What’s up everyone and welcome to another BlueCollarBlueShirts.com blog. Time is of the issue here because the idea of snow drives everyone insane. Even more insane than how bad the Rangers were in the third period of their 4-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.
If you missed my last blog, you can check it out here:
NYR/FLA 3/7 Review: The Glassiah Wins The Broadway Hat & Leads The Rangers To Victory; NYR Spay The Cats in MSG South, PP Gets a Golden Sombrero For Futility, Rangers Raise Ticket Prices Nearly 100% on Season Ticket Holders, Lundqvist Climbs Up The Ladder In Two Milestones, Update on Frank Boucher (Relatives Found!) & More From A Night Where GLASSAMANIA WAS RUNNIN’ WILD!
As I said on Tuesday night, I’m flying to Detroit this weekend to see Artie Lange and the last ever Rangers game at the Joe. My flight was originally scheduled for 9:15AM out of JFK. However, because of snow, my flight was bumped to 10:15AM. It was then bumped again to 2PM, and mind you, there is not a drop of snow on the ground. With snow predicted though, everyone turns into villagers with pitchforks! I was given the option of taking a 7AM flight out of La Guardia, so I’m rolling the dice and hoping that flight takes off on time. I rather sleep when I land in Detroit, in a hotel bed, than squirm around in an airport! With my body requiring some sleep, this won’t be as long as usual.
Going into this game, I really thought the Rangers would sweep this road-trip. The worst was over, with the two Florida teams, both looking for a playoff spot, being vanquished by the Blueshirts. I wouldn’t call this 4-3 loss to Carolina, a “trap game” type of a loss though.
Before the puck was even dropped, the Rangers added more players to their walking wounded. Joining Grabner, Girardi, Klein & Fast were Henrik Lundqvist and Rick Nash. Lundqvist is out with a lower-body injury, while Nash has an upper-body injury. Who even knows what that means? Only in the NHL can you get away with not listing a specific injury. I’ve talked about this before, in the NFL, every team has to give out specific injury information, because of gambling reasons. I wonder with a team in Vegas next season, if the NHL will follow suit. Like it or not, gambling does create interest in sports.
As far as Lundqvist and Nash, it was reported that neither one is seriously hurt. Lundqvist must’ve done something, because the Rangers called up Skapski from the ECHL Swamp Rabbits to their AHL affiliate in Hartford. With that move made, Brandon Halverson was called up to back up Raanta. Of note, this is the second straight time the Rangers opted for Halverson over Hellberg. That said, I think Halverson gets the nod over Hellberg because of the call-up rules after the trade deadline.
No one, outside of the Rangers, knows what’s up with Lundqvist or Nash. Did Lundqvist have an accident with an anal bleaching? That would be a lower-body injury. Did he pull something? Did he stub his toe? Does he have diarrhea? On Nash, is it concussion related? Did he hyper-extend his elbow by shooting wide? Does he have brain-freeze? All those would be considered “upper-body” injuries.
I get NHL teams don’t want to give their opponents things to work with, but the other 3 sports list their injuries. It’s time to move on and announce injuries. It ends all speculation. