Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. How about those third-place in the league New York Rangers?
(OF NOTE: As you all know by now, I’m currently working wacky hours (3PM-11:30PM) which in turn, means that I’m dead-tired as I write these words at 4AM. As a result, I apologize in advance for any typos or bad grammar – but should they “apeer” – then I think that you’ll know what I’m trying to say anyway!)
As I said last week – these 2023-24 New York Rangers are one of the wackiest and most unpredictable teams in franchise history.
For all of the bellyaching, griping, worrying and every other negative verb that you can come up with (and all of them are valid) when discussing “LAVY’S LOT;” at the same time, there’s this, now at the 65% mark of the regular season campaign:
There are so many different ways to decipher the league’s current standings, where perhaps above all else is that word that the NHL stresses the most – “parity.”
Due to the disgusting triple-hard salary-cap – and the invention of the “loser’s point” too – the NHL has become more of an “Any Given Sunday” league than the NFL itself.
So while the Rangers can go from looking like world-beaters one night, to a bunch of beer-leaguers the next – the same pretty much applies for the other 31-squads in the NHL.
And of course, and I don’t have to explain such simplicity to you regular guys and gals (but I do want to mention it for new readers) – since this team is operating under the “WIN NOW” mentality, and where both the head coach and general manger used these two words verbatim during bench boss #37’s introductory press conference – the stakes, the expectations and the “live-or-die” vibes have never been greater – or at least not since 1994 (and to a lesser extent, 2015 too).
But without trying to sound like a Party Pooper, a Debbie Downer, or whatever other alliterative phrase that you can conjure up – tonight’s 2-0 shutout win over the Flames was just one game – and a regular season game at that.
Of course, you know what’s coming next.
My 25-word season-long daily disclaimer – and one that reads as such:
“WHATEVER THE RANGERS DO IN THE REGULAR SEASON DOESN’T MATTER. THEY CAN ONLY BE JUDGED BY WHATEVER THEY DO IN THE 2024 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS!”
While my disclaimer will always ring true – and we’ll forget about all of these regular season wins and losses come the late weeks of April too; this was another Rangers’ win where the case of two different and conflicting things both being true.
On one hand, the Rangers are back to their pre-Thanksgiving winning ways.
Not only are they 4-0 following the NHL All-Star Game/bye week – but they are now on a five-game winning streak too.
How can you argue against success – and where as mentioned – after recently sliding in the standings after playing .500 hockey for most of the past two months – the Rangers are creeping in and inching closer-and-closer to regaining their previous status as top team in the league.
And to illustrate how wacky this team is – and despite all of their recent success – they still feel like a “one step forward, two steps back” type of a club.
While it’s true that the Rangers are back on track, or at least when it comes to the standings; on the other hand, you’re getting absolutely nothing out of your $8.5M center these days, Mika Zibanejad.
Your first-overall pick?
He may as well ask the franchise to unretire #9, a number that hangs in the rafters at M$G – and two times at that for both Andy Bathgate and Adam Graves.
However, Lafreniere shouldn’t be wearing #9 in honor of Graves and Bathgate.
Instead, he should be wearing this single-digit in homage of another former Blueshirt, a player once drafted fourth-overall in a star-studded 1971 NHL Amateur Draft – Gene Carr.
Similar to Carr – Lafreniere can’t finish to save his life.
At this rate, I’m waiting for Joe Micheletti to bust out Bill Chadwick’s favorite quote and say, “Sam, he couldn’t put the puck in the ocean off a pier!”
Aside from the struggles of both Lafreniere (who let me be clear – he’s playing great – but he just can’t finish) and Missing Mika, one key concern these days is the Rangers’ power-play – and one that’s now zero of their last seventeen tries – and scoreless during the past eight games to boot.
For a team that was pretty much known for their power-play – presently, they are now known for their bottom-six, where once again, it were the six-figure guys doing the heavy lifting for the highly-salaried FAT CATS.
But when CZAR IGOR has a game like he had tonight, and when the YOUNG BLOOD BLUESHIRTS such as Cuylle and the returning Adam Edstrom stand out – then it’s easy to gloss over the problems that are in a dire and long overdue need of rectifying.
That’s why I rather promote the positives tonight, instead of spending the majority of this manifesto nagging on the negatives.
That said, I’ll give you both sides of the story – and while I’d like to be rah-rah right now, especially with the Blueshirts in the midst of a five-game winning streak – I do believe that this win doesn’t change much – which is my way of saying that Chris Drury needs to pick up the phone and bring in some reinforcements for the playoff push and beyond.
Should we toss all of the negativity aside and just tunnel-vision ourselves on tonight’s tilt, then, and to quote John Davidson (and Sam Rosen who later paid tribute to his former partner) – “OH BABY!”
For one night, CZAR IGOR looked like he was back – but we’ll only know this for certain as time marches on.
Away from the impressive 30-save shutout – where finally, he was “GOALIE-ing” someone; what really stood out to me the most were the type of stops that he made (and when he made them) during his NYET NYET.
Put it this way: The Rangers had three power-plays tonight. CZAR IGOR made six saves during these trio of two-minute man-advantages – and where had one of these triple-six (or 666) short-handed shots had went in – then the game goes in a completely different direction.
(Conversely, when twice short-handed? He only had to come up with one save – and yes – this does speak to the wretched power-play.)
Better than all of that?
CZAR IGOR only grew better as the game went on – and as all of his late saves made during the final stages of the final frame would suggest.
For a goalie who needed a huge shot of confidence like a bodybuilder who needs steroids – CZAR IGOR got a Travis Kelce shot in the arm tonight.
But it wasn’t all about the goaltending – even if a large majority of this game was – including the other side too – as the Flames’ Jakob Markstom was pretty damn good himself.
Away from CZAR IGOR, what also caught my eye tonight was the team play.
While the Rangers seemingly went zero-for-a-million on all of their scoring chances (or I guess one-in-a-million, due to the Cuylle goal) – there wasn’t one point in this game, and unlike many others that we’ve seen this season, where you ever questioned their effort.
Between blocking shots, making crisp passes, clogging lanes and playing for each other – all of this was extremely noticeable – and appreciated.
Off the top of my head, there were about five scrums during these sixty-minutes and tons of physical play too – and where whenever the Rangers were tested – whatever five skaters that were on the ice all responded to the bell.
And that Edstrom guy?
Similar to his first game from earlier this season (the home win over the Ducks) – he was in the thick of things too – especially during one scrum when he was throwing Flamers left-and-right off of his alternate captain, Barclay Goodrow.
There was plenty of that too, 27 hits in all, and where once again, “THE TROO TROO TRAIN” laid the hardest hit of them all – and as I’ll get into during the GAME REVIEW.
While it was Trocheck who recorded the most hits tonight (5), it felt like Edstrom, who tied for the second-most amount of hits with Trouba and Vesey, had the more timely hits – as his hits either extended the Rangers’ attack or doused the Flames’ attack.
And hell – even good old Artie Panarin, the soon-to-be two-time father – was taking no shit from anyone either – and as his second period melee with Martin Pospisal would suggest.
And when the highest-paid winger in the league is getting his hands dirty – it speaks volumes.
There’s so much to say and so little time, and while I know that I will hit the 10,000 word-count tonight – and that only two-hours of sleep will follow – I hope that I’m not short-changing you of anything from these exasperating, yet exciting, sixty-minutes of puck.
That’s how good this win felt – where as you may know by now – my favorite brand of hockey is the “GOALTENDING DUEL.”
In other words, give me a 1-0 game like tonight (Vesey scored an empty-netter with 2o-ticks remaining) over an explosive 6-5, 7-6, you get the point, type of a game.
In a word, both Markstrom and CZAR IGOR were FANTASTIC – and where yeah – this is much easier to say since the Rangers won. (At least I don’t lie to you!)
At this time, let’s dive into all of the pregame news & notes and then get into tonight’s GAME REVIEW.
After nearly blowing a two-goal lead and losing in Chicago on Friday, on Saturday, and now back in New York, the players had the day off – but management, while still not yet making a trade nor addressing the near $4.5M Filip Chytil missing cap-hit on the roster either, were working.
At 10PM, and just when you thought that you could enjoy a “Rangers-Free” weekend, the club announced the following ahead of their practice ahead prior to Superbowl Sunday’s kickoff:
UPDATE: Adam Edstrom and Matt Rempe have been recalled from Hartford and Jake Leschyshyn has been assigned to Hartford.
— NY Rangers PR (@NYR_PR) February 11, 2024
Obviously, returning Jake Leschyshyn to Hartford was a decision of no consequence, but it was interesting to find out that both Edstrom and Rempe, the two biggest bruisers for the ‘Pack, were recalled to the varsity roster.
And yep, I’d like to make a TWIN TOWERS reference to these two giants (including another 1980s WWF reference on this site, as “The Big Bossman” and “Akeem” used to team up under that name), but I don’t want anyone to take such a reference as yours truly making light of 9/11 – and we all know how people like to twist words around (and misinterpret them too).
But if you don’t know, then here you go:
Rempe, aka REMPESTEIN, is listed at standing at 6’7″, while Edstrom, who scored earlier this season in his only one game worth of action with the Blueshirts, stands at 6’8″.
And for what it’s worth, I can’t recall another time in Rangers’ history when they skated a line-up featuring two players standing at 6’7″ or above.
From first glance, these moves were perhaps to address some of the “softness” in the room, or at the very least, to bring in a physical (and youthful) presence to a team that could use it.
My other thought was that Mrs. Panarin had finally baked her second human loaf of bread too – hence needing two bodies instead of one.
And just to illustrate how wacky this season has been – the Rangers, who have pretty much gone wire-to-wire thus far as the first-place squad of the weak Metro Division – still look like a team that could implode at the drop of the hat.
After all, barring injury, how many first-place teams have there been where there seemingly have a bevy of issues, thus needing an influx of both new blood and upgrades?
Come Sunday morning, about seven-hours or so prior to the National Felony League championship game in Las Vegas, the Rangers held a mandatory practice at their training facility in Tarrytown, N.Y.
There were a few interesting notes from the practice, and where yep, and as you’d assume – both Rempe and Edstrom were in-attendance.
In one development, Tyler Pitlick, who at this point, you have to consider as the team’s official “thirteenth forward,” was scratched. Skating on the fourth line with regulars Jimmy Vesey and Barclay Goodrow was Edstrom, as Rempe, like Pitlick, skated as an extra.
Another development, although I guess it wasn’t that peculiar – except for the fact that it’s peculiar that we are even talking about this, as no one expected this at the start of the season – was the fact that CZAR IGOR, and not the hot-hand Jonathan Quick, was in the starter’s net.
However, our biggest development, and one long overdue, was the fact that Laviolette blew up his two power-play units.
Skating on PP1 were Artemi Panarin, Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere, Erik Gustafsson and Vincent Trocheck.
The second unit consisted of Adam Fox, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Blake Wheeler and Jonny Brodzinski.
My first thought on these two new quintets was that I was surprised that Kakko was part of the first-five. It was my impression that he was installed there to take the Kreider role and since the power-play is CK20’s “bread-and-butter,” then I thought that he should’ve stayed with “The Breadman” himself.
My second thought was that despite everything – Kreider and Zibanejad still remain attached at the hip.
And you thought that Kelce and Swift had the hots for each other!
They are small potatoes when compared to Kreider & Mika.
Here’s what Laviolette had to say for himself following Sunday’s practice:
On the Edstrom and Rempe recalls, Lavy, who you could tell was still perturbed about the way Friday night went, repeatedly used the word “physicality” when talking about these two monsters amongst men – and how his team needed some more (physical) pop.
The head coach also confirmed that Edstrom would be in his line-up come Monday night.
As far as Rempe goes, and the rest of his forward group in general, Lavy said, “we have a lot of stuff going on in the room right now.”
The Blueshirts’ bench boss didn’t say this verbatim, but I just took this to mean that he (and everyone else) knows that Panarin won’t be around soon enough, as everyone awaits the birth of his second child.
And in a way, and with two home games coming up this week against bad teams, I was kind of hoping for Mrs. Panarin to pop – just to see a POP fourth line of Edstrom/Goodrow/Rempe – and with Vesey getting a promotion to the top-six.
Plus, it would also force both Zibanejad and Kreider to show up with the best player on the team out.
Following all of Sunday’s events, where Taylor Swift, in her one-year of NFL fandom, has now seen as many championships won by her favorite team as I have with my favorite hockey team in my near 42-years on this blue-and-green marble (and for what it’s worth – I have no problem with her either – it’s not her fault that the TV cameras are obsessed with her and all she’s doing is supporting the person that she loves); come Monday morning, the team held an optional skate at M$G.
Nothing of note took place at the optional practice, as everything that Laviolette had said 24-hours priors transpired here, including Edstrom installed on the fourth line in favor of Pitlick.
Here was the pregame edition of “LAVY’S LOUNGE” for you:
Without Wince or Mollie around, I thought that Colin Stephenson, from Newsday, asked some pretty good questions here.
When asked about CZAR IGOR, and not Quick, in net, you could see that Lavy was a bit pissed-off about the line of questioning. After all, CZAR IGOR is his starter, and in a curt response, the head coach said as much when he replied, “He [Shestyorkin] is used to starting two games in a row.”
After reconfirming that Edstrom would play tonight, while vaguely admitting that he wasn’t sure what was going on with Panarin just yet, Lavy answered some of Stephenson’s “getting ahead” questions, where the coach said that the team does practice at 3 x 3, 4 x 4 and 6 x 5 (and 5 x 6) – and where all four of these situations were going to be the focus of Tuesday’s practice – as the Rangers, due to the break, haven’t had that many full practices in recent weeks, and where yep, you know it, the busy schedule is also part of it.
Here was Laviolette’s line-up for the fifty-third game of this 2023-24 season:
FIRST LINE: Panarin/Trocheck/Lafreniere
SECOND LINE: Kreider/Zibanejad/Wheeler
THIRD LINE: Cuylle/Brodzinski/Kakko
FOURTH LINE: Vesey/Goodrow/Edstrom
FIRST PAIR: Lindgren/Fox
SECOND PAIR: Miller/Trouba
THIRD PAIR: Gustafsson/Schneider
STARTER: CZAR IGOR
Healthy Scratches: Rempe, Pitlick and Jones
BOX SCORE time.
The following graphics and information come from ESPN.com:
Once returned home to my lovely abode around midnight, I fired up my DVR – and sadly – the smug face of the seven-foot jackass/jackal (any animal will do) instantly disgraced my television screen.
Of course, I shouldn’t have expected Lundqvist to be there since he was in Vegas last night – but ugh – they couldn’t get Brian Boyle there instead of this useless seven-foot toolbag?
As I was eating my dinner, I left this pregame show running, rather than racing for the delete button on my remote control.
I was glad that I did – at least temporarily – as M$GN showed us Matt Rempe getting his rookie lap.
However, since Mrs. Panarin hasn’t popped just yet (and more-and-more – it looks like “The Breadman” used his wife’s pregnancy as a “hall pass” excuse to get out of the All-Star Game – and can you blame him?) – this was the only time that Rempe touched the ice tonight – but I do feel that his NHL debut will come soon enough.
(And I will be sickened if I read tomorrow/Tuesday at 10AM that he was sent back to Hartford.)
As Rempe was taking his first twirl, Giannone reminded us that Edstrom was the assumed Rangers’ choice for a return recall, but he was injured during the past six-weeks.
After that, we went back to Vagistat – who was now giving us his made up charts and graphs.
Since I have a pair of functioning eyeballs, I didn’t need his useless self-serving promotional bullshit to tell me that Mika stinks these days.
As I was now looking to delete these thirty-minutes from my DVR, Vagistat started talking about his pantless goalie stats – and no – I’m not making this up.
Once I finally got this shit off of my TV – to my horror – my DVR didn’t record tonight’s game.
You see, despite yours truly programming my little TV machine to record every Ranger game on M$G – tonight’s game was shifted to M$G2 – thus my DVR didn’t pick up on this.
Thankfully, and as a Cablevision (I know it’s Optimum but I still call it Cablevision – or Dolanvision) customer – I have free access to the new M$GN+ app.
In other words, I got to watch the game – but off of my small laptop – and not on my big screen TV.
Then again, beggars can’t be choosers.
And yep – FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS too!
To open the broadcast, Sam shrieked, “OH JOE, THE RANGERS ARE ON A WINNING STREAK JOE, HOW CAN WE JINX IT JOE?”
Okay, he didn’t say the jinx part – but it sure felt like it.
Sam and Joe then told us that Alexis Lafreniere is red-hot right now, you know, despite having a shooting percentage lower than my BAC on most nights.
After that, our affable announcers then promoted the Rangers’ bottom-six, and specifically, JONNY HOCKEY!
Sam, and of course, then told us how both Blake Coleman and Yegor Sharangovich were former Devils.
As noted in this space once or 896789676767675675 times before – no one is more obsessed with former Devils and Islanders like the man with the bad hairpiece.
(And yep – these former Devil mentions would continue throughout the remainder of the broadcast.)
After telling us how Jakob Markstrom, a Ranger Killer in his own right, is playing well, Sam & Joe then spoke highly of CZAR IGOR and felt that he was turning a corner a bit.
Well they got all of this correct – so there’s that – and let me give them credit where it’s due too!
To close their five-minutes of face time, Sam then rubbed himself silly when talking about Jonathan Huberdeau – and then said that Zibanejad is playing well these days.
I have no clue what Rosen has been watching – and where he might not be aware that the fourth-line winger with no power-play time, Jimmy Vesey (12 goals), is only four-shy of the man being paid over ten-times his salary, Mika Zibanejad (16 goals).
For what it’s worth, here is what I tweeted out before the first puck was dropped:
About to start this #NYR game – predictions:
CZAR IGOR plays well enough, but the “goalie controversy” continues, Zibanejad does jack shit; fellates Kreider anyway, Lafreniere misses 60 chances to score, bottom six carries team, Edstrom gets a point, Miller TO leads to GA.
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) February 13, 2024
Well, I got four things right – and five if you consider this game as a one-off for CZAR IGOR.
And finally, GAME REVIEW time!
Laviolette opened the game with his new fourth line – which included the skyscraper, Adam Edstrom.
Following Goodrow’s opening faceoff loss, the Rangers recovered while Sam gave us Calgary’s complete travel itinerary. Sam, once coming up for air, told us which Flame that he thinks should win the Calder trophy this season.
With 18:15 remaining, THE GUS BUS had a chance, but no dice. As the Flames were about to exit their zone, Trocheck kept the Rangers’ attack alive. In a response, Rosen told us that Kevin Rooney was a former Devil.
Come 17:24 to go, Oliver Kylington was boxed for interfering with Will Cuylle as the Rangers’ rookie was crashing the crease.
The new power-play? The same old results – as they went 0-1 here.
Worse than that?
Not even a SOG.
“The Zibanejad Five” started these two-minutes, where after a “SORRY SAM, PARDON ME JOE,” the new second unit, “The Panarin Pals,” came on just 45-seconds later.
With 40-seconds remaining on the power-play, Panarin set-up Lafreniere, dead-to-rights against Markstrom, but you know the deal – as this time, #13, who should probably change his unlucky number, fanned on the shot.
If you’re looking for a silver lining here, then I guess that it’s Lafreniere – as at least he remains consistent – as he continued his 53-game streak where he couldn’t score on a perfect opportunity.
Down to a clean 15:00 left on the clock, and Markstom made a good save on Wheeler. During the stoppage, we got a shot at the bench as Lafreniere tried to explain to Panarin how he whiffed when shooting at a vacated net.
Down to 14:38 to go and CZAR IGOR made his first save of the game. While I didn’t know it at the time – this wound up being his first of his perfect ESPN branded, “30 For 30” performance.
After Sam was excited when plugging $1,000 beanies (the average price for a ticket – plus the “free” beanie), Markstrom stopped Lindgren, while Lafreniere couldn’t cash-in on the rebound afforded.
Down to 13:00 to go and Markstrom stopped a JONNY HOCKEY shot from the boards, penalty box side.
As Sam rubbed himself red-raw when talking about how Connor Zary and Braden Schneider once played together in Kamloops, British Columbia, Trouba was lining himself up for a big hit.
Come 12:05 remaining and this is when Trouba floored Jakob Pelletier:
Jakob Pelletier felt this hit from Jacob Trouba. pic.twitter.com/ULqJTlqnPL
— Jonny Lazarus (@JLazzy23) February 13, 2024
Once again, this was another huge, yet legal, hit from the captain – and another hit that ended the night for a Rangers’ foe, as following this crushing blow, Pelletier never returned.
And for whatever reason – THE TROO TROO TRAIN always makes its stops whenever the Flames are the opponent too.
With 10:51 to go, Zibanejad blew a tire behind Markstrom’s net, which led to a turnover – and a huge glove save by CZAR IGOR on Kadri.
Out of a TV timeout, and this is when Gianonne and Micheletti reported that Pelletier went to the locker room – and how he was just making his return following six-months off after undergoing a shoulder surgery.
Down to 9:52 to go – and Lafreniere, when three-feet out and dead-center in the slot – went wide. When it rains it pours – and where again – maybe it’s time for a jersey number change. (And if you’re the Rangers then you’d love this – more jerseys/merch to sell!)
As Sam was wondering on who will be the next Flame out of Calgary (but not one word on the Rangers’ trade deadline), Markstrom stopped Miller with 7:50 remaining.
Following the save?
“GOOD PACE JOE!”
Come 7:32 remaining and Cuylle and Martin Pospisil took off-setting roughing minors (and really, this didn’t need to be called), which then set up two-minutes of foreplay.
While these two were going at it, I was thinking this: If this was the playoffs, then I don’t think any of this would have been called.
Ergo, “LET THEM PLAY!”
The Rangers dominated these two-minutes, and where just 38-seconds into it, Zibanejad had his lover set-up on Markstrom’s doorstep – but CK20 pulled a Lafreniere and went wide.
Right after that Trouba was stopped by Markstrom – and then Big Jake made his best save yet, this time on Trocheck as the first-line center made a backhanded move at the top of the goal-mouth.
If that wasn’t enough, then Markstrom robbed Trocheck again (high glove save) just three-seconds later – and see it for yourself:
— Jonny Lazarus (@JLazzy23) February 13, 2024
Once returned to full-strength, Sam told us that the Rangers were out-shooting the Flames 6-3 – but had also missed the net eight times.
Come 4:15 to go, CZAR IGOR poke-checked a puck away from Huberdeau and then stopped the Flamer on his next shot attempt.
After Sam and Joe were through pumping Weeger’s tires a bit while also talking about every trade that Calgary has ever made; Mika tried to set-up Kreider again, but also once again, no dice.
For good measure, and with 2:37 to go, Markstrom came up with another robbery save, this time on Wheeler – and where really – Wheeler had to bury this puck.
Jumpin Joe’s response, and I’m not making this up:
“Markstrom might go to the Devils.”
That’s what every Ranger fan wanted to hear – especially after being “goalie’d” by the Devils in May of ’23 – and you may have heard about this once or 3764769348976796349634 times before.
As Sam told us that Lindgren just turned 26-years-old yesterday and how Kakko will turn 23-years-old on Tuesday (or today by the time you read these words); Micheletti then told us that he spoke to Flames’ general manager, Craig Conroy.
And isn’t it amazing Suzyn how Micheletti never tells us how he talked to Chris Drury?
Now under two-minutes remaining and Markstrom stopped Wheeler again – but at least this wasn’t a robbery save.
With 1:17 to go, Kreider had a mini-breakaway and this extended the Rangers’ zero for their last 938643476789436763 breakaway streak.
That said, Chris Tanev got there at the last second, and where Joe was extremely concerned about the Flame being traded – which was the theme of tonight’s broadcast – “FLAMES TRADE WATCH!”
Down to thirteen-seconds remaining, and Lafreniere, following a strong defensive play from Panarin, had all-day to shoot at Markstom, and once he did – the shot went right to the red “C” on the goaltender’s chest.
Scoreless after twenty-minutes – and where you felt like the Rangers had blown all of their chances.
Thankfully, Cuylle scored on his during the next period – and better than that – that was all that was needed.
Following our mandatory Rosen question of, “SECOND PERIOD, WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR HERE JOE?” – I was hoping that Micheletti was going to respond with, “The Flames’ media guide being thrown off the Chase Bridges! WATCH THE GAME SAM!”
Sam then promoted the BUD LIGHT GLASS PASS UP YOUR ASS promotion too.
And for good measure, Sam and Joe said that Lafreniere was playing lights-out, which was ironic, since he didn’t light a goal lamp.
Lavy went right back to his fourth line to open a period and where this time, Goodrow won it.
Also at this time?
Sam and Joe wept sad tears over the loss of Pelletier – and how he was officially done for the night.
