NYR/MTL 1/6 Review: Sam “Dikembe Mutombo” Montembeault Channels Every Canadiens’ Goaltending Legend in Franchise History; Blueshirts Get “GOALIED” in a Wild & Entertaining Loss, Alarming Trends, A “Stolen Point,” Alexis “Julien Gauthier” Lafreniere’s Woes with Finishing Continue; GAG LINE 2.0 Scores Again, The Persona Non Grata Jim Ramsay, Will “Brennan Othmann Who?” Cuylle Shines, Lavy Set To Make NHL History, Rangers’ Alum Brendan Smith Top Talk of the NHL, M$GN & More

On Saturday night in the arena formerly known as “Lundqvist’s House of Horrors,” the Montreal Canadiens, led by goaltender Sam Montembeault (46 saves – and three big ones in the skills’ competition/shootout too), knocked off the best in the world Blueshirts by a final score of 4-3. If one thing is becoming apparent these days, and due to the Rangers’ status in the standings, then it’s this: Every team in the league, and no matter where they rank, are bringing their “A-Game” whenever “LAVY’S LOT” is on their docket. And that’s not a bad thing, as even despite this loss – it should only toughen and test the Rangers’ mettle as they gear up for the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. As Maximus asked in the 2000 film “Gladiator,” “Are you not entertained?”

While of course, and as is always the case whenever the Rangers lose a game, there’s currently a sect of fans crying, bemoaning and pontificating all of their negative team-wide referendums for every player on the club.

As you know, to these folk – the Rangers MUST go 82-0 – and anything less is unsatisfactory.

And yep – come Monday night – and should the Blueshirts beat the best in the West, the Vancouver Canucks – then these same fans that are selling “GLOOM AND DOOM” today, will all have their chests, dicks and tits puffed out – while also arranging a parade route for sometime mid-June.

My take following this wild-and-wacky 4-3 shootout loss from Saturday night?

The usual opinion – and the one that I share with you every night on this site – and no matter if the Rangers win-or-lose – you know, my season-long daily disclaimer, a mantra that reads as such:


Two “Ranger Killers” from my most recent book, “The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History,”  (and which you can purchase directly through me or on Amazon.com), reared in their ugly heads tonight – a back-up goalie having the game of his life against the Blueshirts and the Bell Centre!

I know what the majority of the Blueshirts’ consensus is saying right now – “once again, the Rangers lost to another crappy team.”

And I understand all of that.

I truly do.

But I think what these people are forgetting, aside from both my season-long daily disclaimer and how other teams are preparing for the best in the world Blueshirts, are these following items:

— The Rangers are still without one-third of their top-six, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko.

And while personally, I believe that the Blueshirts are better off without them – it’s the issue about the over $7M in missing salary-cap hits still not yet being addressed – and issues that WILL be addressed by the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline.

(Food for thought: On Saturday, Ottawa announced that they are interested in selling-off every veteran with an expiring contract at the deadline. Hello again, Vladimir Tarasenko?)

— The Blueshirts are also without Tyler Pitlick, who very quickly, and along with Jimmy Vesey and Barclay Goodrow, have become one of the most formidable fourth-lines in franchise history.

While Brennan Othmann is a fun story for now, is he the best “win-now” player option available?

Furthermore, is his skill set best suited for a checking and defensively-minded line?

— Montreal, and for years, has always been historically a tough city for the Rangers to win in.

Whether it’s the night-life (where in the Montreal strip clubs, coins, both loonies and toonies, are “hailed” – and as opposed to dollars “raining” in their American counterparts) or something else – it’s never been a walk in the park for the Blueshirts in the Land of Poutine.

— Alexis Lafreniere can’t finish.

Despite playing well, his best hockey of his career to boot, it’s that one key thing that still plagues him – and perhaps the most important thing too – he can rarely capitalize on his 8976786796896 opportunities a game – and when it comes to French-Canadian hockey players – he’s starting to remind me more of Julien Gauthier than Guy Lafleur!

After all, take a look at this:

Photo Credit: NHL
Photo Credit: NHL

Making matters worse when you compare and contrast these two graphics?

Gauthier plays bottom-six minutes with the Islanders, while Lafreniere plays on the Rangers’ top line – and averages 17:03 per-game.

The former Ranger-turned-Islander?

An exact 7:03 less, as the other French-Canadian with finishing issues (and that’s why the Rangers traded him in the first place) averages a clean 10:00 per-game.

To add to insult?

Gauthier is playing with the likes of Simon Holmstrom and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

Lafreniere is playing with two of the biggest point-getters in the league, Panarin and Trocheck.

Just sayin’ – and yes – I do expect Lafreniere to eventually figure it all out (or at least I’m hoping so!) – but in the interim, I do think this Gauthier comparable is worth bringing up.

That all said, and in the effort of both fairness and honesty – tonight’s loss isn’t 100% on Lafreniere.

However, had he been able to finish tonight on at least just one of his numerous chances – then tonight’s headline, and tone, would have been different. (Duh!)

Yet, and despite all of these things that didn’t favor the Rangers in this particular match – they still were able to erase a three-goal deficit tonight – and it took Sam Montembeault having the game of his life in order to knock down the Blueshirts a peg.

And oh yeah, the following:

The Rangers didn’t leave Montreal empty-handed either – as they added another point to their names in the standings.

As noted last blog – perhaps my glass-half full mentality has never left me!

(But just wait until the playoffs – as then, and only then, will we put this line of thinking to test!)

I don’t think that Lafreniere has a future in the adult film business, should he so desire one, because he just can’t finish. For more on this issue, then check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/122923/

Whether the Rangers were bogged down and feeling gassy after devouring a bevy of Montreal’s famous hot dogs – I do not know.

What I do know, is that once again, and this is becoming habitual, is that the Rangers, following another slow start, revved it up once the first intermission concluded.

And to be fair, following twenty-minutes of play, only a Brendan “OH JOE, I AM SO HAPPY FOR HIM JOE” Gallagher goal was the difference between the two Original Six clubs.

Outside of Gallagher’s goal, and where if you were listening to Sam Rosen at the time, then you would have thought it was a Stanley Cup Game 7 overtime winner – the Rangers did out-shoot the Habs at a 2:1 ratio in the first period (14-7).

But as noted, this was just Montembeault’s night.

It also wasn’t Jonathan Quick’s night – although he did receive a ton of luck in the final frame – as the Canadiens had hit iron on four occasions, while also missing the net thrice on what should’ve been easy goals scored.

And then there were the final twenty-seconds of regulation – but more on that once we get to the GAME REVIEW.

Aside from another slow start – another alarming trend continued on Saturday night too.

Once again, a Rangers’ opponent scored a pair of quick goals in ninety-seconds or less, and as Sean Monahan (1:09 mark) and Joel Armia (2:39 mark) did at the start of the second stanza.

But a positive trend continued too – as the Rangers successfully responded to these quick blemishes.

Now looking to erase “the dreaded three-goal lead” – that’s exactly what happened – and if it hadn’t been for the heroics from Montembeault – then the Blueshirts would’ve cruised their way to victory too.

(And really – it’s tough to get irate about a loss when you put 49 shots on net.)

A hard-working goal for Vincent “Why Isn’t He The Rangers’ All-Star?” Trocheck put the team down 3-1 at the 10:30 mark of this middle period.

The other half of the Rangers’ dynamic duo, Artemi “I Bang Wife in May, No All-Star Game For Me” Panarin, brought the Blueshirts within one at the 14:29 mark, as he scored immediately after his center’s offensive-zone faceoff win.

For #10 and #16 – once again – they added another multi-point game to their ledgers.

Entering the third period and still trailing 3-2, an Adam Fox goal, scored at nearly the half-way mark, tied the match.

This goal, and as I’ll explain in the GAME REVIEW, was another score that provided evidence to my argument – SCREEN ASSISTS should be officially tracked – as this equalizer would have never happened without CUYLLE HAND LUKE.

Now tied – and for the final 9:30 of regulation – both teams had a strong claim for the win.

While Montembeault was stopping everything, including going a perfect fourteen of fourteen on the Habs’ three penalty kills – his teammates in front of him were missing everything – and a major break for Quick.

Between all of the thunderous DINGS that echoed throughout the cavernous arena and the black marks left on the boards from all of the wide shots too – the Canadiens, and much like the Rangers – had every right to win this game in regulation.

And when JQ32 was needed at the end of regulation?

He saved his best for last – even if it felt like there was a horseshoe up his ass!

Tied at three-all after sixty-minutes of regulation, up next was a 3 x 3 overtime that the NHL intended – just non-stop odd-man rushes – and about a billion near-misses too.

However, following these five-minutes – we remained tied – and where a shootout was needed to determine a winner.

Going into the shootout, admittedly, I wasn’t that high on the Rangers’ chances – just because of how well Montembeault had looked – and because of all of the luck that Quick had received too.

A Cole Caufield snap shot was the lone goal of the six attempts between the two teams and that was that.

4-3, bad guys, final.

I know that you can view this loss in two different ways – and from either side of the spectrum to boot.

The glass half-empty perspective is that once again, the Rangers were on the wrong end of a contest to a lowly team.

The glass half-full perspective is that the Rangers “stole a point” – because even with the night that Montembeault had – the Canadiens had Quick beat dead-to-rights at least a dozen times – and especially following the Fox goal and throughout the remainder of the game.

End of the day before getting into everything else tonight?

This was an entertaining night of hockey – but it just didn’t go the Rangers’ way.

