla Miller was on the ice tonight. (I have Godzilla & King Kong on my brain, after seeing 7867867896 commercials for this upcoming new movie during the NFL games on Sunday.) Teddy Blueger, a hero in the game 48 hours prior to this one, had a chance denied by Miller.
No question, if Miller was a UFA this year, this is the tape his agent is showing everyone in the league. To paraphrase what my new buddy Mike Silvers said, #79 is a number you can be proud of! (And really, it’s nice of Silvers, who I thought was a devout member of the Cult of Lundqvist, to give this site a second chance.)
On the next Penguins possession, we all had to take a deep breath and remember to exhale, as Ryan Lindgren checked Jared McCann right into CZAR IGOR. Fortunately, Igor was okay, but this is now two consecutive games where Lindgren is sending something into Igor! Chill my man!
With 10:49 remaining, Evan Rodrigues and Filip Chytil had a nasty collision in the Penguins d-zone. Rodrigues rushed right to the locker room, whereas Chytil was downed and needed help from Rangers trainer Jim Ramsey. From what I saw, it looked like Chytil had the wind knocked out of him, as he wasn’t expecting contact and had his head down. Chytil would try to return to the game, but after one short shift, he was finished for the remainder of the contest. As of this writing, there is no update on Chytil’s status and I’d expect we’ll know by Monday afternoon if he can play on Tuesday at Buffalo.
On the topic of Monday, I believe my buddies at “The Blueshirt Underground Show”, are returning Monday night at 7PM, with a new episode where they will then recap all of this pain. As I always say, if you like these blogs, you’ll like their show, the only Rangers podcast that is presented live & with fan interaction. You can follow their YouTube channel here: BSU YouTube
With Chytil now out of the game, David Quinn was forced to juggle his lines again, as the puppet master tried to fill the gap. This would play on later into the game, with the Rangers needing a goal, when DQ put Panarin, Mika & Lafreniere together.
After a long Penguins shift in the Rangers zone, Igor froze the puck, thus getting the tired Ranger skaters off the ice.
With 8:36 remaining in the second period, a puck took a bad bounce off of Smith and Crosby was able to get the puck to Bryan Rust on a breakaway. Knowing the backhand didn’t work on his previous breakaway, this time Rust went right at Igor with a straight and direct shot. 1-1.
On the goal, again, Rust had a monster two games against the Rangers, as the Rangers made him look like the second coming of Rocket Richard. When it comes to breakaways, I always feel these plays are a 50-50 thing for a goalie, but as far as this season goes, Igor has mostly been on the wrong end of them. (He did go 50-50 tonight though!)
While it’s easy to blame Smith here, as some fans are doing, I thought this was just one of those poor puck luck plays, where the Rangers were on the wrong end of. You couldn’t really fault the Rangers defense in this game, especially when they limited the Penguins to 19 shots. However, and quite frankly, Igor needs to be better and I think he will be.
After the Penguins scored, the PPG arena, or whatever it’s called now, started to really pump in the fake crowd noise. It worked, as the Rangers looked like they had ants in their pants.
As the Rangers looked nervous and with the Penguins looking to have the momentum, Ryan Strome got a greasy puck luck goal, with 2:43 remaining in the period:
— Rangers on MSG (@RangersMSGN) January 25, 2021
2-1, GOOD GUYS!
On the goal, Trouba flubbed another sure-fire chance at a goal, but Strome stuck with the play and was rewarded, as the puck took a rare fortunate Rangers bounce past Jarry. This was kind of like the Kreider PPG from a few games ago, as Strome didn’t give up on the play and continued to play the puck. I’m glad to see Strome get this goal, as he needed this as a confidence booster.
Here’s what I said on Twitter at the end of the period:
2-0 after 40 minutes. Clean game from #NYR, no penalties and limiting the Pens to only 15 SOG. NYR still surprisingly winning the dot battle 23-19. If this game continues as is, expect K’Andre Miller to grab all headlines. (And if the Rangers win, DQ should get credit too.)
