Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. And we’re back.
In what I found to be funny, was that prior to the Rangers vs Senators game from this past Thursday night, I was enjoying a few pops with Dancin’ Larry and my dad at “The Mollie Wee.” As my dad expressed his amazement to Mr. D. Larry – about how he can handle his booze – and then dance without falling on his behind three hours later – was Larry’s response:
“I need a break!”
When Larry said those four words, he wasn’t talking about his own pregame and third period rituals at M$G. Instead, he was accurately summing up both the Rangers and the fan base – we all needed a break.
(At least I know that I did – as I had to ice my fingers after covering all of the mania from the last few weeks! My butt from sitting in this computer chair has only now started to regain its feeling too! The more you know!)
For the last several weeks, the Rangers have played nothing but back-to-backs and three games in four nights. Compounding matters was both the salary cap and the trade deadline, where as you already know, were heavily influenced by Chris Drury’s decision to go all-in for Patrick Kane – even if the trade itself wasn’t a textbook definition of “all-in.”
(In other words – the general manager didn’t give up much in return for the greatest American-born player of league history. It’s not like he gave up his captain and a bevy of first-round draft picks – as Glen Sather once did in 2014 for Martin St. Louis.)
Between the Miller suspension and the club’s daily battles with the salary cap – and what transpired because of it – benching players and not being able to recall anyone either – needless to say – it’s been a hectic few weeks in Rangerstown, USA.
As a result, and some may say this is an “excuse” too – the Rangers haven’t looked very hot – and all of this took place following the team’s season-high seven-game winning streak!
Of course, and as I’ve been saying (and as “THE TURK” would later say today – his interview is included below); this temporary hiccup is just that – a hiccup.
Sure, everyone who collects a check from the franchise (and the fans too), would love to see the team go 82-0 – but as you’re well aware of – no team goes flawless during an NHL season.
Heck, even the Boston Bruins have lost to the Arizona Coyotes during this 2022-23 campaign! Imagine that!
However, when you break it all down, the NHL regular season is just a six-month “class session” – where once the final horn blares at the end of game 82 – BOOM – the final exam – the only games that matter – the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
While perhaps the Rangers may have posted some failing grades lately (and the success rate of their power-play sure has); come the playoffs – none of these recent losses will mean a damn thing.
There are only two things that matter as we now enter the team’s final nineteen games of the schedule.
The first thing is to make sure that they maintain their playoff berth, where as of this writing, the experts in Vegas have posted a 98.5% guarantee on the Blueshirts to reach the postseason.
The second thing? Figure it out now, take your lumps (and experiment) if you have to – and once that “2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs” logo is painted on M$G ice – BE READY – and then go on to win sixteen games.
Of course, that’s all easier said than done – and four Stanley Cups in 97 years will attest to that – but what’s a better time than the present to finally win the long overdue fifth chalice of franchise history?
The road to the Cup begins now – where it may be more rockier than smooth – but this is the time to improve your vehicle for the rougher roads that lay ahead.
Prior to Tuesday’s practice held in Tarrytown, NY; the Rangers officially announced the following three things:
— Ryan Lindgren remains “day-to-day” – but he did skate on his own earlier on Tuesday morning. As Gallant would later say following the practice – it’s unknown when he’ll return – but the fact that he’s skating is encouraging.
— Tyler Motte, where some people have already reported (not 100% confirmed) that he received a concussion following the assault committed on him by the Senators’ Austin Watson; the now two-time Ranger was with the team – but wore a non-contact jersey instead of his usual threads.
This news was also encouraging – but if he did suffer a concussion as many believe (the league, nor their teams, never comment on the “c-word”) – you can never tell when a player will return, as everyone heals/recovers differently.
— JONNY HOCKEY, the new father of two, has left his digs in Hartford and is now back in New York.
Due to the Motte injury, and the Rangers playing short-handed last Saturday afternoon – the club is now allowed to recall players for emergency purposes. Depending on how long Motte is out – Brodzinski may remain with the team the whole way – as there’s a chance that the club could accrue enough cap space to keep him around.
In any event, I’d expect Brodzinksi to be one of the team’s “BLACK ACES” come the postseason.
In other roster news that was already known, K’Andre Miller, following his three-game suspension, was back too.
The return of #79 means that the Rangers are now back to carrying six defensemen, so a rearguard recall from Hartford wasn’t possible/available.
Furthermore, should Lindgren be able to return during the team’s upcoming three-game road-trip; then I believe that Gallant’s decision on who plays with Braden Schneider, which boils down to Niko Mikkola versus Ben Harpur, will be tougher than it once was following the trade with St. Louis.
The lines and pairings that Gallant went with on Tuesday, a line-up that we’ll most likely see on Thursday night in Montreal, were pretty much expected.
Also expected? The head coach tinkering around with his power-play units – and that was the real big news from the practice.
For the record, here was the 12F/6D/2G line-up – an orthodox line-up that we haven’t seen in a while!
FIRST LINE: Kreider/Mika/Tarasenko
SECOND LINE: Panarin/Trocheck/Kane
THIRD LINE: Lafreniere/Chytil/Kakko
FOURTH LINE: Vesey/Brodzinski/Goodrow
FIRST PAIR: Miller/Trouba
SECOND PAIR: Mikkola/Fox
THIRD PAIR: Harpur/Schneider
STARTING GOALIE: CZAR IGOR
BACK-UP GOALIE: THE HALAKNESS MONSTER
The power-play units, where perhaps above all else, needed the two days off, and the two full days of practice too, looked like this:
Once again, it should be stated that the Rangers, especially following the trade for Kane, don’t exactly have true “first” and “second” power-play units anymore.
In other words, the days of the first power-play unit eating the bulk of the time, only for the second unit to come on for ten-to-twenty seconds, are gone.
Instead, the Rangers now have “1A” and “1B” units – where depending on the flow and the situation of any particular game – either of these quintets can take the ice.
At first glance, it’s obvious what the head coach is doing – he’s using his first and second lines, his top six, on each separate unit.
While this is NOT a criticism, this is just an observation – it was interesting to see Fox line-up with the Panarin line, rather than the Mika line – only because Fox has played more with Mika and Kreider.
But of course, Fox is the best defenseman on the team – so it makes sense that this would be the case.
And knowing the way he plays – of the ten players listed here – he’s most likely the one who will stay on for the full two-minutes, if needed.
Another observation – and NOT a criticism – is that Trouba remains on the power-play, while Miller sits.
However, I wouldn’t really look too much into that either – because as we all know, Gallant makes in-game changes all the time – and none of this stuff is set in stone.
After all, what we see on Thursday may not be the case on Saturday, and what we see on Saturday may not be what we see on Sunday either.
As mentioned above, these final nineteen games of the season is tinkering and experimenting time.
As far as anything else, I saw some people complain about Kakko not being on the power-play – but let’s face it – if it were Lafreniere or Chytil who were asked to take a seat – then these same people would’ve complained about that too!
You can never win!
And for what it’s worth – I think that when it comes to the third line forwards – whoever is hot at the time will receive these minutes.
Again, nothing is set in stone – and where it should be mentioned that Lafreniere has been on a heater lately – so it makes sense to go with him over Kakko right now.
Let’s take a look at the key post-practice interviews from Tuesday.
Up first, K’Andre Miller:
Miller, who seemed to be emulating his head coach, as he was sniffling a lot; once again expressed his remorse for what he said was an “accident.”
At this point, since he has no previous history – you have to take him at his word – even if this didn’t look accidental at all.
(And as said then and as I’m saying now – if the roles were reversed, and had an opponent spit into the face of a Ranger – accidental or not – we’d all be screaming bloody murder!)
However, Miller, like many athletes before him, and as many athletes will do in the future, also tried to share/explain away the blame; as #79 said that many athletes spit. He didn’t bring up the name of Roberto Alomar here, nor mention that 99.9% of all athletes who spit don’t have their loogies land onto the face of an opponent either.
At the end of the day, I think Miller knows that he messed up and just wants to get past all of this.
To the media’s credit – they were really good today, including Wince Mercogliano (and that means something coming from me – but where it should also be mentioned that Mollie “Chuckles” Walker wasn’t there either!) – as they continually pressed Miller about this – so much so – where you could really see the defenseman getting a little bit irritated about the line of questioning that he had to know was coming.
As far as anything else non-saliva related; Miller also said that he was happy to be back, found the off-time to be boring, and then said what I stated on this site, and what many of you guys & gals believed too – the time away was also beneficial, as these ten days gave him some rest and reset time.
And prior to moving on to our next interview – let’s also not forget that Miller was the only Ranger to play in all 102 games from last season (82 regular season and 20 postseason games) – so in a way, this rest time was the silver lining of this suspension.
While Kane hasn’t had much time to speak to the media (after all, he hasn’t even been here for a week yet!); I thought he displayed both his personality and his sense of humor on Tuesday.
Take a look:
Kane said what we all knew – having no practices, the whirlwind situation of his arrival and the Rangers’ schedule did him no favors.
To his credit, he also admitted the both he, and his buddy, Panarin, have been forcing the puck, as they try to rekindle their chemistry from seven years ago.
Again, and as Alain Vigneault once said, “IT’S A PRO-CESS!”
Kane didn’t shy away from the lofty expectations bestowed upon him, where my takeaway was – it may take a little more time – but that’s fine – it’s all about the playoffs.
Number 88 also cracked some jokes and let his personality shine through, especially when he mentioned that Ryan Carpenter, who once played with him in Chicago, texted him and joked about having to sit as he waited for Kane to arrive.
(Of course, Carpenter has since been assigned to Hartford – but that’s business – and I’d expect Carpenter, like Brodzinski, to be a “BLACK ACE” too.)
Kane also laughed about “roster management,” the new phrase whenever a team ices a player that they’ll soon trade; but the newest Ranger did say, that due to being “roster management’d,” that prior to his Rangers’ debut, he hadn’t practiced in two weeks.
Kane felt that Tuesday, and Wednesday’s practice too, will do him wonders.
Once again, I thought the media did a great job in asking all of the right questions, where the Hall of Famer, Larry Brooks, stood tallest, when he asked Kane about his present living situation.
In a response, Kane was open and honest, and said that he was staying in the city and mentioned that guys with contracts with term on them usually live elsewhere. (Westchester and Connecticut is where most of the Rangers live – and not in NYC.)
While Kane’s future in the seasons beyond wasn’t directly addressed; Kane did say that he was aware of his present situation (a rental – but he never said that word verbatim) – and that he wanted to experience living in NYC – and forever as long as that may last.
In other words – I think it’s safe to assume that he wasn’t interested in signing any long-term leases on a NYC apartment/condo!
(If anything, while we all know what the reality of the situation is; Kane didn’t rule out a return next season – but why would he – especially now?)
Kane also talked about watching the Rangers as he awaited news of his trade, and how tough it was – not only to see players being sat (Schneider and Carpenter) – but how brutal it was when watching Mika “Willis Reed” Zibanejad block a shot too.
If you watch any of these interviews, then make sure to watch this one.
Last, but certainly not least, “THE TURK!”
Here’s what Gallant had to say for himself on Tuesday:
The always level-headed and cool-as-a-cucumber head coach pretty much reiterated everything that’s been said on this site – and what Kane had said too.
Gallant brought up how the two days off were good for his team and then added that he will be trying out new things as the team prepares for the playoffs – including tinkering around with the power-play units.
Gallant’s biggest message to his man-advantage units? The oldest expression coined by fans in hockey – “SHOOT THE PUCK!” (Barry!)
“The Turk” also brought up the craziness of the last few weeks, but said that with the trade deadline being a thing of the past, the following:
“I do [believe we are settled down]. I feel a lot better. We had a good practice today. We’ll have another good practice tomorrow, then we go back on the road for three in four. I think we are building for the stretch run here, gotta get ready to play good hockey, sound hockey and, again, the last few games, 4-5 games, haven’t gone well, but overall we are building for the ultimate goal down the road. We’ll keep trying to get better and we’ll let these lines go and see how they go and we have lots of good options, we just have to get it going again.”
Gallant also said that he wouldn’t have changed a thing – his approval for his boss, Chris Drury.
On Motte and Lindgren, Gallant, for what feels like the 78967868696879th time since he accepted this job, said that the medical staff tells him who is able and unable to play – and where he doesn’t know when these two will be back, as he, like everyone else, awaits word from the Rangers’ doctors.
The Rangers will practice on Wednesday morning, prior to their departure to Montreal.
I might return tomorrow – but I think this first day back will end up as the most “newsworthy” day of the two days of practice.
After all – what else can really be said? Plus, we already know the line-up. Now it’s time to do the talking on the ice.
In some personal notes, as previously mentioned, I’m flying out to Buffalo on Friday and will be attending both Ranger games this weekend, against the Sabres and the Penguins.
While some of you have already contacted me, when giving me your restaurant/bar suggestions – the more the merrier!
In other words, give me your favorite wing spot in Buffalo – and your favorite watering holes in Pittsburgh too!
I will have a recap of the Rangers/Canadiens game on Thursday night – but it may be a quick one – due to my early flight on Friday morning.
Since my buddy, TEN O’CLOCK TOMMY (not much of a drinker – the opposite of me – and that’s why our friendship works, ha!) will be driving yours truly from Buffalo to Pittsburgh following the game against the Sabres; I may not have a game review of Saturday’s game – but I’ll post a photo review from that game – and fingers-crossed – my visit to the grave of our 13th President, Millard Fillmore. (He’s buried five minutes away from the arena – and much like my affinity for Rangers’ history – I am a big American History buff too!)
The same will also take place on Sunday evening, following the game against the Penguins – and with a game recap to be posted Monday morning.
Finally, as we near the end here, and prior to plugging my two favorite Ranger-themed podcasts that will be airing shows later tonight, “The Blueshirt Underground Show” and “2 Guys, 1 Cup;” just an update on the latest book project that I’m currently working on.
As previously mentioned on this site, after writing both the “New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden,” and the four volume-set “Tricks of the Trade” too (check the PLUGS segment of tonight’s blog for ordering information if you don’t have your copies yet); I was originally going to do a book covering every draft of Rangers’ history.
However, since my previous books were so intense, with tons, and I mean tons, of hours and research put into them – I wanted to do a more comedic book for my next one – and then get into that “D-Day” title.
My next book, “The Top 100 Villains of Rangers’ History” (working title), is getting there – but admittedly, I only have about 20% of it written. (This 2022-23 season, and my real-life schedule, has hampered my free time – as the pandemic really allowed me to get the first book done and 50% of the four-volume set too.)
Back in November, I wrote a blog entitled “The Top Twelve Most Hated Rangers’ Villains” which you can find here: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/11522/
That blog was the genesis for this book, where unlike that blog – the profiles will be fleshed out, more details, formatted better, and you get the rest.
Furthermore, the top twelve listed there won’t be the same featured top dozen once the book reaches its finish line – as admittedly – I went with a ton of recent names for the purpose of that blog.
That said, I can tell you that Denis Potvin will remain as #1!
The book also won’t be limited to just players either, as silly things, both true and for comedic purposes, will be included, such as the Bell Centre (Montreal), Islander fans (duh), and perhaps players-turned-analysts too. (Hello P.K. Slewban!)
On Monday, prior to the Rangers’ return a day later, I finally finalized the “Top 100” villains list. All that’s left to do is write the profiles – a lengthy task!
However, and just like any other list – all of it is subjective and opinion-based.
And to be honest, when it comes to the #99th thing ranked vs the #85th thing ranked – does it make that much of a difference?
That said, I’m open for all feedback – feedback that I’m already receiving on social media.
While I think the top five, the top ten, the top twenty-five are all easy to figure out; it’s the latter rankings, #75 through #100, that’s most difficult.
In other words, sound off in the comments or by email, and give me your lesser known villains.
Please don’t tell me about Mike Milbury, Martin Brodeur, the players from the Broad Street Bullies, Bryan Trottier or anyone of that ilk. I’m fully aware!
I’m looking for the John Druce’s of the world here. I’m also looking for funny suggestions, as one was presented to me today – “season ticket holders who sell their tix for jacked-up prices – and to fans of the opposing team!”
Anything presented to me that I go on to use, will be credited in the book to whoever comes up with it!
And where do I rank Glen Sather?
As I write these words late Tuesday afternoon, both “The Blueshirt Underground Show” and “2 Guys, 1 Cup” have announced that they will be recording (live) new episodes tonight.
Those two shows, like this site, support each other – which means that they won’t be airing head-to-head – so fans who want more Ranger content can listen to both shows back-to-back.
And since I have no life – that’s what I plan on doing!
Up first is “BSU,” which will air at 7PM here:
“2 Guys, 1 Cup” will air their new episode at 9:30PM – but you have to be on Facebook to listen to it live.
You can do so by visiting this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/228102235825482
For those not on the Book of Face, “2G1C” usually uploads their shows to iTunes immediately after recording.
My first 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/BOS 3/4 Review: Panarin’s Never-Ending Turnovers & Depleted Line-Up Burns Rangers in Beantown; The “Litmus Test” That Wasn’t, Kane Chemistry Not There Yet, Gallant’s Gang Catches Off-Days at the Right Time, P.K. Slewban Calls Out Loud-Mouth Jackass on National Television (It Was Me!); Amateur ESPN Broadcast & More
Rangers vs. Senators Postgame Thoughts: The Good, The Bad, The Excuses! Patrick Kane, Tough Test Ahead Prior to Four-Day Break; Wacky Scheduling, Chris Drury Makes Two Minor Trades, Coyotes Ruining the League; Player Safety No Better & More
If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:
Don’t forget to order my new 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