It happens.

At this time, let’s cover all of the pregame news and notes, get into the GAME REVIEW and then close with Brendan Smith just absolutely destroying the Blackhawks on Friday night.

The Rangers’ head coach held two “LAVY’S LOUNGES” prior to Saturday night’s puck drop.

Following the Blueshirts’ 4-1 victory over the Blackhawks on Thursday night, come Friday, the team held an optional practice. Only four men participated – Jonathan Quick, Zac Jones, Brennan Othmann and Kaapo Kakko – and with the latter still wearing a non-contact jersey as he prepares for his eventual return.

After the practice and before the team’s flight to Poutine Land, Lavy spoke to the media for over ten-minutes:

Most of the interview was centered around Laviolette’s own accomplishments this season.

Heading into Saturday’s game, the Blueshirts’ bench boss (778) was only four wins shy of tying Al Albour (782) for the seventh most wins by an NHL head coach in league history.

Laviolette, who spent time in the Islander organization when Arbour was there, also lived near him during NHL off-seasons in Florida.

As you’d expect, Lavy had high praise for his deceased friend and one-time “boss.”

(Arbour was an Isles’ team advisor following his retirement from coaching – and sans his one game comeback in order to coach his 1,500th game. This story is completely covered in my “Ranger Killers” book.)

Lavy was also asked about exceeding expectations thus far with the Rangers this season, especially due to all of the injuries sustained.

Outside of praising Othmann, and the team in general, this interview was mainly about Lavy’s career and not much else.

Come Saturday morning and now in Montreal, Laviolette spoke to the media again, where this time, and with most of the Blueshirts’ beat unwilling to travel to another country for just one day, it were the Canadian scribes that led the questioning:

As usual whenever the Rangers are in the French-speaking city, most of the questions pertained to the hometown boy, Alexis Lafreniere.

And as usual, and whether it be David Quinn or Gerard Gallant before Laviolette, the Rangers’ head coach praised the first-overall pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

Aside from talking about Lafreniere’s own growth (Lavy was hesitant to talk about Lafreniere’s first three years in the league, having not been here for them), the head coach was also asked about Jonathan Quick’s comeback season.

Laviolette was more willing to talk about Quick’s past, mainly because the future Hall of Fame coach knew he could talk about a goalie’s career that’s also Hall of Fame bound.

Not asked?

Did Laviolette know why former Rangers’ trainer Jim Ramsay (now working under Jeff Gorton in Montreal) was fired by his general manager of today, Chris Drury?

But then again, how would (or could) Laviolette answer such a question – as just like Lafreniere – while Laviolette’s input led to the hiring of Ramsay’s successor (Andy Hosler) – he wasn’t part of the decision to end Ramsay’s 29-year tenure with the club.

More on Ramsay below.

Here was Laviolette’s line-up for the thirty-eighth game of this 2023-24 season:

FIRST LINE: Panarin/Trocheck/Lafreniere

SECOND LINE: Kreider/Zibanejad/Wheeler

THIRD LINE: Othmann/Bonino/Brodzinski

FOURTH LINE: Cuylle/Goodrow/Vesey

FIRST PAIR: Lindgren/Fox

SECOND PAIR: Miller/Trouba

THIRD PAIR: Gustafsson/Schneider







The following graphics and information come from ESPN.com:






49 3 46 .938 29 14 2 0 0 65:00 0


30 3 27 .900 20 6 1 0 0 65:00 0

THANK YOU BRIAN BOYLE from saving us on Saturday night from that seven-foot shithead, Sieve Vagistat! Photo Credit: NYR

What a past 24-hours it was for former Blueshirt, Brian Boyle.

On Friday, someone sent me a video of Mollie Walker’s latest New York Post podcast – and once again – the birdbrain “delivered.”

Outside of repeating that she never followed hockey until she got her gig (she has admitted this many times over – and you have to blame the NYP for hiring her – she just accepted the job offered) – you could hear the disdain in Boyle’s voice when this unqualified reporter (who has NHL year-end award voting privileges no less) didn’t know about Connor McDavid:

The state of Rangers’ reporting has never been worse – and here you have the New York Post promoting this fact.


But what wasn’t sad was come 6:30PM Saturday night, and after rolling his eyes over Mollie’s perpetual ignorance the day prior (while it is the NYP’s fault for putting her in this position – it’s not like she tries to improve herself, nor has she ever taken an interest in franchise history either), was Brian Boyle as the featured studio analyst on the M$GN!

Wherever Vagistat was – I don’t care – but I just hope that he stays there!

And yep, without the worst goalie in franchise history around, not once did we hear such junk as, “CLEAR-SIGHTED ASSHOLES, MY BLOODY GROIN, I DID THIS, I DID THAT, JOHNNY TRUST ME I ONCE PLAYED IN THE NHL, EAST-WEST PASSING, ROYAL ROAD,” nor did we hear “PLEASE HANK, ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU KNOW ME HANK” either!

