Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. I don’t even know where to start! I’m giddy like Jim Carrey at the end of “Dumb and Dumber!” In fact, I also feel “Numb and Number” myself too!
Let me belt this out before beginning – “WHAT. A. WIN!”
On Saturday night, following an official-marred loss to the Islanders just 48 hours prior; the Rangers traveled to Tampa, Florida, aka “Title Town,” and knocked off the two-time reigning and defending Stanley Cup Champions by a final score of 2-1.
For all of the naysayers (both Ranger fans and non-Ranger fans alike), doubters who continue to berate these Rangers whenever they can; the Blueshirts have now completed a three-game regular season sweep of the Bolts – where need I remind you, the Lightning have won the Stanley Cup twice during the past two seasons and are currently primed for a third.
Perhaps even better than that? These foolish imps, hockey simpletons who hump analytical charts with all of the force of an overhand right from Ryan Reaves; these disgusting cretins who will make “excuses” in order to explain the Rangers previous two wins over the Lightning – they can’t make one excuse tonight.
(And while I know that the Rangers shut up these bozos tonight, I’m sure these mooks will try to “explain away” this win too. It’s what these “heat map” morons do. Worse than that? These dingle-berries will be salivating the next time the Rangers lose. These “fans” are diseased.)
During the Rangers’ last two wins over the Lightning, people with their head in the sand (you know the “but, but, but” type), would bring up injuries and/or COVID. Rather than being happy about the pair of wins – these wackos tried to downplay these victories.
In Saturday night’s win over the Lightning, none of that stuff applies.
The Rangers beat a 100% healthy Lightning squad at their best, and a Tampa team that had just acquired additional help in the form of Brandon Hagel.
Want more? This was the Rangers’ first regulation win in Tampa since the 2014-15 season – as in eight years ago.
It took a complete sixty minute effort to log these two points in the standings, and while perhaps the power-play (1-6) left much to be desired – the Rangers got their power-play goal when it mattered the most – with just sixteen seconds left in regulation, via a Mika Zibanejad blast from the office.
Sure, it’s only one game. And yes, I do tend to go overboard following big wins. However, why shouldn’t I? Every Ranger fan should be proud of this win – a win where this game had it all, including the following:
— CZAR IGOR winning a goaltender’s duel with Andrei Vasileskiy as the opponent, a battle featuring the two best goaltenders in all of the NHL today.
— A game winning and electric power-play goal.
— Another well-placed timeout by head coach Gerard Gallant, in order to set-up the game winning goal.
— A complete effort from everyone on the roster, where the bottom-six were most noticeable, and where the top six (“FAT CATS”) scored the goals.
— Ryan Reaves defending a teammate, where “THE GRIM REAVER” defeated Patty “Three Cups” Maroon in a game of fisticuffs.
— Showing up big-time during not only a game that had a playoff vibe to it; but a game that prevented the Rangers from the possibility of enduring a three-game losing streak just less than 24 hours later, when they arrive in Raleigh, North Carolina to play the first-place Hurricanes.
If you follow me on the tweeter machine (as I use Twitter as my online notebook when composing these blogs); at one point during the third period, I said, “win or lose, the Rangers played their heart out and I’m happy with this effort.”
Of course, during a playoff push and/or run, you’re no longer worried about “moral victories.” And had the Rangers lost this game, I’d probably be talking about “moral victories” tonight.
The Rangers not only received an imaginary “moral victory” tonight, even better than that – they received a “REAL VICTORY.” That’s what matters the most.
Not only did the Rangers keep pace with the Pittsburgh Penguins, as the two teams jockey for second-place in the division – the Rangers also created breathing room as a top three team in the Metro, as the Washington Capitals are currently nipping at their heels.
And should the Rangers follow up this win with an even bigger win over Carolina tomorrow night? The Rangers will reclaim second-place in the division, and will only trail the first-place Canes by three points.
However, I’ll stop here, as I don’t want to get too ahead of myself! Let’s enjoy this game first and then look forward to the game with Carolina!
