Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. For a man of many adages, here’s another one, “three wins in a row is a streak!”
(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. In other words, 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!)
Unlike the Blueshirts’ two previous wins prior to Wednesday night, a shellacking over the last-place Ottawa Senators and an overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche – I thought that this particular 3-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning was most impressive.
As said following the win against the Senators – Ottawa is horrible this season – so not much was truly gained (or perhaps “learned” is the better word) – outside of the two-points in the standings.
When it comes to beating Alexandar Georgiev and company – the Rangers really didn’t look that hot for most of the game – although Jonathan Quick was. Without Quick, a late Panarin goal doesn’t tie the game, nor does Lafreniere win it in overtime either.
Tonight was much different, as while Tampa had their chances, for the most part, the Rangers dominated what was largely a one-goal or tied game throughout.
But even whenever playing at 0-0, 2-0 or 2-1, and prior to Vesey saying “GAME OVER” with his 3-1 empty-netter (and his second goal of the contest for that matter too) – the Rangers just looked calm – and better than that – fully in control too.
As opposed to most of these Blueshirt games played during the past six-weeks, this wasn’t a back-and-forth affair where both teams tried to total a combined 100 shots on goal.
Instead, while the crowd never exhibited such energy, this felt like a playoff game, as both teams prioritized defense to the best of their ability – and where let’s face it – you’re talking about a game featuring a ton of highly offensively skilled players – so scoring chances, as limited as they were, was always going to happen.
For Jonathan Quick, who for the second straight game, only allowed one goal, he picked up his 12th win of the season – and where he only had to make 18 saves in order to do so.
While he did also get two saves from his best friend, the post; when you’re playing at a high level, you create your own luck, as opposing shooters are aware of what you’re up to, and in turn, overthink when firing the rubber.
I don’t know if I’m making a mountain out of a molehill here, but while there is definitely a “GOALIE CONTROVERSY” brewing in New York, and despite whatever Peter Laviolette might be selling these days (more below); but as mentioned at the top of this – the Rangers just seemed to be in a state of serenity all game – and where you just felt safe & secure with Quick in net.
And perhaps I’m saying this after watching the TNT broadcast of tonight’s tilt – as no joke – they must’ve brought up CZAR IGOR vs Jonathan Quick no less than a billion times – but of course – it is the top story in Rangerstown, USA, so it deserved such attention.
In a way, this game felt like a “throwback” to the days when the Rangers were 15-3-1 at the start of the season, but we do have to make one amendment, this one:
“If the Rangers’ first line (the Panarin trio) doesn’t score, then don’t expect the Rangers’ second line (the BFF line) to show up.”
The amendment follows after those two words of “show up,” and like this:
“If the Rangers’ first line (the Panarin trio) doesn’t score, then don’t expect the Rangers’ second line (the BFF line) to show up – but you can expect the fourth line to do the heavy lifting!”
Ever since Filip Chytil went down, which then created a chain of events where Vincent Trocheck was bumped up and in turn, created the “GAG 2.0 Line”- which then also made both Jimmy Vesey and Tyler Pitlick as regulars in “Lavy’s Lineup” – this unintended fourth line, featuring Goodrow in the middle of Vesey and Pitlick, has been a go-to line for the head coach.
(There’s an example of some late-night “bad grammar!” Holy massacre on the English language Batman!)
We’ve seen this fourth-line trio all season being deployed against the top lines of Ranger opponents – and where tonight was no different.
For most of this game, Vesey, Goodrow and Pitlick, who collectively averaged 12:30 of ice time tonight, had to combat the likes of Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point.
And for the kicker?
Vesey scored the “Blueshirts’ Sandwich Goals,” the first and the third, while Jonny Brodzinski, another bottom-sixer, scored the insurance goal, the Rangers’ second of the game – and what ultimately wound up becoming the game-winner too.
It’s been suggested by many throughout the course of this season, and following “meh” showings from both Kaapo Kakko and Blake Wheeler on the BFF line, that just like last year, that perhaps Jimmy Vesey should get a crack to skate alongside of Chris Kreider and Missing Mika.
Heck, and as you’ll see below – Laviolette even brought this up during his post-game edition of “LAVY’S LOUNGE.”
However, and similar to a good employee that you don’t want to promote because you know that you won’t find anyone else to replace that person – Vesey, and his line, have played so well together that by breaking them up, then you risk losing your best shutdown line in the process.
And I’m not just saying this because Vesey scored tonight – because as mentioned – many have championed for #26 to receive this opportunity – but one that most likely won’t come – just because it could throw off the team’s chemistry.
Plus, you don’t want Zibanejad cooling off and dragging down Vesey either!
At this time, I want to share some graphics with you:
For your consideration:
Wednesday night’s three stars of the game were:
3. Brodzinski ($762,500 cap hit)
2. Quick ($825,000 cap hit)
1. Vesey ($800,00 cap hit)
In other words, these three Rangers, at the bottom of the barrel of the team’s salary cap, who combined, make $2,387,500, carried the team against the upper-echelon Tampa Bay Lightning.
If we keep it to just the forwards, then the two goal scorers of tonight’s tilt, Brodzinski and Vesey, make a combined sum of $1,562,500.
I’m leaving players like Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck out of this – because after all – they have been excellent all season – and where other teams are now focusing the bulk of their efforts against this dynamic duo.
But Mika Zibanejad?
With a cap-hit of $8,500,000, not only does he make $6,112,500 more than tonight’s three stars – he makes $6,937,500 more than Vesey and Brodzinski combined!
You might say, “Sean, you’re picking on Mopey Missing Mika again” – but am I really?
For $8.5M (and yes – I’ve brought up this uncanny figure before – and about a billion times between the years of 2014-2020) – but at the end of the day – MIKA IS PAID TO SCORE GOALS – and not passionately hug and/or rub-and-tug his best friend every night, Chris Kreider.
This is not to take away from Vesey and Brodzinski – but let’s face it – you can’t expect these two to carry the team from an offensive standpoint every night either.
We should expect Mika to do so – or at the very least, and without a shadow of a doubt – we should expect the $8.5M alleged first line center to score more than one goal this year – as #93, in 2024, is still sitting on only one goal scored.
I’ve said it a few times this season – but for the first time in Zibanejad’s career – his usual and predicted cold start has now turned into a slow and sliding season – and now to the point of despair.
And since he hasn’t been much of a playoff player in recent years – this is a major cause for concern – especially since Panarin, while red-hot right now, hasn’t exactly been at his best come the postseason either.
While of course, and as mentioned, the hottest topic at 33rd & 7th is the state of the goaltending – you also can’t ignore how horrible Zibanejad has been this season.
And really – had he been able to regain his scoring touch (and especially on the power-play that gets worse-and-worse with each game played) – then the Rangers would have never come close to nearly blowing their once double-digit first-place lead in the ultra-weak Metro division.
But since all eyes are on CZAR IGOR and Jonathan Quick – then perhaps Zibanejad owes Shestyorkin a steak dinner for taking the bulk of the attention away from him.
At the very least, Mika owes Jimmy & Tyler an all-expenses-paid night out.
While I’ll save the majority of my thoughts for tonight’s GAME REVIEW segment, it was my opinion that the Rangers played a well-balanced game – and where Tampa was never truly a threat.
I know that TNT’s Brian Boucher repeated no less than 9876348637864879634 times that he expected Tampa to come out and play like shit tonight, as this was their first game back from the break; but to me, I thought they hung in there – but they just couldn’t overcome a Ranger team that dripped confidence.
Plus, and how can one not think this – I think the Mikhail Sergachev injury, one that could be season-ending, also took them out of the game (more on this below).
That injury, just one of those plays that happens in hockey – and not dirty – is one of the risks of the game.
But of course, no one wants to see anything like that, and especially an injury so gruesome.
Again, I don’t know if the Rangers’ confidence was solely because of Quick in net – but if that’s the case – it wouldn’t be unprecedented.
After all, we’ve seen this a lot during the past decade, and whether it was with Cam Talbot, Antti Raanta, Alexandar Georgiev and even CZAR IGOR himself – we have seen the Rangers come up to play for their back-ups – where yes, this can be true too – and maybe because they take their starting goalie for granted.
At this time, let’s breeze through the pregame news & notes, and then get into the GAME REVIEW.
However, and in case you missed it, I covered Tuesday’s off-day last night here:
Here was the pregame edition of “LAVY’S LOUNGE” for you:
While Laviolette spoke for nearly eight-minutes; obviously, the only thing that anyone cared about was his decision on who to start tonight.
The answer – and as teased on Tuesday at practice – Jonathan Quick.
I won’t go into everything CZAR IGOR vs. Jonathan Quick again tonight, but if you want all of it, then read what I wrote on Monday night here: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/2524/
As said then, as said last night and as I’m saying one more time tonight – I had no problem with Laviolette riding the hot hand – and despite yours truly being the biggest fanboy of CZAR IGOR around!
While I do believe that CZAR IGOR will eventually regain his Vezina level form – you have to do what’s best for the team – and right now – that’s Quick in net – and until proven otherwise.
During his press conference, Laviolette gave some cockamamie story about how he told CZAR IGOR that he would sit for the first two games following the All-Star break.
Allegedly, CZAR IGOR confirmed such a tale to the gullible Blueshirt beat reporters – the worst crop of “reporters” in the land.
As you can see from my snide and snippy remarks – I don’t buy any of what Lavy is selling.
After all, had Quick been hammered on Monday night against Colorado – then are you telling me that whether he gave up 100 goals or no goals – that he was going to start 48-hours later?
If anything, and the real reason why I believe that Laviolette was trying to do some “damage control” here, then it’s because the head coach used the word “tentative” several times, and where that word preceded another word that Lavy used a few times too, “plans.”
As they say, and you already know that I love my adages and cliches – “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
And now what?
While Quick wasn’t challenged much on Wednesday night – he did make the big saves when needed.
Are the new “tentative plans” to give Quick his fourth straight start on Friday night in Chicago?
I’ll give you the answer at the end of the GAME REVIEW.
But spoiler alert: YES!
Here was Laviolette’s line-up for the fifty-first 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/Pitlick
FIRST PAIR: Lindgren/Fox
SECOND PAIR: Miller/Trouba
THIRD PAIR: Gustafsson/Schneider
BACK-UP: CZAR IGOR
Healthy Scratches: Leschyshyn
BOX SCORE time.
The following graphics and information come from ESPN.com:
J. Quick G
When you get settled into your home at around 12:15AM following a hard day at work – and then plan to watch game and then write about it until 6:00AM after such viewing – then it’s a treat not to have to deal with the likes of Sieve Vagistat!
In other words, tonight’s game was broadcasted by TNT!
Surprisingly, the NHL on TNT broadcast, best in the world, didn’t have Henrik Lundqvist on their panel tonight (the studio is in Atlanta – and Lundqvist usually flies down south on Wednesdays); as instead, Biz, Anson Carter and Chris Chelios joined host Liam McHugh.
However, and as I’d later find out – Lundqvist was at M$G tonight – and would later work on his night off – albeit in a cameo role.
After telling some war stories from their own careers and then talking about Nikita Kucherov’s weekend in Toronto, the panel did a puff piece on #86 in Lightning blue.
Anson Carter later said that Artemi Panarin is one of the best free agent signings in hockey of the past ten years – but with yours truly as a bonafide and esteemed Rangers’ historian – I can confidently proclaim the following:
Panarin is the absolute best free agent signing in the history of the New York Rangers.
McHugh then said that Panarin’s wife is still expecting the couple’s second child.
As brought up during the bye-week – the Rangers ultimately got a break here.
Since Panarin’s wife hasn’t baked her human loaf yet, that meant that #10 was able to play in these two gut-check/litmus test games against the Avalanche and Lightning – and isn’t it amazing Suzyn – two teams without the letter “s” at the end of their names!
(What a dumb fun fact!)
Put it this way: Should Mrs. Panarin have baby #2 between now and Friday – then you’d rather see her husband miss the game against crappy Chicago, instead of having lost him during these past two games – and two wins may I add!
The panel, now joined by commentators Kenny Albert and Edzo, talked about the “goalie controversy” in New York – and then flashed each goaltender’s stats.
I didn’t know it then, but by the time that this game had reached its conclusion – this topic dominated about 90% of the broadcast – and where as noted up top – I get it – it’s a national broadcast – and this is the biggest story in N.Y. right now.
Brian Boucher, in-between the benches, brought up how Quick was signed to give CZAR IGOR a “shove,” a term that the former goalie used in steed of motivation – and how today – the complete opposite is happening.
No offense to Biz, who then chimed in, but his comparison to CZAR IGOR to what he saw in Arizona with Darcy Kuemper was apples and oranges.
I mean, do I even have to explain it?
When the Coyotes draw more than 4,000 to a home game, then I’ll give you that explanation.
Up next was the TNT panel promoting a +725 three-leg parlay that came nowhere close to hitting tonight.
PROMO CODE: NO REFUNDS SUCKERS!
After contributing to the young male suicide rate, TNT then showed us a shot of Zibanejad talking to his newborn in-attendance – which only told us that he can score off of the ice – but not on it.
After talking about their old friend Rick Tocchet, the All-Star Game and public relations, Carter, who was in Toronto with one of the charities/foundations that he works with, then started promoting the virtues of the all-womens’ hockey league, the PWHL.
What Carter didn’t tell you (and what I’m telling you here comes first-hand from a former player who had to retire because the pay offered to her was peanuts), was how these players make next-to-nothing, the league has a horrible business model (who launches a league without team names – and the merchandising that comes from it?), it’s not profitable – and how unlike the NBA does for the WNBA – the NHL doesn’t subsidize this money-losing league for a tax writeoff.
An equally important omission?
How many female players were forced to retire once the PWHL launched.
(If you don’t believe me, then look it up – as a ton of them were forced to take “real-life” jobs – as this league doesn’t pay the bills.)
Once returned from a commercial break, Tampa bench boss, Jon Cooper, who has worked with the TNT guys before (during the 2023 Stanley Cup Final), was interviewed.
When asked if Kucherov thrives as being a villain, Hanging with Mr. Cooper laughed about it and then said how his team has been viewed as heels for some time.
The head coach then said that Kucherov is the best player that he’s ever coached – so take that Stammer Time!
Cooper, while not saying verbatim that the salary cap absolutely sucks, brought up how his roster has been overhauled since winning back-to-back Stanley Cups.
Of course, this is a topic that I’ve talked about many times on this site before, so no need to rehash all of this again.
However, I thought it was interesting that Tampa began this season with seven new players on their roster – where again – that damn salary cap that punishes franchises for doing the right thing and being successful – while rewarding the ones who can’t get one damn thing correct.
On losing Vasilevskiy due to injury at the start of the season, Cooper, when asked for his reaction, laughed and said that he was “panicked.” He said this tongue-in-cheek, and really, his humorous personality came off well here.
Cooper even closed with a joke – as he told Chelios to keep his seat warm – but of course – a seat on the panel for the Bolts’ bench boss would be a bad thing – as it would mean an early playoff exit – or worse than that – no postseason berth at all.
Carter, on AV’s injury to open the 2023-24 campaign, said that it could be a blessing in disguise, where the former Blueshirt then brought up how the Big Cat is used to a heavy workload and finally got a rest for the first time in his career.
After a plug for Biz’s podcast, “Spittin’ Chiclets,” where unlike Sieve Vagistat’s Clear-Sighted Assholes company – people actually pay attention to Biz’s off-television work, we were then told how Biz recently did an episode on Wayne Gretzky’s deceased father, Walter – and how he’d impressively and graciously allow local kids to visit his basement to see all of 99’s memorabilia.
GAME REVIEW time.
As Kenny Albert lightly brushed on the goalie controversy in New York, the puck dropped and then Trocheck won the first draw of the game. Immediately afterwards, Cernak gave Lindgren a big hit, and then – and at just the 28-second mark – Adam Fox hit the post.
This meeting of rubber and iron then gave Tampa a two-vs-one odd-man rush, but Fox got back and was able to break up Stamkos’ headman pass.
In other words, and just thirty-seconds in, we could’ve had a goal either way.
With 18:42 remaining, Zibanejad was able to skate by Hedman, but Vasilevskiy was able to stop the man of one goal scored in 2024.
I’m not so sure if Mika could even score against Vagistat these days.
A few seconds later and Cernak came up with another big hit, this time on Pitlick.
Down to 17:40 remaining and Quick came up with a big save on Point.
About a minute later, Albert mentioned that it was Stamkos’ birthday, but unlike Sam Rosen – we didn’t hear what Stamkos had for dinner, who his second grade teacher was, his blood type, etc.
With 15:22 remaining, Panarin tried the same move that he successfully scored on against Colorado, but this time, he went wide. Even so, it was a good idea – and we’ve seen this “dispy-doodling” pay many dividends before.
Come 14:23 remaining and Quick came up with a pair of saves as Tampa crowded his net against the Rangers’ second line.
With 13:47 remaining, Nick Perbix, all alone in the slot, went wide – and while Glendening had Quick screened like a lunar eclipse. Whew.
Come 13:00 left on the dot and AV made a clean save on a Trouba try.
Once returned from a TV timeout, we saw that Lundqvist was sitting in the good seats – and while enjoying the game with his daughters.
But go figure – Lundqvist was watching a game between two “Ranger Killers” from my most recent book, the Tampa Bay Lightning (2015) and Jonathan Quick.
As not much was going on, the digital advertising on the boards was noticeable, as it was all TNT-related. I don’t know why, but I found this interesting.
Down to 11:11 remaining and a Wheeler to Miller pass landed in the Craigs’ List “Missed Connections” category. Had it connected, then it would’ve been a one-timer opportunity for #79.
Come 10:17 remaining and Goodrow came one-foot shy of having a breakaway, but AV left his net and raced to the high slot and got to the puck first.
Boucher then told us that Goodrow isn’t really fast and how AV knew that, having played with him during Tampa’s two Cup runs. (He said this in a jesting tone and wasn’t trying to bury Goodrow.)
As the broadcasters were talking about the lack of stoppages in this tightly contested game; down to 8:26 to go and Quick came up with a clean glove save on Point – which then gave us the TV timeout that Albert, Edzo and Boucher so desired.
Once returned from the break, the announcers then talked about the trade deadline – but from Tampa’s perspective – and not New York’s. It was opined that Tampa could use another defenseman – and after tonight – that’s probably, if not most certainly, the case.
As we hit 7:00 remaining in the period, the SOG stat was 6-3, in favor of the visitors.
Down to 5:40 remaining and Kakko appeared on the box score, as his first SOG was denied by AV.
With 5:15 left on the clock, Brodzinski lost a d-zone draw, but the puck went right to Quick – and where the goaltender lived up to his surname again – as rather than freezing the puck -#32 quickly got the puck out of dodge instead.
However, and no less than twenty-seconds later following a Rangers’ turnover – <DING>, as Kucherov, who TNT was pumping up throughout their pregame show, matched Fox’s ring off of the iron.
As TNT (mainly Boucher) would not stop talking about Tampa being well-rested and how they would soon gas out, AV was able to stop Gustafsson while Kreider gave Tampa a free clear with 3:35 to go. On the next Rangers’ attack, AV stopped the partner of THE GUS BUS, with a big stop on Schneider.
Out of a TV timeout and Edzo then paid his respects to former Rangers’ equipment manager, Tommy Horvath, who passed away over the summer. This was truly heartfelt and you could see how much Horvath meant to Edzo – and especially since Horvath loved the horses like Edzo.
These remarks then turned into talk about other Rangers’ trainers – but not a peep about Jim Ramsay.
I guess TNT got the memo from the Rangers’ powers-to-be.
Come 1:15 remaining and Zibanejad came back to break up a Hedman wind-up from the left circle.
But while this was a defensive good play for Milk Carton Mika – for the money – he has to score too.
While the building didn’t have anything close to a playoff vibe to it, I thought that these two teams played as if it was the postseason – as despite the one <DING> a piece – these first twenty minutes were largely defensively-oriented and had a a few big hits included too.
Scoreless after one – and where the SOG count was 6-5, in favor of Tampa.
And I have to say the following for the millionth time during the past three years:
Man, Lundqvist is such a natural in his second act. If he wanted to do broadcasting full-time (and he’s more than part-time these days too), then he can arguably go into the HOF again as a broadcaster.
Simply stated: He’s excellent at both commentating and with his studio work – and English isn’t even his first language either.
To open the second period, Lundqvist was pulled out of his seat and was forced to work alongside Boucher – and where “THE KING OF COMMENTARY” was happy to do so.
On CZAR IGOR vs. Jonathan Quick, Lundqvist said, “It’s a different game these days. You had starters going 65 or 70 games. For me personally, it was a big deal if I sat two games straight, but that’s not the case anymore. Quick earned this start and it gives Igor a chance to reset a bit.”
This is all stuff that I talked about here – and why Vagistat is the worst back-up goalie in franchise history too: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/2524/
The next words out of Lundqvist’s mouth?
“When he’s [Igor] on it, he doesn’t allow anything to go through. We’re seeing it go through this year… OH YEAH <as Quick stopped Stamkos>. Watching Quickie play this year… and OH YEAH, JIMMY VESEY, MY OLD TEAMMATE!”
What was Lundqvist referring to?
Short side shelf for Jimmy Vesey pic.twitter.com/B7Nfcz1UJ7
— Jonny Lazarus (@JLazzy23) February 8, 2024
1-0, GOOD GUYS, as Jimmy Vesey, who makes one-tenth the salary of Zibanejad and who gets half of his playing time too, absolutely sniped a backhanded puck to the top-shelf corner past AV.
WHAT. A. GOAL.
Lundqvist said that the goal was scored because AV had cheated, as he was expecting Vesey to pass to Goodrow who was crashing the net at the time.
Even so, this was a hell of a goal – especially since we’re so used to seeing these guys shoot wide all the time.
And in a weird way – AND THIS IS ALL EYE-TEST BABY – Goodrow deserved an assist – because if he wasn’t there, then AV would’ve been squared up against Vesey.
But #21, and like #26, did get that +1 next to his name after this goal!
And talk about perfect timing for Lundqvist to make his cameo – he jumps on to do commentary and then gets to call a goal – and then was able to talk about how the goalie let it up.
Can he replace both Vagistat and Micheleti full-time on M$GN?
Following puck drop after the goal, the Rangers, who hemmed the Bolts in their own zone, saw Eyssimont take a penalty when he held Panarin near the boards with 17:55 remaining.
With a chance to score two quick goals – the Rangers’ power-play failed again – somewhat commonplace these days.
It was also around this time when Lundqvist spoke about his heart condition and how he’s happy that he can play charity games today – but in no way could he ever make an NHL comeback.
He also mentioned how Darius Kasperminus ribbed him with a “rookie lap” during the recent Rangers/Islanders alumni game from two weekends ago.
As Mika Zibanejad did nothing on the power-play, Lundqvist and Boucher told some war stories from their Rangers vs. Flyers days.
Once the Rangers went 0-1 on the power-play, Lundqvist’s cameo was through – but we were lucky to have it.
As the broadcast talked about Lundqvist long after he left them, the Rangers’ fourth line continued to apply pressure – and where the SOG stat was now in the home team’s favor, 9-7 and with 14:30 to go.
(I also wonder how non-Ranger fans feel about these TNT broadcasts – because you have to admit it – it’s nothing but a Lundqvist love fest 24/7.)
Boucher did say something telling as the two teams traded chances – “great goalies don’t go into long slumps.”
No less than a nanosecond after those words left his lips – TNT cameras then went to CZAR IGOR who was sitting on the Rangers’ bench.
Down to 13:56 remaining and Goodrow made an excellent shot block as he soccer kicked a puck out of play.
Come 13:05 remaining, and Panarin was dispy-doodling around for a SOG. As that was going on, this unfortunate event took place:
To me it looks like Lafreniere’s right skate blade catches Sergachev in the back of the leg on the reverse hit.
Scary site. pic.twitter.com/OPlUCD1657
— Jonny Lazarus (@JLazzy23) February 8, 2024
Mikhal Sergachev ultimately had to be stretchered off of the ice after taking this reverse hit from Lafreniere.
And what a sad scene, as this was Sergachev’s first game back in seventeen-games.
As Sergachev was being stretchered out, Lafreniere immediately skated to him and expressed his apologies. As the stoppage continued, Lafreniere shook his head as you could see how he was shaken up about it.
You also knew it was bad when Cooper left the bench to go to the tunnel to check on Sergachev.
Cooper, when returned to the bench, covered his mouth as he was talking to his assistants.
For those wondering, and as you can see here, Sergachev did not blame Lafreniere, and chalked this up to bad luck.
Furthermore, Cooper praised the Rangers for how they handled this unfortunate accident.
Best of luck to Sergachev – and where the time-table on this injury hasn’t been revealed.
Despite this heartbreaking incident, as they say – “the show must go on” – and on it went – but with Tampa now down a d-man.
Down to 12:22 remaining and Hagel came up with a big block on Gustafsson, but right after, “THE GUS BUS” got hit in the mouth by a puck being played by Kucherov.
Similar to Sergachev, albeit far less severe, this injury sustained was also accidental.
Gustafsson’s face you ask?
It looked like someone smeared his mouth with the bloodiest tampon that you ever saw.
This was the end of Gustafsson for the rest of the period – but he’d return at the start of the third – and with Goodrow’s old fishbowl helmet over his dome.
Come 10:15 remaining and Panarin perfectly set-up Lafreniere for a one-timer, but you know how that goes these days.
Down to 9:00 remaining and Schneider did a hell of a job to prevent a Point breakaway/one-on-one opportunity against Quick.
As the period progressed, you could feel a sense of calmness from the Rangers’ end, as Tampa wasn’t able to do much – and as their total of nine SOG with 7:00 remaining would suggest.
Panarin set-up Lafreniere again – and yep, you know it – AV came up with a big glove save.
If only 10% of these never-ending chances went in for #13, then Lafreniere would be sitting on 50 goals this season.
As the Rangers’ second line continued to flub every chance imaginable, including a 3 x 2 odd-man rush, AV came up with a save on Trouba with 6:20 to go.
The Rangers’ state of serenity continued, as with 4:45 remaining – Tampa was still stuck on only nine SOG in the game – and just three SOG in the period.
Quick made save #10 with 4:10 remaining – and on a Tampa odd-man rush to boot (Hagel put the SOG).
As AV made a save on Wheeler with 2:45 to go, TNT really started pumping up Quick’s tires some more – and with Quick in net – the Rangers looked like an excellent NFL offense just moving the chains play-by-play – and even with the score at 1-0.
Jonny Brodzinski with an absolute bullet. pic.twitter.com/xUG5t1IN7O
— Jonny Lazarus (@JLazzy23) February 8, 2024
2-0, GOOD GUYS, following JONNY HOCKEY rifling a puck past the greatest goalie of his generation (Vasilevskiy, not Quick!)
Talk about a huge insurance goal too – and one that was later needed.
And as was the case after the first Rangers’ goal, following puck drop, the Bolts were penalized again, and for holding at the boards again too, as this time, Point held Fox.
But in some more deja vu – the Rangers’ power-play failed to score.
2-0, GOOD GUYS, through forty-minutes, and where I was left thinking this:
So the Rangers went from being known for their explosive power-play to now being famously known for their bottom-six even-strength scoring?
The second intermission was dedicated to Sergachev – and how everyone hopes for a fast and healthy return.
And just to say it – the whole panel said that the play was just one of those things that can happen – and how it wasn’t dirty at all.
Prior to both puck drop and the Rangers’ failing on the back-end of their second power-play, we saw John Brancy belt out “NEW YORK, NEW YORK,” followed by a camera shot of former New York Yankee, Doc Gooden.
I never thought that I’d be mentioning both Brancy and Gooden in the same sentence!
We also saw that Gustafsson was back – and wearing Barclay Goodrow’s old fishbowl helmet.
Once returned to the full-strength and there was the Rangers’ fourth line again, pressing the issue.
In a wacky play, a puck was sent to the Rangers’ bench with 18:17 to go – and directly at Gustafsson who had to make the save with his hand – and as TNT called out CZAR IGOR for not blocking the puck himself.
Ouch – and while some of what Boucher and company was saying was in jest – anytime that they could jab CZAR IGOR – they did.
Down to 17:00 remaining, and to speak to the Rangers’ state of peace, Panarin forced a turnover in the d-zone – and while Quick still remained with ten saves to his name.
This then turned into a discussion if Quick should go on Friday night against Chicago – and how Laviolette will have to make a tough decision.
Quick finally made save #11 with 15:41 remaining when he easily stopped Hedman. This once again led to another discussion about how CZAR IGOR should never ever play again by the TNT guys.
With 15:27 to go, AV stopped the useless second-overall pick as the only goals Kakko scores these days are “A-Rod Goals.”
Come 14:31 remaining, Brian Boucher, and for the 963478638748363687634th time during the broadcast, brought up how Tampa was going to hit a wall because this was their first game back from break.
Of course, Boucher forgot that the Lightning may have had Sergachev on their minds.
But no matter, as Boucher channeled his inner Sam Rosen – as no less than one-second after saying this, a SAMMY WHAMMY – or a BONEHEADED BOUCHER, as Hagel skated right through both the Rangers’ first line and a pairing of Gustafsson & Lindgren and then ripped a rocket from the slot.
2-1, good guys – and where you started to worry a bit – or at the very least – you were pissed that Quick had lost his shutout.
And this was noticeable – now returned to a one-goal game and Laviolette rolled out his fourth line as much as possible.
Down to 12:26 remaining and Kucherov absolutely blew past Trouba – but Quick was there to bail out his captain.
If CZAR IGOR was in net…. well let’s not think like that – but the Rangers have been prone to giving up two goals within a times-span of two-minutes or less – and you may have heard about that once or 37463386874368763876348 times before!
After showing us Lundqvist with his kids in the crowd, Boucher, perhaps trying to do some damage control, said it was an unwritten rule that no announcer should ever say the word “shutout” while a goalie has one going.
Someone should pass along that info to Rosen.
As we neared 10:00 remaining, Pitlick came up with a big turnover in the Rangers’ end, thus thwarting a Tampa attack.
After Boucher told us that JONNY HOCKEY could be the Rangers’ third-line center, he then pulled a 180 and said how Drury needs to go out and get one.
Bless Boucher’s heart.
Come 8:30 remaining – and once again – Lafreniere had his THIRD ONE-TIMER chance of the game – and yet again – he couldn’t put the biscuit in the basket after being set-up by The Breadman.
I’d say that this is unbelievable – but is it really?
A minute later? Kakko was stopped too – and that was definitely believable!
After Miller got beat with 7:00 to go (just as credible as the lotto picks not being able to capitalize on their chances), Cirelli, on a 3 x 2 odd-man rush, went wide. Whew.
As Trocheck was tackled and sat on by Hedman for about ten-seconds (no penalty – and where the refs ignored the defenseman ripping off the center’s helmet too), with 5:25 to go – Lafreniere went wide.
Right after that, AV came up with a huge stone job of a save, as he denied Panarin from the low slot.
With 4:38 remaining, Zibanejad, who stinks like his kid’s diapers these days, held Kucherov, thus giving Tampa their first power-play of the game – and during a one-goal game to boot.
But, and for as bad as the power-play has been, the penalty kill has been just as good.
The Rangers’ penalty kill finished a perfect 1-1 tonight – and where they got an assist from Quick’s post too – as Hedman absolutely hammered it at just the thirty-second mark of the Bolts’ power-play.
Surprisingly, and perhaps because he believed his guys would get one last rush – Cooper didn’t pull AV for the 6 x 4 attack.
Now returned to full-strength, and where Lindgren, Quick and the post stood out on the penalty kill, we hit the two-minute warning.
With 1:37 remaining, AV took his seat on the bench for the extra attacker.
And then, and with 1:01 left on the clock – BANG – JIMMY F’N VESEY for the SEE YA, 3-1, GOOD GUYS, GAME OVER GOAL!
3-1, GOOD GUYS, final!
This was a good win, but Mika, and to a lesser extent, Kreider too (what’s it been, two fortnights since his last power-play goal?), need to do something offensively.
Here’s Laviolette after the big two points – and where as a result, and to answer a question posed at the start of the week – YES – the Rangers will remain in first-place come the Superbowl:
One last time (for now) – CZAR IGOR vs. Jonathan Quick.
If the goal is to get CZAR IGOR back on track, then the Chicago Blackhawks, who the Rangers will see next on Friday night in the Windy City, are the most perfect “GET RIGHT” opponent imaginable.
But how do you slow Quick’s roll?
Unless Quick is asking for a powder, then it’s my belief that you go with him until the wheels fall off.
I know that Laviolette will talk about his (tentative) plans and all that – but you also have to be able to adjust – if not at the very least – be aware of what’s going on around you.
It’s also my opinion (and I’ve always been consistent about this), that if a goalie is beating the top teams in the league for you – then why not give him a chance to bolster his stats against a bad team too?
Why should this goalie be “punished,” if you get what I mean?
I’m also not concerned about Quick’s “work load” either, because following Friday night’s match, the Rangers have the weekend off and won’t play again until Monday night (2/12 at M$G vs Calgary).
Deep-down, I think that it’s Lavy’s plan, if not Drury’s too, for CZAR IGOR to get the Stadium Series game against the Islanders on Sunday, 2/18.
And while I’d ride Quick’s hot hand until it cools off (if it ever does), outside of the Flames and Blackhawks, prior to the game at Giants’ Stadium, the Rangers will host another bad team, the Canadiens, on Thursday 2/15.
What I’m trying to say here is that I’d go with Quick on Friday and let him try to extend the winning streak to four in a row – and with two games against rebuilding teams that the Rangers should beat on home ice (and yes – I know that how goes too!) – then CZAR IGOR can start one of those games as he then gets ready to play his first NHL outdoor game.
I NEED SLEEP!
If anything goes down on Thursday, then I’ll return tomorrow night.
If not, then see ya after the Original Six Hawks v. Rangers game on Friday night.
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:
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
NYR/COL 2/5 Review: Jonathan Quick Puts The Rangers On His Back; All Previous Problems Remain the Same, Blueshirts Blessed by Backstops; A Historical Retrospective, Gilles Villemure, Kakko/Ducks Trade Rumors Heating Up; One-Line Blueshirts Need Help ASAP, Bless Sam Rosen’s Heart; Micheletti Massacres Mika, Lundqvist v. Vagistat, M$GN+ & More
Chris Drury Continues to Play Tom Petty’s “Waiting is the Hardest Part;” Chytil’s LTIR Cap Space Still Not Addressed, The “Rangers’ Refresher,” NHL All-Star Weekend Thoughts; Maybe a Blueshirt Should Date Bieber, Upcoming NYR/PHI Watch Party, “LAVY’S LOUNGE” From Tarrytown, First-Place On The Line; Upcoming Schedule & 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