What a breath of fresh air – and it was nice to have a real and accomplished NHLer in-studio too.

(Now just give me Lundqvist with Boyle – and give Vagistat the boot to Isle broadcasts!)

To open, Boyle, when speaking about the talent disparity between the two teams, said, “Don’t try to go up 4-0 in the first period. Just play your game and stick to your systems.”

And I guess that’s what kinda happened.


On Brennan Othmann, Boyle said what I have been saying this past week, as he pretty much stated that he understands the hype and excitement – but at the same time – you have to temper your expectations and just let the entire process play out.

And yep – both of us were proven correct tonight, as following this tilt – you had to look at the box score to see if Othmann had even participated in this game.

(More about him in the GAME REVIEW – but for now – he played a team-low 7:16 in his nine shifts – a far cry from his debut.)

After praising both Trocheck and Panarin, Giannone then told us how much the Canadiens suck this season, how they should fold their franchise and how they could stick a ten-foot Montreal hotdog right up their five-holes.

I should have known right there and then that this game was doomed.

In a funny spot, Giannone dismissed the whole genre of ANALytics.

And for what it’s worth, he only does this whenever the seven-foot self-serving stooge isn’t there.

Following an entertaining thirty-minute pregame show, it was then time for Sam and Joe.

While not as bad as they have recently been, once again, they were both exhausting and infuriating to listen to – and as they always are whenever the Rangers are losing.

For whatever reason, Sam was stumbling over everybody’s names tonight, and where I now wonder if it’s because he’s forced to sandwich-in a sponsor whenever talking about a player.

The amount of advertising on these broadcasts is never-ending, as outside of the 9862367434634 gambling ads, Sam had to promote “MATTRESS FIRM” too, where one spot sounded like:


This of course was followed by the “KIA CARD PLAYER OF THE GAME” (before the puck had even dropped), where on this night, was Julien Gauthier Alexis Lafreniere.

After Sam told us that “MONTREAL IS TRANSITIONING JOE!” (but no word if Vagistat was doing the same), we then found out the two players who the Ranger announcers were going to fellate on this night – Nick Suzuki and Cole “Don’t Call Me Holden” Caufield.

This then led to a three-minute oration on how much these two announcers love young kids – where if you were to just rip the audio from this clip – then you would’ve thought that you were at a N.A.M.B.L.A. convention in Thailand – or hanging out with Stalk Boy Steven.

As far as anything else, and in something that I did enjoy – I always bust into tears whenever Rosen, and with a grave, serious and concerning tone, asks Micheletti, “OH JOE, WHAT’S YOUR TACO BELL TAKE JOE?”

Joe’s response?


The Rangers’ power-play then finished 0-3 tonight.



After racing out to a red-hot 9-0-1 record (and with two shutouts to boot), Quick is now 9-2-2. Of all his games played this season (including his games in-relief of CZAR IGOR), I thought tonight was his worst. That said, he’s already more than delivered for the Rangers this season – especially during the few weeks when CZAR IGOR went down with injury. Photo Credit: NYR


As mentioned up top, this was largely a slow period, but as it progressed, the Rangers ultimately went on to out-shoot the competition to a tune of 14-7.

Here’s a question that I’d like to see a beat reporter ask (and I know that I’ve brought this up many times before):

“Peter, how do you decide what line starts a game?”

While I’m sure that his answer to such a hypothetical (yet pertinent) question would be, “I just have a feel” or “it depends on the opposition” – once again, the fourth line, the Goodrow line, didn’t start tonight.

The second line, the Zibanejad line, did.

End result?

The Rangers lost tonight – and as noted before – it feels like whenever the Goodrow line starts, then they win 95% of the time.

And feel free to do the research and prove me wrong!

Just fifteen-seconds into the game against the Mika line, Larry Brooks’ favorite player, Josh “I swear the Rangers are trading for him” Anderson, almost scored.

Kudos to Quick for making this crucial save.

As Sam rattled off every Montrealer in the line-up, while never mentioning who was on the ice for the Rangers, Montembeault made his first save of forty-six on Schneider with 17:55 remaining.

Perhaps Othmann’s fate was sealed early, as on his first shift, his entire line was caved into their own zone. But of course, this solely wasn’t the rookie’s fault either.

After Quick came up with a pair of saves in rapid-succession, the goalie made another with 15:54 remaining when he made a clean glove save on Savard.

This then led Sam into giving us a spiel about how concerned he was about Montreal’s lack of leadership and veterans.

After that? Sam then expressed his disdain about how the players were failing Habs’ coach, former Ranger, Martin St. Louis.

And I guess that I should get this out of the way too:


I wrote everything that I had to write about the Ramsay firing this summer – but the Ramsay omission on this broadcast was telling.

During two separate camera shots of the Canadiens’ bench tonight, where back-up goalie Jake Allen was featured (of course, with the Rangers losing, the top topic for Sam and Joe was the back-up goaltending in Montreal), M$GN carefully cropped out and made it their mission to make sure that Ramsay wasn’t in the frame.

I don’t know if this was a Chris Drury edict or not (and in my “conspiracy theorist” take – I think it is) – but this was most definitely noticeable – especially since Sam and Joe always talk about every member of the Rangers’ alumni, and their family trees too, during every broadcast.

Heck, whenever Scott Arniel is behind an NHL bench – how many times do Sam and Joe bring it up? A dozen times? Two dozen times?

Another case in point?

Not only was MSL brought up, but Sam did a whole ODE TO MORGAN BARRON too.

Furthermore, and no less than three times tonight – Rosen also talked about how Barron was a former Ranger.

Of course, Morgan Barron plays for the Winnipeg Jets, while his brother, Justin Barron, is the sibling that plays for the Montreal Canadiens.

It should also be mentioned that M. Barron is a forward, while J. Barron is a defenseman.

Bless Sam’s heart.

At this rate, I was also expecting Sam to say, “JOSH ANDERSON, FORMER RANGER LIAS ANDERSSON, NO RELATION JOE!”

But it was sad that I was also expecting Sam to mention who I thought was his friend, Jim Ramsay – yet he was erased from Rangers’ history tonight, ala Chris Benoit and the WWE.

Over seven-months removed from Ramsay’s unexpected firing – and not one member of the Blueshirts’ beat has the scoop – or at the very least – dares to report it. As previously reported in this space, I was told that it had more to do with Drury wanting his own people more than anything else – but I was also told that there was more to it than that – and where I don’t know what “the more to it” is. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Down to 15:10 remaining and Miller, after his own flub, corrected his course and then broke up a Montreal two-vs-one odd-man rush.

After Lindgren ate two big hits (at the time, and with 13:45 remaining, I was wondering if he was being targeted again, but as the game went on this proved not to be the case); just a minute later, the Rangers, who desperately needed something to stunt the Habs, got their reprieve, as Kaiden “NO RELATION TO WILL CUYLLE JOE” Guhle tripped Zibanejad.

As would be the case on all three Ranger power-plays tonight – they did everything but score.

In other words, you can’t criticize the man-up units – Montembeault was just in the zone.

Put it this way: Technically a third string goalie if you consider the fact that Carey Price still collects a paycheck – Montembeault made five high-quality saves during these two-minutes – and on all of the name-brand Blueshirts.

Sometimes, it just isn’t your night – but it was Montembeault’s night.

Once returned to even-strength, Quick stopped Savard, but just seven-seconds later, and with 8:23 remaining – Brendan Gallagher scored.

By the way Rosen called this goal, you would have thought that the Canadiens had just won their 25th Stanley Cup in franchise history, as this is what he said verbatim:


In what world did Rosen think that Ranger fans wanted to hear such junk?

Then again, he also thought that Morgan Barron had a few shots on goal tonight too.

This goal, and like the one that soon followed, was the end result of the Rangers being unable to clear a puck from their own zone.

And not for nothing, Montreal’s penalty kill gave them some momentum too.

Following the goal, and for no reason whatsoever, Sam and Joe brought up how all three Hughes’ brothers were playing in New Jersey tonight.

(And of course – this wasn’t true either – as Jack Hughes was injured on Friday night against the Blackhawks and didn’t play on Saturday night in the Devils’ 6-4 loss to the ‘Nucks. But not that Sam would care about such a thing!)

Outside of Sam’s hard-on for Jack Hughes, what this had to do with the Rangers vs Canadiens I do not know.

There’s not a soul in the world, perhaps outside of Hughes’ parents, that loves Jack Hughes as much as Sam Rosen does. We should all be so lucky in life to have someone who treasures us as much as Rosen treasures Hughes.

Cuylle, who had a monster of a game tonight, as he was constantly forechecking, hitting and luring the Habs into making mistakes, had one of his shot attempts blocked with 6:15 to go.

For good measure, he then hit Guhle with two big hits.


Outside of Panarin and Trocheck – Cuylle, and hands-down, was the third-best Ranger on the ice tonight – and with a tip of the cap to team captain, Jacob Trouba, too.

After Rosen, and for the fourth time, reminded us that Suzuki was going to the All-Star Game; with 4:00 remaining, a Lindgren shot was stopped and Lafreniere fell an inch shy of grabbing the rebound.

This play repeated throughout the game, as Montembeault gave up a shit-ton of rebounds tonight – but the Rangers could never make him pay for doing so.

And then of course there’s Lafreniere, who must be the biggest Gene Carr fan in the world.