I know I’ve been absolutely nauseating at hammering this point home during the past few weeks, but it does bear repeating once again – YOU HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL MONDAY TO FULLY ASSESS THIS ROSTER.
That said, in another one of Drury’s depth-trades, the general manager plucked Vatrano from the cash-strapped Panthers, and in turn, we’ve seen the trickle-down effect work wonders.
With Vatrano currently on the second line (and forever as long as that may be), it allows both Barclay Goodrow and Dryden Hunt to return to their natural roles as bottom-six/third line players.
And just as Goodrow and Hunt did on Thursday night (despite the loss), and with Filip Chytil in the middle; once again, this third line trio, like a summer day in Tampa – shone ever so brightly.
I can’t rave enough about Goodrow/Chytil/Hunt tonight.
Sure, Igor was phenomenal as usual, and sure Zibanejad scored a “Disney Finish” goal too; but without a shadow of a doubt, it was the third line that carried the Rangers.
Rarely, did you the Goodrow, Chytil and Hunt line chase around the Bolts tonight. Instead, they were doing the attacking.
More impressive than that? The third line were paired against Tampa’s top line all-game, a Lightning first-line that employs some serious heavy hitters, and two-time Stanley Cup champs at that – Alex Killorn, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
While Goodrow was once part of this Tampa team (he’s a two-time Cup winner himself); and while Hunt has plenty of NHL experience – in my eyes, no one needed a performance like this more so than Filip Chytil.
I don’t know if Chytil will be dealt at the deadline or not. I will say that if he is, he’s coming off two of his better games of the 2021-22 campaign.
For the first time all-season, Chytil finally looks like an accomplished center and he’s benefited from the team finally trading for help, after the injury to Sammy Blais.
There’s so much to get into tonight, and no rest for the weary either – as the Rangers, as I type these words, are currently on a flight to Raleigh.
(By the time I publish this manifesto, they are probably inside of a North Carolina hotel room!)
At this time, let’s get into the NEWS segment (and as you know by now, there’s a lot of news to get into, especially regarding NHL trades), followed by everything else, including the main event – the GAME REVIEW.
Before jumping into the Rangers news – let’s quickly take a look at some of the trades made around the league on Saturday.
Perhaps the biggest catch of this year’s NHL Trade Deadline was the captain of the Flyers, Claude Giroux. The man of a thousand games in orange-and-black, along with Connor Bunnaman, was traded to the Florida Panthers on Saturday afternoon, in exchange for Owen Tippett, a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 first-round pick.
Of all the 32 teams in the NHL today, Florida has to be in “all-in” mode. This trade was an example of that.
Prior to the trade, the only other team that seemed to be in serious contention for Giroux’s services were the Colorado Avalanche.
On paper, this looks like a great trade for both parties, as Giroux gets a chance at the Stanley Cup, while the rebuilding Flyers fill their cupboard with a strong prospect and high-end draft picks.
The Boston Bruins, who will always be in “gotta be in it to win it” mode, especially with the “Perfection Line” now closer to their end than to their beginning; made a huge splash for themselves on Saturday too.
The Bruins traded a 2022 first-round pick, a 2023 second-round pick, a 2024 second-round pick, John Moore and Urho Vaakanainen to the Anaheim Ducks, in exchange for Hampus Lindholm and Kodie Curran.
It’s believed that the Ben Chiarot trade, previously made between the Panthers and Canadiens (talked about last blog), has upped the price for rentals. This trade between Sam Malone’s favorite team, and the team that’s no longer mighty, is clearly an example of that.
I understand Boston’s thinking of trying to bolster their roster, but I don’t see them as a true Stanley Cup contender. To be fair, I say that about them every season! This time – I mean it!
In another deal from Saturday involving the Ducks; general manager Pat Verbeek sent Nicolas Deslauriers to the Wild, in exchange for a 2023 third-round pick.
For a team that promotes a hashtag of #FlyTogether – the Ducks have embraced “duckling” mode, and have moved on from some of their elder gaggle.
Let’s now get into the Ranger news.
Following the loss to the officials on Thursday night, the Rangers took Friday off and then traveled to Tampa, Florida.
On Saturday morning, Frank Vatrano took his first practice with the Rangers, where following the light skate, head coach Gerard Gallant spoke to the media.
Here’s “The Turk”:
Once again, Gallant preached his mantra of “one game at a time,” and said that he looked forward to these two tough tests with Tampa and Carolina.
When asked if he thought these two games would define his team, Gallant quickly brushed off that line of questioning and said he knows who his team is. I liked that answer.
Gallant also made sure to stress that the Rangers haven’t clinched a playoff spot yet, and still have to “work hard,” where the two words of “work hard” is a phrase that Gallant often reiterates to the media.
As far as anything else, Double G. said that CZAR IGOR would be starting against Tampa. After saying that, the bench boss followed up with, “I guess Georgiev is going to play tomorrow.”
For what it’s worth, while Gallant pretty much said that Georgiev would play against Carolina, he didn’t 100% confirm it either.
(And while I will understand if Georgiev goes tomorrow, I really hope that isn’t the case!)
As we all await to see whatever final touches general manager Chris Drury puts on the Rangers’ roster; on Saturday, there were reports coming out of the Great White North, where Alexis Lafreniere’s name has been linked to Chicago, in a possible trade of Patrick Kane and/or Alex Debrincat.
When I first heard these rumors, I immediately brushed them off, because after all, this time of year nearly promotes more bullshit than an arts-and-crafts chart made by Steve Valiquette.
However, since some of the top reporters of the Canadian NHL beat were putting this talk out there, it meant that these rumors had legs – even if in my eyes, these legs were shorter than the stems of “Beetlejuice” from the “Howard Stern Show.”
As everyone and their mother were talking about this potential trade of Lafreniere (where again, I don’t envision him being traded at all); Larry Brooks, of the New York Post, debunked these rumors, stating that he was told by a high-level source that there were was nothing even remotely truthful about these rumors at all.
In my eyes, I had three immediate takeaways from Brooks’ report.
One – I bet Chris Drury was Brooks’ source.
Two – I bet Drury wanted it out there that he wasn’t trading Lafreniere, just so he could put #13’s mind at ease.
Three – I rarely do the fantasy GM stuff on this site, but I couldn’t help myself. Can you imagine a three-way trade, with Chicago and Arizona included, where the Rangers land Patrick Kane, Alex Debrincat, Jacob Chycrun and Phil Kessel for some sort of package of picks, prospects, Filip Chytil, Vitali Kravtsov, Libor Hajek and/or Patrik Nemeth?
Under this proposed (and never-happening) pipe-dream scenario, I’d have the Rangers assume all of Kane’s cap hit and real money for the remainder of this season, and then split his 2022-23 hit with both Chicago and Arizona.
Again – this is fantasy and not reality.
And yep – I can’t wait for 3PM Monday, so we can stop thinking, debating and drumming up stuff, and instead – talk about what is.
Here’s what “The Turk” went with for this Phil Esposito themed “Battle at the Bay.”
FIRST LINE: Kreider/Mika/Lafreniere
SECOND LINE: Panarin/Strome/Vatrano
THIRD LINE: Goodrow/Chytil/Hunt
FOURTH LINE: McKegg/Brodzinski/Reaves
Defensively, we had this:
FIRST D-PAIR: Lindgren/Fox
SECOND D-PAIR: Miller/Trouba
THIRD D-PAIR: Nemeth/Schneider
And in net, CZAR IGOR
BOX SCORE time.
The following information and graphics come from the new world-wide leader in NHL coverage, ESPN.com:
Tonight’s tilt was broadcasted on ABC/ESPN, which meant that we didn’t get a thousand “OH JOE’s” and/or 67896868686869 comments about who is related to who either.
It also meant that we didn’t get a pregame show.
For whatever reason, ABC/ESPN pays Mark Messier and Chris Chelios (who looks like he fell asleep in a tanning bed) for about six minutes of in-between periods work. I guess that’s great work if you can get it! I envy them!
Unfortunately, it also meant that we had to deal with ABC/ESPN’s way of showcasing what they can do, with about 78967867899679689696 unorthodox camera angles that must have led to thousands of epileptic seizures across the hockey world.
I guess #HOCKEYISFOREVERYONE, including epileptics!
I know I’ve said the following a few times, but real quick, just one more time, as I need to purge this out of my system:
— These never-ending camera shots feels like something out of “The Blair Witch Project,” and other low-budget horror movies like it. To make up for a lack of a production budget (which is not the case for ESPN), B-level horror movies always have 76786789678969 jump-cuts, in an attempt to increase the suspense. Why ESPN must go from angle-to-angle when play is going on is beyond me.
— At times, it was tough to track the puck and follow this game. Within the first ten minutes alone, because of these seizure-inducing camera angle changes, you missed three shots on goal, a shot attempt that just missed, and a penalty.
— It gets even worse during the power-play, as whoever is changing these camera angles in-progress is like a drunk on a roller coaster. You just get dizzy. It truly is violently puking inducing.
— I know that ESPN is proud of their technology, but save that shit for replays. Don’t fix what’s not broken.
— At one point or another, the Epileptic Seizure Provider Network (ESPN) must realize that hockey isn’t football. In football, you can do all of these camera angles/shots, because there are forty seconds between plays, plays that last about four seconds or so on average.
— Simply put – you can’t shoot hockey, a non-stop action sport, in the same fashion that you can shoot football, a sport that has a ton of downtime. (Every NHL game is sixty minutes of action. Conversely, every NFL game is about twelve minutes of action.)
And that wraps up my thoughts on this broadcast, where without question, TNT has done an infinitely better job with their NHL television rights package than ESPN has done with theirs.
Let’s get into the GAME REVIEW!
In the past during games at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, the crowd was a mix of both Ranger and Lightning fans – where more times than not, you saw more supporters of the road-team than of the home-team.
Tonight, it was probably a 50-50 mix, where this was most apparent during the latter stages of the game, between “IGOR! IGOR! IGOR!” and “LET’S GO RANGERS!” chants. And of course, we also heard the obligatory, if not mandatory, “POTVIN SUCKS!” chant too.
The first few minutes of this game were hairy, as following Mika’s opening faceoff draw victory over Anthony Cirelli; Tampa quickly raced out to a 5-0 SOG advantage, and where just twenty seconds into the contest – Igor had to deny a Point-to-Cirelli attempt, from nearly a foot away from his paint.
After Igor stopped Brandon Hagel (who leads the league with a 22% shooting percentage, which I believe is 21.9% better than the shooting percentage of healthy scratch Julien Gauthier – or as Jim S. & Eddie G. of “The Blueshirt Underground Show” call him – “Julien Go Away”); at the 4:30 mark, it looked like Hunt recorded the first Ranger shot on goal. However, due to these inane camera angles, it was only until replay, that we saw that #29 pushed the puck wide. In either event, this was just one of many examples of the third line dictating the pace.
Thirty seconds after Hunt’s attempt; Goodrow recorded the Rangers first SOG.
At the 5:50 mark, the Rangers received their first of six different power-plays in this match; following a delay of game penalty, as Victor Hedman put the puck over the glass. During this penalty, ESPN decided to shoot this play from the last row in the building, so again, we didn’t see what happened until we saw a replay.
I don’t want to kick and begrudge the Rangers 1-6 power-play tonight, because after all, when it mattered most, the power-play got the job done – even if it took until the last second of the last power-play to do so.
Plus, the power-play has been superb all season. No power-play is perfect during all 82 games.
That said, the Rangers power-play (second-best in the league going into this game), and who most certainly were “off” on this night (and give credit to Tampa’s penalty kill too, a PK that has served them well during the last four seasons) – only put four shots on goal during these six power-plays. But hey – at least the scored on the fourth!
The Rangers didn’t do much on this first power-play, although Fox at least tried to put the puck on net.
Back at full-strength, both goalies had five saves a piece with ten minutes remaining. As many expected going into this game – the two elite goalies lived up to the hype, and put on one hell of a goaltender’s duel.
Following two consecutive d-zone faceoff losses by the Rangers (and two quick saves for Igor too); the Rangers had their best five-vs-five chance at this point of the game, as Goodrow passed the vulcanized rubber to Lafreniere, the first overall pick then fed Braden Schneider, and after Vasilevskiy stopped the youngest Ranger – Lafreniere was right there for a rebound.
For whatever reason, with six minutes and change remaining; Emily Kaplan told us that Brayden Point eats “Subway” sandwiches. This felt like a sponsored/paid content type of a plug. It was also meaningless to bring up.
After all – it’s not like Kaplan or ESPN brought up whatever the other 39 players dressed for this game were eating.
(I can just hear Sam Rosen now. “OH JOE, ALEXANDAR GEORGIEV JOE! HE SURE LOVES HIS WAWA ITALIAN CLASSIC SUBS. <MOOOOOOOO!>”)
(Of course, this would then be followed up by, “SAM, WAWA IS FABULOUS, BUT I’M A SHEETZ MAN MYSELF – AFTER ALL, HAVE YOU SEEN MY UNDERWEAR? NOT SO FABULOUS SAM!”)
Alas, I digress!
After a Strome attempt to center a puck to Vatrano with 6:46 to go; over two minutes later, with 4:20 on the clock, Patrik Nemeth blatantly tripped Mathieu Joseph, but for whatever reason, this infraction was labeled as interference. No matter – the end result was still the same – a Tampa power-play.
Of note, following Nemeth’s trip, the bottom-six players on the Bolts spent over a minute in the Rangers zone, where Igor made two saves during this time, and the Lightning went high-and-wide on two others.
On the first faceoff of the PK, the Rangers lost the draw. Four seconds later, CZAR IGOR mimicked an in-his-prime Derek Jeter, where he made a quick flash of the cow. (Or “Bessie,” as reader Geo would say!)
61 seconds into the power-play, and with 3:19 remaining – Tampa got their fluke goal.
On the goal, Tampa had swarmed Igor. Igor then sat on a puck, but for whatever reason, and despite the officials not seeing the puck – they decided not to blow the metal apparatus in their hands.
As Igor sat up, Brayden Point pushed a puck through Igor’s legs for the goal. 1-0, bad guys.
I will say, I’ve always been a proponent of seeing these plays play themselves out, and then leave it to review to see what’s what. In other words, I’m pro “GAME ON.”
However, 99/100 times – you’ll see a play like this blown dead.
For whatever reason, the refs let this go on, despite not seeing the puck for a good five seconds there, where five seconds is a long amount of time. This just happened to be the one-in-a-hundred play, where the refs just let this go.
The officials did review the goal, but since they never blew the whistle, there was really nothing to review. Gallant was freaking irate about this, where he shouted a few four-letter words towards the zebras.
And had this game finished up as 1-0, it would’ve been a travesty. That said, with six Ranger power-plays in this game, and perhaps a missed call mixed-in as well – you can’t get on the officials for this.
Reaction to this goal was mixed, including from the ESPN analysts and from other hockey pundits.
To me, this was a good goal, but also a case of a fluke/bad puck luck bounce, and a rare instance where the refs swallowed their whistle.
In other words – I’m not upset about this being allowed, especially after a Rangers win! (To be fair, I did say all of this in real-time too!)
With under a minute remaining, CZAR IGOR made two quick saves on Killorn. Then, with just one tick remaining, the ’22 Vezina winner made a glove save on Cirelli – Igor’s fifteenth and final save of the period.