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) January 25, 2021
One of these days, Miller will grab the top headline. It just wasn’t tonight, despite perhaps being the best player for the Rangers during these last two games. (In my opinion, he was, but as they say, opinions are like assholes, and everyone with a Twitter account has one!)
And speaking of tweets, I said this during intermission too:
Holy shit, I just muted the football game because of the commercial break and here is Vally TALKING ABOUT HIS LEGENDARY 46 GAME CAREER AGAIN!!!!!! He has to be doing it on purpose at this point, he can’t be that delusional. #NYR
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) January 25, 2021
I know Vally used to read these blogs, but I doubt he reads them anymore. However, I’m of the thinking that he has to be reading these blogs again, because there is no way all this talk about his career isn’t a rib on me! (What an egotistical thing to say on my part, but I still have a long way to go if I want to match Vally’s ego!)
“Win the period, win the game” is a common phrase in hockey. Unfortunately, it’s a phrase that these new Rangers aren’t familiar with yet.
2:26 into the period, Jared McCann, who had no goals prior to this series, picked up his second of this two-game set:
— Hockey Daily 365 (@HockeyDaily365) January 25, 2021
I rarely show opponent goals on this site, unless something crazy happened. This was crazy to me. I’ve watched this replay about 50 times now and I still don’t know how this shot went in. I can’t tell if Igor was screened, was looking for a hot chick in the empty stands or what, but Igor had no clue this shot was coming. What should’ve been a rudimentary save wound up being a game tying goal.
Of note, Igor didn’t talk to the media as of this writing, so I don’t know what his explanation was for this goal. Either way, this should’ve been save. Even worse, the Penguins only had four shots in this period, with half of them being goals.
Really, and I don’t want to harp on this goal anymore, but this goal was the equivalent of someone underhand tossing you something and saying “HEADS UP” at the last second, and you drop that item, thus looking like a dumbass.
And let me put this in CAPSLOCK, since anytime Igor gives up a goal, I get 7895667957957659 notifications on social media: UNTIL CZAR IGOR IS PAID $8.5M, TAKING UP 13% OF THE TEAM’S SALARY CAP, HAS SOMEONE SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER PLAYING BENEATH HIM AND IS STUNTING A REBUILD, you can’t compare him to Lundqvist. (Although Larry Brooks would push this narrative after the game.)
While Miller continued to play well with the game now tied, most of the Rangers started to look nervous, where they looked to have lost their mojo.
With 13:04 remaining, Cody Ceci was boxed for hooking Ryan Strome. Now in a tied game, the Rangers power-play once again had another chance to take over the game. They didn’t.
The Penguins PK came up huge here. After a save on TDA, Jarry and the Pens got a clear. On the next Rangers entry, TDA had a chance to blast a puck from “Ovechkin’s Office”, but instead made a Panarin-esque pass to Howden which resulted in nothing. Trouba, just as he did on the first power-play, turned over the puck and that was that. The Rangers blew this chance and were now 0-2 on the power-play, in a game where the Rangers committed no penalties. Again – one PPG and this is a different tone tonight.
In another chance to take over the game, Chris Kreider, who is currently playing on a big contract right now (you may have heard) pushed a puck wide while Jarry left part of the net vacated. Money players score on those types of plays.
After Kreider’s miss, Smith hit a post, the Penguins cleared the puck and then Kakko led the Rangers back into the Penguins zone. However, the Rangers, doing their best Trouba impression, kept shooting wide, making the sweat trickling to Jarry’s horseshoe filled asscrack evaporate.
With Lafreniere and Kakko standing out offensively here, Jarry kept the Rangers off the board. As we hit the FOXWOODS FINAL FIVE mark, Panarin did another cross-ice pass that went nowhere, rather than shooting the puck.
As the Rangers continued to fail, the camera zoomed in on Mika Zibanejad several times, where Mika was noticeably pissed off. I’m going to bring this up, because one, I’ve brought it up before and two, Mika was asked about this after the game – is Mika suffering from a COVID-19 “hangover”?
I don’t know what it is, but it’s obvious that Zibanejad, here in 2021, who once was the hottest player in the league prior to the pandemic pause during the 2019-2020 season, just isn’t the same guy. He’s whiffing on pucks, he’s getting beat defensively five-on-five, his accuracy is off and he isn’t bringing the same presence as he did last season. We don’t know anything about COVID-19, in regards to how people adapt after recovering – especially an athlete putting himself through the daily stressful battles of playing professional hockey. It’s one thing to sit home and crush beers after having the virus; it’s another to go through the rigors of a hockey game every 48 hours.
After the game, Mika was point-blank asked if his bout with COVID-19 is a reason for his slow start. Mika simply said “no”. Then again, if Mika truly is suffering from any sort of lingering effects from COVID-19, I doubt he’d admit as much either. I mean, what do you expect him to say – “I’m all effed up from this damn ‘rona and I blame this Chinese flu for my play that looks like poo-poo?”
In the final minutes of the game, Miller (I keep bringing him up because his great game should receive high praise) bailed out Trouba defensively again. There’s an $8M difference between those two players, for those keeping track.
With 91 seconds to go, Guentzel took an off-angle shot, where the puck may have touched Miller briefly, before dribbling past Igor. 3-2, bad guys. I felt this coming a mile away, because once again, the Rangers had every chance to win this game, but here’s another one of those fluky puck-luck plays that went against the Blueshirts. Rinse, wash, repeat.
The Rangers didn’t do much during the 90 seconds where Igor was pulled from the net. In fact, the Penguins were more aggressive here and even gave the Rangers a second chance, when a Penguin decided to fire a puck into two Ranger skaters.
In the last Rangers offensive play of the game, Panarin missed a one-timer. 3-2, your final and a loss that was much worse than Friday.
Rather than leaving Pittsburgh up 2-0 in the series and with four points in the standings, the Rangers go 0-1-1 and leave the Steel City with one loser’s point. Perhaps that’s fitting.
Until the Rangers play their next game, the following people will be slammed on social media and in the press:
- CZAR IGOR
- David Quinn
- Jack Johnson (just because)
However, if you’re really looking to finger-point at anything, look at the highest paid players on this team. Panarin, despite his team-leading point total, has been a turnover machine. Zibanejad isn’t scoring. Buchnevich gets chances and did have a two goal game in the lone Rangers win, but what has happened since? Trouba is a shit show. Kreider is proving every one of his doubters correct. Tony DeAngelo can’t get it going. Ryan Strome hasn’t clicked like last season.
The best players this season so far are K’Andre Miller, Adam Fox and Filip Chytil. There’s really not much else to add here except that the Rangers highest paid players not only need to be leaders, but need to earn their cash. I know I said this last blog, but it rings true again – success isn’t always measured in points, but for the Rangers top six (sans Lafreniere) and Trouba – something has to give offensively.
Let’s get into the leader of the Henrik Lundqvist fan club and a man who has been holding a candle light vigil for Henrik Lundqvist ever since Lundqvist was relegated to third string goalie status last season. No joke, I would bet that Brooks and Valiquette have had fist-fights in the past, regarding who gets to take Lundqvist’s loose strands of hair home with them, for their respective Lundqvist hair doll collections. (See the movie “Slackers” if you don’t get this reference!)
While the word “fear” isn’t the best one, as perhaps the best word here is “ugh”, I knew the second CZAR IGOR struggled this season, Larry Brooks and the Cult of Lundqvist would come out faster than the people who take part of the Halloween parade in NYC.
Right after the game, Larry Brooks started asking David Quinn about Henrik Lundqvist, as if Henrik Lundqvist’s absence is the reason why this team is losing games. Of course, the power-play, the top six, Brooks’ new favorite player in Jacob Trouba and the team’s inability to close out games, were all topics ignored by Mr. Brooks.
Larry’s first question to DQ tonight was this: “Do you think it’s tough for the goalies without Hank here as a safety net?” When DQ asked what the hell did Brooks mean by that, Brooks continued to serenade a goalie who was a complete mess for the last three seasons. DQ, while pressed by Brooks, said, “Now when you’re staring the job in the face, it is a different feeling.” DQ also recounted Lundqvist’s situation from last season, as it had anything to do with this game.
I know I sound like a hypocrite here, because previously on this site, I swore I wouldn’t talk about Lundqvist again on these blogs, at least not in the present tense. However, because of Brooks, who now has a huge article about Lundqvist up on the NY Post as I write these words to you now, Lundqvist’s name is back in the news.
There is nothing to be gained by questioning DQ and these goalies about Henrik Lundqvist. After all, I don’t recall Larry Brooks asking Henrik Lundqvist, Alain Vigneault or John Tortorella about Lundqvist’s losing record in the playoffs and how come Lundqvist couldn’t win a Stanley Cup like Mike Richter.
Lundqvist is gone, as he should be. Even if you’re the biggest Lundqvist fan in the world, it serves the Rangers goaltenders no good to be compared to him. To go further on this topic, look at Didi Gregorious, who once had the unenviable task of replacing a true winner and Hall of Famer in Derek Jeter. Look at Daniel Jones, now tasked to carry on the legacy of another winner and future Hall of Famer in Eli Manning. Of these three legends of NY sports, in Manning, Jeter and Lundqvist; Lundqvist was the only one of this trio to never won a championship. To pretend that Lundqvist was the Tom Brady of the Rangers is hilarious to me. To bring Lundqvist’s name up, whenever Igor or Georgiev gives up a goal, is senseless to me and does this team no good.
And let me state this too – Lundqvist’s #30 will go into the rafters of MSG one day and I do hope he makes a full recovery from his current health condition. That said, Lundqvist is in the past, where he should be. It’s time to assess CZAR IGOR (and to a lesser extent Georgiev) for what they do, and not what others once did or didn’t do.
I fully admit – Igor is off to a rough start, but this is a rebuild. Yes, the goaltending could be better. That said, the fact is for right now, the goaltending has been average for the most part, as despite Georgiev’s shut-out of the Islanders, the goaltending hasn’t stolen any games yet. However, if the top six forwards (once again, sans Lafreniere) and Trouba produced like how they’re being paid, it would be a different story right now and this team would have more than one win after five games played. (And let’s not forget that Lindgren scored on Igor on Friday, which changed that game too.)
Right now, I’m not worried about a goaltender making under a million bucks. I do think that not having a preseason is hurting Igor right now as well, as he tries to find his game in-season. I also think Georgiev has been solid so far, even with the loss to the Devils, another game where the Rangers PP came up short in.
When it comes to Brooks, this isn’t a first-time thing either. All summer long on the NYP, and on nearly every weekly episode of Ron Duguay’s “Up in the Blue Seats” podcast, Brooks finds a way to work Lundqvist’s name in whatever he writes or talks about in a conversation. Seriously, if this was 45 years ago, would Brooks be pestering Emile Francis and John Davidson about Eddie Giacomin?
And I don’t mean to come off as writing a hit piece on Brooks here, but it seems like he compares everything to Lundqvist. “SORRY YOU TWO RUSSIAN GOALIES, BUT HENRIK LUNDQVIST TILTED TO THE RIGHT WHEN HE FARTED. YOU GUYS ARE TILTING TO THE LEFT AND WILL NEVER BE MY KING!”
As Elsa from “Frozen” once sang, for Larry Brooks, the Cult of Lundqvist and for Ranger fans looking to move into the new era – “Let it go, let it go, let it gooooooooo!”
Yes, the goaltending isn’t what we’d expected just yet, but I choose to believe that the best is yet to come. If Igor is still struggling in March, then we can revisit this.
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As always here, thanks for reading and…
LET’S GO RANGERS!
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