“Was Gene Carr on Beverly Hills 90210?” – Mollie Walker.

Another example of Montembeault’s Many Rebounds is with under 2:00 remaining, a Panarin shot was stopped and Trocheck, who was arguably hooked at the time, couldn’t get there.

Then, come twenty-seconds remaining in the period, Montreal hung out behind Montembeault’s net, as they were making a shift change and just trying to get to the locker room.

Sam’s expert wisdom – and I’m not making this up either – the following:


1-0, bad guys, after twenty.

Here’s what I said at the time – and where I truly felt that the Rangers would bounce back:

Where would the Rangers be without “The Breadman” this season? Photo Credit: Aaron Davis (RIP)


After Sam wondered if Brendan Gallagher and “Gallagher’s 2000” was related or not (okay – I am making this up), we then got a shot of Lafreniere’s family who were in-attendance.

I found this odd:

Big Hugo L., father of Alexis, was pounding Coors Lights – as were the rest of his family.

Seriously, you’re in Montreal and you’re drinking that piss-water?

But to be fair, and as someone who has been to Montreal six-or-seven times in the past – the Coors Light brewed there is stronger than the swill that you get here.

But then again – Labatt Blue – or “Bleu” (or even a Molson, which they call a “Canadian” there) – blows away the silver bullets.

And after watching his son fail on about 89678686796786 scoring chances tonight?

Then the strongest of booze was required!

(And yes – I’m joking – or am I?!?!?!)

The Lafreniere family, pictured here from two years ago at M$G (and without beer in their hands) – and where I now wonder – maybe it’s time for a new number? That “unlucky thirteen” isn’t helping Lafreniere’s goal scoring totals these days! Photo Credit: NYR

After Zibanejad won the opening draw, this is when the M$GN cropped out Ramsay from the frame (first time) and where Rosen realized that he was confusing the Barron Brothers.

It was also when Sean Monahan scored at the 1:09 mark (2-0, bad guys) and when Joel Armia scored at the 2:39 mark (3-0, bad guys).

For as much as I like to stay positive and don’t get too high or low no matter the end result – something has to be done about all of these quick goals scored against the Blueshirts this season.

The Monahan goal happened after another failed clear, while Armia’s was a straight rip, when uncontested, from the slot.

No joke – I think this is the tenth time this season when the Rangers have surrendered two goals within a time-span of two-minutes or less.

Despite everything looking grim, I reminded myself of a recent trip that I took to Montreal:

How can anyone forget “The Brendan Lemieux” game, and how he helped the Rangers erase a 4-0 deficit in a 6-5 comeback win in November of 2019? For the full report (and a complete look at the city of Montreal too), then check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/112419/

Such positive thinking paid off – or at least temporarily!

Down to 14:30 remaining, and once again, and for the 9866787868796th time this season – Lafreniere went wide when three-feet away or less.

As I was screaming on social media that “SAM MONTEMBEAULT HAS A SHUTOUT,” the goalie came up with a pair of saves on Trocheck and Lafreniere.

Up next was a turning point in this game.

With 12:22 remaining, and after failing to call a penalty after Lindgren was high-sticked; instead, the refs boxed Kreider (an o-zone penalty to boot) for hooking Jesse Ylönen.

To set the scene, the Rangers, down by three, had to kill a penalty.

For the next two-minutes – Quick amassed six saves in total – and as you’d figure – this was his best work of the game too – although his final twenty-seconds was just as impactful.

Once completing the penalty kill, there was Lafreniere again – but there was Montembeault again too.

Now past the half-way mark of the game/period, Montembeault had extended his shutout by recording his 23rd save.

This was his final save before his no-no was ruined.

Down to 9:30 remaining, THE GUS BUS drove a puck from the point at the net – and there was Trocheck, channeling his inner Chris Kreider, for the sweet, sweet and did I say sweet, deflection/tip goal:

3-1, bad guys – and similar to Montreal’s first goal – I think that the Rangers’ penalty kill propelled them here.

Just as you thought that the Rangers were coming to life, as Kreider hit a post on the next shift – this second line then got caught on the ice for nearly 2:30.

Blake Wheeler looked like Blake Wheelchair during this, while an obviously gassed Mika finally cleared the puck – and got a change too.

With 6:45 remaining, Montembeault prevented Cuylle from making all of the highlight shows, as after making some fancy moves, the goaltender then stopped the forward’s backhander.

But again – this play just proved how impactful Cuylle was tonight.

At this time – my live tweets at this point in the game:


3-2, bad guys, following Panarin’s 25th goal on the season – and where he’s currently on pace to surpass the 52-goal season that Kreider had two years back.


Right after this goal?

Montreal hit a post.

After that?

Sam – and I’m not making this up either – said the following:


While I understood what Sam meant (eating clean/healthy – something I can’t provide much insight about either!), all I had were visions of Trocheck chewing and then spitting food into Cuylle’s mouth, as if he were a bird.

With 2:58 remaining, I thought that the Rangers were due tie the game, as All-Star Suzuki had high-sticked Kreider.

While this power-play wasn’t as explosive as the first, it was still pretty good (three SOG) – but the result was still the same – Mutombo wagging his finger and saying “No, no, no – no power-play goal for you.”

And oh yeah – Mika, following one of his one-timers, hit a post too.

3-2, bad guys, through forty – and where I just knew that the Rangers would tie it.

I also thought they’d win it too – oh well!

Here’s what I said at the time:

While Othmann (zero SOG) was pretty much a non-factor tonight, if not invisible – Cuylle was the complete opposite. It should be stated that these two are friends, but I think with Othmann now around, and for ever as long as it may be – it may give Cuylle some extra juice. Then again, Cuylle has been fantastic all-season in his own right and needs no extra motivation.


To start this period, where’s what I said on the Tweeter machine:

Alas, I was wrong – and I was also wrong about Lafreniere scoring tonight too – as I just thought that the law of averages would eventually play out in his favor.

Since it’s getting late, and since this game went late too, if you want the full play-by-play of this period, then check out my Twitter feed over at: https://twitter.com/NYCTheMiC

Here are the highlights:

— Both goalies continued to exchange saves – and both got some luck too with all of the posts and wide shots.

— I thought of the forwards, both Cuylle and the Habs’ Slavofsky looked best.

— Down to 11:40 remaining and still down by a goal, I thought that Cuylle should have been bumped up to the Mika line (for Wheeler). Instead, and as I was thinking this (live tweets don’t lie) – Lavy did what he usually does in these circumstances – as he double-shifted Panarin.

— With the lines now changed, both Trocheck and Panarin made back-to-back god awful turnovers – but following each of them – Montreal missed Quick’s net from close-distance.


With 10:30 to go, the rookie set up the game-tying goal:

3-3, tie game!

At the time, this went down as an ALL HARVARD GOAL, with Vesey assisting on Fox’s equalizer.

But obviously, such a thing didn’t matter, as the only thing that mattered was that the game was now tied.

After the game, the league’s statisticians gave Cuylle an assist – and where I thought that he had scored this goal in the first place!

Either way, this was another example of why SCREEN ASSISTS (a Kreider special) should be tracked, as this goal doesn’t happen without one.

On this goal, Cuylle was screening Montembeault – and blammo – a Fox Trot and bang went for a goal.

To quote Kenny Bania from Seinfeld, “Huge, Jerry, Huge!”

But after this goal?

Nothing but turtlehead touching cotton time for the Rangers.

The remainder of this period saw the Rangers do everything but score – and the same goes for Montreal – and a home team that had an abundance of more chances than the visitors.

However, and with 6:35 to go, JONNY HOCKEY, while on a breakaway, was hooked by Guhle.

Like video replay reviews, goaltender interference and kicking motions – I don’t know what constitutes a penalty shot in today’s NHL anymore either.

I thought that Brodzinski had drawn a penalty shot – but instead – it was a two-minute Ranger power-play – where let’s face it – this wasn’t the worst thing in the world either, as it’s the team’s bread and butter.

However, Montembeault was eating himself, and by the end of these two-minutes – he registered his fourteenth short-handed save of the game.

GOALIED – and as if Montembeault, at least on this night, was put together by the DNA of Georges Vezina, Jacques Plante, Gump Worsley, Patrick Roy, Carey Price and Ken Dryden.

And yep – this power-play ended when Lafreniere shot the puck wide – a free clear for the Habs.

This then led to the fourth <DING> that Quick heard.

Following the failed power-play, it was all Montreal and where you were just desperate to see this game get into overtime, thus allowing the Rangers to at least earn one point in the standings.

Both Trouba and Trocheck prevented goals with big hits, while after a Vesey turnover, Quick came up with a big save himself on Suzuki.

Then, and with 20-seconds remaining – Quick made three monstrous saves – and where had any of these shots gone in – then you would’ve felt a whole lot worse than you’re feeling now.

3-3, after 3.

Here’s what I said at the time:

I was hoping for the “Disney Finish” with a Lafreniere game-winner, but thought deep down that it would be Panarin who would do it. Neither happened – and as you already know. Photo Credit: NYR


When the NHL first installed three-vs-three overtimes two decades ago – this is exactly what they had intended.

These five-minutes were chaotic, while also at times, felt like watching a monkey hump a football.

Bottom line, this bonus period was just all-out explosive energy and with both teams having multiple chances to score the walkoff goal.

The refs also missed two penalties too – as both Panarin and Mika were tripped – but alas – no call.

What was called was a K’Andre Miller holding the stick penalty on Juraj Slafkovsky.

This was a good penalty to take, as at the time, the Slovakian was right at Quick’s net – and there were only 11.1 seconds remaining too.

In other words – all the Rangers had to do was win a faceoff and then go to the shootout.

For whatever reason, Laviolette didn’t use Trocheck to take the most important faceoff of the game, as instead, he turned to Zibanejad.

You could feel the diarrhea awaiting to be spewed from your rectum.

Zibanejad obviously lost this faceoff – but totally redeemed himself by forcing a turnover.

Now under five-seconds remaining – Montembeault came up with saves #45 and #46 – and on Mika and Trouba.

And can you imagine if this game ended with a Rangers’ walkoff short-handed goal?

A skills competition was the last resort to solve this one.

Mika Zibanejad with the man who shall not be named. Photo Credit: M$GN (and from years ago!)


As noted up top – I didn’t like the Rangers chances here – just because Montembeault was on fire and because I thought that Quick had used up all of his luck.

In the first inning, Quick stopped Suzuki while Montembeaut stopped a Panarin backhanded attempt.

In the second inning, Caufield made it look too easy when beating Quick. Zibanejad, looking to respond, seemingly had done so, but at the last second, and with the puck about to dribble past the goal line – Montembeault made a desperation stick save – and prevented this shootout from becoming 1-1.

Now needing a save at the top of the third to extend the evening, Quick did get one last break when Ylönen hit the post.

Laviolette, with the game on the line, turned to Lafreniere.

Listen, I completely understand why Lavy went with Lafreniere, rather than going with someone who was obviously better tonight, like a Trocheck or Cuylle. I truly do. Lavy wanted to spark Lafreniere – and was hoping for a big moment in his hometown in front of his family.

But me?

Since Lafreniere is obviously slumping when it comes to finishing/scoring goals – then I would’ve rather seen CZAR IGOR take this shot.

Lafreniere, with a chance to be a hero – shot the puck right into Montembeault’s pads.

Heck, even Vagistat could have made this save.

4-3, bad guys, final – and while losing is never fun – this game was entertaining to watch.

Here’s Laviolette after the scintillating affair:

On to the next one.

While Smith had that one season where he was just horrendous (after signing a fat contract in the summer), I always thought that he was a good role-player for both Alain Vigneault and David Quinn. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Last but not least, I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up what former Ranger Brendan Smith did to Sam and Joe’s golden boy, Connor Bedard, on Friday night in the Devils’ 4-2 win over the Hawks:

Following this clean hit, Smith, who has always been known as an excellent teammate (except for that one time when Vinni Lettieri whooped his ass in Hartford), had to defend himself from Nick Foligno:

On Saturday morning, it was announced that Smith, a one-man wrecking crew, had derailed what’s already been a trying season for the Blackhawks.

Not only did Smith fracture Bedard’s jaw, but he also fractured Foligno’s finger.

As a result, Bedard is now on the LTIR (expected to miss 4-6 weeks), while Foligno is on the IR.

Of course, had the Hawks not been playing for another top lottery pick this season, then perhaps these two would play through these injuries – and as we saw with Derek Stepan when he fractured his jaw during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It’s also being reported that Sam and Joe will miss the next six weeks of Rangers’ hockey on the M$GN as they tend bedside to Bedard.

And yes – I am making this up!

What am I not making up?

Smith in Chicago is what Trouba is to the rest of the league.

That’s good company!

The Blueshirts have off tomorrow (or today by the time that you read this).

As a result, see ya Monday night after Rangers/Canucks.

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/CHI 1/4 Review: BEST IN THE WORLD BLUESHIRTS Scalp Worst in the World Blackhawks; Busy Rangers’ News Day Too, Recap of Messier & Lundqvist’s One-on-One Chat, Panarin Snubbed for All-Star Game But The Valid Explanation on Why; Vote For Trocheck, The Othmann One-Game Evaluations Are In (Outstanding!); Don’t Forget About Cuylle, Kakko Nearing Return, GAG Line 2.0, Miserable M$GN aka NBC Chicago & More

Shot In The Arm: Brennan Othmann To Make Rangers’ Debut Against Bedard’s Blackhawks; The Pros & Cons of the Call-Up & What to Expect, Lavy’s Line-Up, Pitlick Joins NYR ER, Rangerstown Podcasts; Lundqvist Interviews Messier, Blueshirts’ Beat Reporter Shake-Up & More

NYR/CAR 1/2 Review: New Year’s Hangover Creates Blueshirt Headaches; Rangers Flat as Cheap Champagne – But Not a Loss To Worry About Either, Special Teams Swing Games; “Lavy’s Lot” Swung Around A Lot, The Return of Artem Anisimov For Walking Wounded Wolf Pack; Return of Negative Trends Too, M$GN Presents “The Brent Burns Bonanza” & 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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