About a minute into this second stanza and there was Markstrom again to deny Wheeler.
It did say something at this time that Wheeler ($800K) had more SOG and GOOD LOOKS than the two players making over $15M combined, his linemates, Mika and Kreider.
Zary, previously the apple of Sam’s eye, hit the iron so hard that even Rosen heard the <DING>.
After that, and with still over 18:00 to go, Markstrom stopped an innocent shot from CK20.
As the Flames were picking up some momentum, the Rangers iced the puck with 16:44 to go.
As Rosen was talking about Edstrom, the big beanstalk made the announcer sound timely, as he came up with two big hits.
Down to 14:35 to go? Another Markstrom save following another solid shot from Wheeler.
Thirty-seconds later, and CZAR IGOR came up with a strong save himself when he denied THE FORMER DEVIL, Yegor Sharangovich.
Come 12:57 to go and CZAR IGOR preserved his shutout, with a snow angel – and with ROON DOOGS crashing his crease too.
And I gotta say – however you felt about Kevin Rooney, I always enjoyed whenever he talked about himself in the third-person – and as if he were “The Rock.”
“THE ROON DOG SAYS, KNOW YOUR FOURTH-LINE ROLE AND SHUT YOUR MOUTH CHARTBOYS!”
Fresh out of a TV timeout and this is when Sam, and for I believe the 45th time this season, anointed another opposing player as his “KIA CARD PLAYER OF THE GAME,” as this time, Blake Coleman was featured.
And yep – Rosen made sure to remind us that Coleman once played for the Devils.
Whew, I was worried that this senile bastard was going to forget!
After talking about the Tampa Bay Lightning’s two recent Stanley Cups for ten-minutes, Sam and Joe remembered that there was a game going on in front of them – and where Cuylle came up with a good block on Kadri with 12:25 to go.
Also at this time?
Zibanejad was demoted and skating on a line with Cuylle and Brodzinski – or at least that’s what Micheletti said.
In reality, Mika was at the end of his shift.
But the fact that Micheletti believed this to be the case in the moment pretty much tells you what you need to know – as such a move wouldn’t shock anyone – and that’s not good news.
As Markstrom lost his stick and left his net to get it – he got back just in time to stop Goodrow with 11:44 remaining – so another “Blueshirts’ Blown Chance” (patent pending).
Following the faceoff after the save, both Panarin and “Piss Pot Whistle” (government surname, Pospisil) started going at it, as each man traded several hits with the other.
This led to this:
TEMPERS FLARING AT MSG. pic.twitter.com/KSjhhtMWDb
— Jonny Lazarus (@JLazzy23) February 13, 2024
And holy shit – Panarin was looking to fight here!
The man is about to become a two-time dad – OH THE HUMANITY!
The end result?
Five penalties were assessed here (check the PENALTIES segment), and where the Flames received a power-play out of it too with 11:09 remaining.
Again, and for about the billionth time on this site – I just hate this stuff.
Unless something truly egregious goes down (which wasn’t the case here), then you penalize everyone or you penalize no one.
How the Flames got a power-play out of this is beyond me, as Johnny Walker Duehr was also involved in the post-whistle shenanigans/scrum.
Thankfully, and as mentioned several times over the past few weeks, for as bad as the power-play has been, equally as good has been the Rangers’ penalty kill.
Six-seconds into the PK and CZAR IGOR recorded his first save – and a dozen-seconds later you may ask?
Huberdeau tripped Trouba, thus ending the Flames’ power-play.
The Rangers’ PK was now one-of-one – and had drawn their own penalty too.
Pretty, pretty, pretty good – and where maybe this was also a “make-up call” for putting the Flames on the power-play to begin with. (This was a legit call – but also somewhat accidental.)
With six-men in the box, three aside, and with 10:50 to go, we then had some foreplay.
Come twenty-seconds remaining on the foreplay and CZAR IGOR made a tight glove save on “Don’t Call Me Bob” Backlund.
Following a TV timeout, Sam Rosen was happy to talk about the fired-from-M$GN Anson Carter.
“OH JOE, BLACK HISTORY MONTH, REMEMBER OUR FORMER CO-WORKER JOE?”
Once returned to full-strength with 8:49 to go, Calgary received a 4 x 2 odd-man rush, but a Kadri shot was blocked.
Then, and with 7:29 it happened – our eventual game-winning goal – and the only goal of the game without the two letters of “EN” prefacing it:
We’ve talked about #NYR being hungrier around the net.
Will Cuylle is hungry.
Finally, we have a goal. pic.twitter.com/0UWqgEtcwo
— Jonny Lazarus (@JLazzy23) February 13, 2024
1-0, GOOD GUYS and a PURE THIRD LINE goal too, as Cuylle, who was crashing the crease and never relented, capitalized after being fed by the Finn, Kakko himself, who had previously retrieved the puck from JONNY HOCKEY!
And as it usually works out – a goalie on a heater gives up something like this after making about 876786786876 robbery saves prior to his eventual goal allowed.
No less than twenty-seconds after the big 1-0 goal (and the eventual game-winner too), we had more chippy stuff on the ice, as the Rangers’ fourth line took umbrage with Huberdeau and Co.
And I loved Edstrom defending Goodrow here too!
While no off-setting penalties were called here, just seconds later, and with 6:59 to go, Kakko went off for tripping Sam’s favorite player, Connor Zary.
The end result of these two-minutes?
The Rangers’ red-hot PK extended all of their positive streaks, now having killed 18 of their last 19 penalties – and without giving up a power-play goal in their past eight games too.
Now if only their power-play could ride this wave.
And to close this particular PK?
CZAR IGOR came up with a stone job on Zary.
Once back to full-strength, the BFF boys had a 2 x 1 odd-man rush, and following Mika’s pass – Kreider hit Markstrom’s glove.
Down to 4:08 to go and Lafreniere tried to set-up Trocheck at the door-step, but this was a no go too. Ten-seconds later, the same thing happened in-reverse, where this time Lafreniere was stopped by Markstrom.
It’s amazing how snake-bitten these guys are these days – and where Lafreniere must’ve been bit by a million-pound KING COBRA.
And then, with 3:35 remaining, Micheletti said the word “SHUTOUT” no less than ten-times.
I’m not making this up.
At the time, I wanted to strangle Joe like one of those King Cobras who must’ve bitten Lafreniere – or at the very least – have one of these big snakes wrap their bodies around Micheletti’s fat mouth!
Seriously, how can this guy jinx the team he’s supposed to be covering and rooting for?
Fortunately, this reverse curse never saw the light of day – nor did Calgary see a red light either – but even so – I was furious when I heard this.
Down to 2:30 to go and the fourth line were attacking again – and where it was noticeable that BIG ED was doing his best to screen Markstrom.
Under a minute to go and Sam, for the fourth time, told us all about Schneider and Zary’s days in Kamploops again. While that was going on, CZAR IGOR stopped Mangipane.
We then had another scrum with 17.9-seconds to go, this time with Trocheck at the center it, but the refs let these guys push-and-shove each other without repercussions.
Following a TROUBA BOMB that exploded on the backboards rather than into the net, we hit the end of the period.
1-0, GOOD GUYS – and where it most certainly felt like the Rangers should’ve had a touchdown lead – but again – they had the defense, namely CZAR IGOR, to protect the razor-thin margin.
With twenty-minutes to go, Goodrow won the first faceoff of the period, and where yet again, his line spent most of their shift in Calgary’s zone.
Not even a minute in and Sam and Joe were already in wrap-up mode – and previewing the Flames’ upcoming schedule too.
And yep – they were doing this in a 1-0 game.
Just mind-boggling – and in case you need such confirmation – yes, the puck was in play.
With 17:09 to go and CZAR IGOR was feeling it – via his cocky BESSIE save on Rasmus Andersson.
And these two idiots in the booth were in wrap-up mode.
I’d like to say this is unbelievable, but like Lafreniere missing on a scoring chance – this is to be expected.
Speaking of the first-overall pick, he had a clear-as-day shot blocked, as he waited too long to shoot with 15:50 to go.
As the game progressed, the Rangers seemed resigned to the fact that they weren’t going to score again.
In turn, defense was a priority and where many Blueshirts were stepping in front of shots and clogging lanes.
And when they did shoot?
Markstrom continued to make Lafreniere look like a beer-leaguer – and he did again with 12:32 to go.
At some point, and for as well as he plays – the guy NEEDS to finish.
It’s stuff like this that you will be kicking yourself over all summer should it continue.
I’m not saying that he has to shoot 100%, but he’s gotta start converting on these myriad of chances that he gets in every game.
Thankfully, #13, and just like everyone else – he had CZAR IGOR in the Rangers’ net.
With 10:49 to go, the Flames had another odd-man rush, where this time, Kadri went wide. This then led Rosen into pulling his pants down and going to town on himself when talking about Zary again.
Thirty-seconds later and there was Markstrom again – who this time – prevented us from seeing a MILLER TIME insurance goal.
With 9:43 to go, Tanev prevented a Vesey-to-Edstrom goal.
Sam’s response? Trying to will a goal for Blake Coleman – who was denied by Miller from doing so.
Come 7:46 remaining and there was CZAR IGOR to keep his NYET NYET in-tact, with another save on Kadri.
32-seconds later and Wheeler, following a superb defensive play, drew Paschal for holding.
With a chance to somewhat put the game away – Laviolette went back to his normal PP1 unit – having already abandoned his new units after only two tries.
The end result?
The same old shit – and 0-3 power-play on the night – and zero in their last seventeen attempts.
As this was going on, what were our announcers doing?
Screaming about how Calgary was due for a short-handed goal.
CZAR IGOR game up with three short-handed saves – and where 66.7% of them took place following a turnover from Fox.
You can’t make this up – but CZAR IGOR was able to overcome these two idiots in the booth tonight.
Following the Calgary kill and now surpassed the FOXWOODS FINAL FIVE mark too, I thought it was a heck of a vote of confidence for Edstrom, who remained in the game – and continued to play above his pay grade – and Mika’s salary too!