Funny enough, during the next thirty minutes of play, he’d only have to make five more, as the Rangers really buckled down during the final forty.
1-0, bad guys, after one period.
Once again, the Rangers, who lead the league in comebacks, would have to find one more. And that’s just what they did, as Tampa would never score again.
The Rangers opened up the second period with a SOG drought of five minutes and thirty seconds. They’d extend it to nearly nine minutes.
After Point won the first draw of the period, Artemi Panarin soon had the GRADE A chance of all GRADE A chances, when he was dead-center and two feet away from #88 in Tampa “Stadium Series” white. Somehow, “The Breadman” went wide.
I think Mark Messier later said this during the second intermission, and I thought this was a great point – elite goaltenders create doubt, and instead of doing his normal thing – #10 in blue overthought this shot, and instead of scoring a sure-fire goal, had an embarrassing moment.
2:07 into the period, Ross Colton took a two-minute hike after hooking Goodrow.
The Rangers received a 3 vs 1 odd-man rush during this power-play. This time Panarin got the puck on net, but he hesitated before shooting, which then allowed Vasilevskiy to ready-up.
Worse than that, Fox hooked Joseph near the corner boards to the right of Tampa’s goaltender, which as a result, meant that we’d have 1:11 of foreplay, followed by 49 seconds of a Lightning man-advantage.
And yep (and thank you Captain Obvious) – had Panarin scored on either of these opportunities, it’s a different hockey game. At least “The Breadman” would come up huge during clutch time.
During the 4×4, K’Andre Miller, who remains noticeable physically, prevented a Tampa odd-man rush.
Once returned to full-strength, Hedman laid a big, yet clean, hit on Goodrow. Goodrow smiled and laughed about it afterwards, most likely because he’s good friends with his former teammate of two Stanley Cup wins.
With 14:12 to go, Schneider took a two-minute time-out, after interfering with Corey Perry.
The Rangers penalty kill was fantastic here, as the Keg Man, Greg McKegg, cleared the puck twice.
Following back-to-back Vasilevskiy saves on Vatrano and Chytil (two great saves at that); with 10:35 remaining, this happened:
— Rangers Videos (@SNYRangers) March 20, 2022
This goal was very reminiscent of the first goal of the game, as a player was right in front of the goaltender, and then scored from a foot or two away. This also tells you how well both teams played defensively too, as it was tough to greet a goalie face-to-face in this game, that is except for Maroon.
This goal was reviewed, as prior to Trouba scoring, Hunt won a net-front battle with former Rangers’ captain Ryan McDonagh. This allowed Trouba to walk right in and push the puck home.
Jon Cooper’s goal review challenge failed, as the goal was soon upheld. This also meant that the Rangers would receive a power-play too. The less said about this SOG-less PP, a PP that the Rangers couldn’t string two passes together on, the better!
With 6:23 remaining, Lindgren was boarded. No call. However, what was called, was an interference call on Maroon, as with Igor behind his own net and playing the puck, Maroon viciously checked the Russian netminder. Lindgren jumped to action right away, and tried to fight Maroon. The refs broke this up.
The end result – off-setting roughing penalties for Maroon and Lindgren, and an extra two minutes on Maroon for the cowardly hit on Igor.
Leave it to me to emulate Sieve Vagistat, and tell a “hockey war story” of my own here, but I think you will get a chuckle out of this one.
During my horrible days as a high school hockey player; where I think my team finished 2-22 in my final season; we once played a team where their goalie was overcoming cancer. (I want to say he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma.)
(For those wondering – I was a horrible “stay at home” defenseman, where more times than not, my head coach probably wished that I had stayed at home, and not shown up. In fact, some of you guys know my dad. If you ever see him in-person, and then ask him about my days as a hockey player; if you can wait five-to-ten minutes after he’s finished laughing, he then can tell you all about it! If you can wait an hour, he can then tell you about our goalie and his 20.13 GAA.)
I should also be clear and say this before continuing this story – this then seventeen year old goalie would ultimately beat cancer. Last I heard, he’s fine and his cancer has been in remission for nearly the last twenty-five years.
As we were getting crushed by some ungodly score, and obviously fed-up with all of the losing (we were mainly horrible because my town didn’t have a hockey league until we hit high school. However, the teams we played against had been playing together since elementary school); our heavily-assed defenseman saw this goalie, who was almost finished winning his battle with cancer, playing a puck behind his own net.
What happened next? Yep, you guessed it – our big-boned blue liner leveled this kid.
Keep in mind – everyone knew about this kid’s battle with cancer, including every player, coach and official. Also aware of this fight against cancer were the hundred-or-so parents in the stands.
To this day, and as I write these words, I can still see all of this in my mind, and clear as day at that.
This play felt like one of those slow-motion “NOOOOOOOOOOOO” scenes that you’d see in comedy movie.
As the goaltender went to play the puck, our defenseman just absolutely blind-sided him with a monster truck of a hit. The goalie was probably down for only ten seconds – but in real-time, it may as well have been an eternity.
I can still hear the parents gasping! It was like watching a car accident taking place three feet away from you.
Want more drama? Not only was the mother of our defenseman in the crowd; his father was our head coach too!
The end result?
Our d-man was booted from the game, forced to apologize, held out of another game, and eventually returned to help our team finish the season at 2-22. The goaltender was fine, never missed a beat, and as stated – won a bigger game than this one – his fight with cancer.
I know we live in a world of “HOT TAKES” and instant gratification, but within .01 seconds after Maroon’s attack of Igor; social media was lit up with such nonsense as:
— “IF RYAN REAVES DOESN’T FIGHT MAROON – HE’S A PUSSY, HE’S A COWARD, HE HAS TO BE CUT…” and blah blah blah.
— “HOW COULD REAVES ALLOW THIS? TAMPA ISN’T SCARED OF HIM!”
I could go on-and-on here, but this blog is long enough already and I think you get the point. That said, until Reaves finally went toe-to-toe with Maroon, the doubt that some Ranger fans had was remarkable.
To paraphrase the great Axl Rose – “all we need is a little patience…. PATIENCE!”
Anyway, now back on the power-play, the Rangers didn’t register a SOG again.
Now back at full-strength; with 2:50 to go, Vasilevskiy stopped Hunt. Both goalies had twenty saves to their name at this point.
With 58.9 seconds remaining, Mika tried to split Killorn and Hedman. Killorn hooked #93, and in turn, the Rangers now had their fifth power-play of this game.
1-1 after forty minutes, in a game where the Rangers were holding their own with one of the best teams of the past 3-4 seasons.
After the Rangers failed to score on their 1:01 worth of power-play time to open the period; the team continued to play strong and solid defensively. It looked like the Rangers were the better team for the majority of the game, but they couldn’t find the go-ahead goal. At least Tampa didn’t either!
With about seventeen minutes to go, we saw Reaves and Perry jaw-jacking on the bench. A minute later, at the 4:02 mark of the final frame, Reaves then dropped the gloves with Maroon.
Reaves won this fight, even if neither man dropped to the ice. #75 in blue landed more offense and peppered Maroon with some heavy rights, even with the refs trying to stifle the damage that Reaves was trying to inflict.
After Reaves won this fight, I was hoping that he’d next challenge whoever was in charge of these camera angles!
The fight helped the Rangers to retain their momentum, as right after this fight, Goodrow laid a big hit on Rutta.
Seven minutes down – Tampa didn’t have one SOG in the period.
However, with 12:52 to go, CZAR IGOR, as he has done so many times before, made another HIGHLIGHT REEL SAVE, where this time, he stopped Bellemare. This is when you heard the “IGOR, IGOR, IGOR!” chants.
With 11:09 to go, Vasilevskiy matched Igor’s big-balls save, where he stopped a Miller-to-Vatrano deflection attempt.
As we neared ten minutes remaining, Lindgren may have hooked Kucherov on a breakaway. At the very least, we’ve seen these calls before. Fortunately, we didn’t see such a call here.
As we started working our way down to the end of the regulation, each goalie continued to make saves, while both teams fought for every inch of the ice.
With about five minutes to go (FOXWOODS!), the ESPN crew parroted what I was saying all game – the Rangers third line was the best trio of forwards of the contest.
As the clock went tick-tick-tick and approached triple zeroes, I was thinking one thing – I hope the Rangers at least get to overtime, because they deserved a point in the standings for this tremendous effort. They wouldn’t need the bonus period.
With just 2:15 remaining, Zibanejad found Kreider sprung for a breakaway. Accidentally, Cernak high-sticked Kreider. The Rangers then received their sixth power-play of the game, where if they didn’t score, they most likely would’ve received a point in the standings, due to the time left on the clock.
Gallant called a timeout prior to the power-play, in order to give his PP1 unit a breather. The timeout looked like it was for naught, as for 1:59 of this Rangers man-advantage, the Tampa PK were absolutely smothering. As you may know – every second counts!
With just one second left on the power-play, and sixteen seconds left in regulation too; this happened:
WITH 16 SECONDS LEFT 😱
Mika Zibanejad wins it for the Rangers! pic.twitter.com/82fg5HtHLr
— ESPN (@espn) March 20, 2022
2-1, GOOD GUYS, FOLLOWING A PERFECT LONG-DISTANCE CROSS-ICE PASS FROM ARTEMI PANARIN TO MIKA ZIBANEJAD IN THE OFFICE!
What can I say? After years of seeing the Rangers on the other end of a play like this; this time, it were the Blueshirts on the right end of this equation.
Tampa took a timeout after the goal. They also pulled Vasilevskiy. No matter, as the Rangers held on and won this exciting playoff-vibe thriller of a game!
One more time – WHAT. A. WIN!
As I write these words very late into the wee hours of Sunday morning, I can only imagine what Gallant said in his post-game. I’ll watch it once I hit publish button!
Everyone, including the players, the GM, the coaching staff and the fans too – they all have to be over-the-moon with this win.
Of course, it’s one win out of 82-games. Let’s just hope that the Rangers ride this feeling into tomorrow night, and stomp out the Canes!
The hardcover version of my book, available now at Amazon.com
The first plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my new 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 2 signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:
Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:
NYR/NYI 3/17 Review: Live from M$G! NHL Officials Ruin an Amazing Goaltender’s Duel & Entertaining Game; No Luck of the Irish for the Rangers, CK40, Frank Vatrano Trade, A Poor Soul with Brown Stains, DQ, Holland, Trade Market Heating Up, The Garden is Back & More
NYR/ANA 3/15 Review: Adam Fox Says “Et Tu” & “FU” to Anaheim on “The Ides of March;” Rangers Snipe Ducks, Panarin Bakes, Kreider Rakes, Offense Awakes; Georgiev Finally Gets a W, Gov. Hochul, Women’s Night, NYR Ticket Prices & More
NYR/DAL 3/12 Review: Rangers Score a TD & Kick the XP in “Jerry’s World,” Multi-Point Games Galore; CZAR IGOR, Panarin, Nemeth’s GWG, Gallant Pushes Right Buttons Again; Line-Up Changes, The Unusual Suspects, Jerseys, M$GN, Standings & More
NYR/STL 3/10 Review: Rangers Get Blue Balled in Worst Loss of the Season – But Don’t Jump off of the Bridge; Help is on the Way, Gallant Calls Out Team with the “S” Word, Igor, Georgiev, Gauthier, Bass Reeves, Isle Tix, Gilbert Tribute Game, RIP Howell, Duguay, M$GN/Vally & More
If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:
Up next: one final game before the NHL Trade Deadline, as the Rangers take on the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh on Sunday. Of note, the game has a rare start time of 6PM.
As always here, thanks for reading and…
LET’S GO RANGERS!