With 3:12 to go, Miller had a chance to end it for real – but instead, #79 extended the Rangers’ breakaway drought to zero of their last 79-million.
A minute later?
After fellating Coleman all game, Sam and Joe were forced to call two CZAR IGOR robberies on the Flame – and while the Garden Faithful returned the familiar sounds of “IGOR, IGOR, IGOR!” to M$G.
With 1:35 to go, Markstrom left the ice for the extra attacker.
#31 just missed out on scoring an empty net goal – but the puck went ever so wide for a Rangers’ icing.
But can you imagine?
A shutout and a goal scored?
While CZAR IGOR didn’t score the empty netter – Jimmy Vesey did with 20-seconds left.
2-0, GOOD GUYS – and this wasn’t a “gimmie” empty netter either, as Vesey forced a turnover on a Flames’ d-man and then deposited the puck in the net.
2-0, GOOD GUYS, FINAL – and the first shutout for CZAR IGOR this season!
Here’s a happy Laviolette, who in hindsight, made some of the media members look like schmucks for daring to question his decision to go with CZAR IGOR earlier in the day:
Best game of the season?
But maybe a rare win that you may remember later on down the pike – and especially should this be the catalyst in CZAR IGOR’s comeback?
As the kids say, one-thou-wow!
As noted earlier, the Rangers will be practicing on Tuesday and will then host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
After that, the Rangers play visitor to the Islanders (tax purposes) at Giants’ Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Of note: Sunday’s blog will be delayed – as I am attending a watch party at my local watering hole.
And while I’ve been offered tickets to the outdoor game – I just have no interest in going.
I’ve done it before – and really – these games are just made for TV.
It’s also tough to get a good sight line at a football stadium – which is why the fonts on these jerseys is like your grandpa’s I-Phone – size 100.
(Furthermore, getting in-and-out of that horrendously designed NFL stadium is a freakin’ nightmare too. It only takes me ten-minutes, round-trip, to walk to and walk home from my favorite bar – where as mentioned before – they have even installed a Labatt Blue tap for yours truly – which is why I also feel obligated not to miss a watch party there!)
That all said, if you have never been to one of these gimmick games before, then like me, you should go and then cross it off your bucket list.
And once you do so – then next time the Rangers are outside – then you’ll be inside like me too!
Depending on my busy schedule – and where I’m hoping that a snow day gives me a free day off tomorrow/today/Tuesday – I’ll at least be back on Thursday night – but I am hoping to return prior to that.
In the meantime, catch up on your “RANGERS’ READING,” 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/
My second plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden.”
As mentioned previously, the book is now available in hardcover, in paperback and in Kindle formats. To purchase a copy of the book, visit this link:
For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have re-ordered more copies. I now have a few signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:
My four-volume set of books, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is a game-by-game recount of the Rangers 2021-22 campaign.
My second title as an author, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is now available in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats.
To obtain signed copies, visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/onegamebook/
To purchase all four volumes on Amazon, visit: Amazon.com – “One Game at a Time.”
The greatest volume-set of books on Rangers’ history today!
“Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History,” a four-volume set of books that meticulously covers every trade made in franchise history, is now on sale.
All four volumes of the title can be purchased on Amazon.com and are presented in three different formats – eBook, paperback and hardcover.
To purchase Volume I: Conn Smythe (1926) – Craig Patrick (1986), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume II: Phil Esposito (1986) – Neil Smith (2000), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume III: Glen Sather (2000-2015), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume IV: Jeff Gorton (2015) – Chris Drury (2022), visit Amazon.com
To purchase signed copies of all four volumes, visit https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/
Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:
NYR/CHI 2/9 Review: “Jekyll & Hyde” Rangers Scalp Hawks in OT; Have a “My Dog Just Died” Reaction Afterwards, No Postgame Hugs from the BFF, Winning Ways Extended To Four Straight (And For the First Time Since T-Day), “The Stairway To Heaven” Perspective; Yet All Problems & “Controversies” Remain, Fox Snubbed, Brooks Downs Dreger, Lavy’s Lounge, M$GN & More
NYR/TBL 2/7 Review: TRUE GRIT! Rangers’ Bottom Six (And Six-Figure Salaries) Carry Blueshirts’ FAT CATS To An Impressive Victory Over Bolts; Send Out an APB For Mika Zibanejad, Goalie Controversy Intensifies; Quick Shines & Should Go Four in a Row, Sickening Sergachev Injury Sustained, Laviolette, Lundqvist Stars on TNT; Boucher Channels Rosen & More
Darren Dreger Reports a Dubious James Dolan Rumor Concerning Chris Drury & The 2024 NHL Draft; Why Fans Shouldn’t Buy It, Dolan’s “Legacy,” Nick Bonino’s Blueshirts’ Tenure Officially Kaput – And Why the Devils Could Be a Fit For Him, Laviolette Teases Riding Quick’s Hot Hand & More
If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:
Don’t forget to order my four-volume set of books, “Tricks of the Trade!”
If you don’t order through me, all four volumes are now available on Amazon.com
For more details, check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/
Thanks for reading.
LET’S GO RANGERS!
@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine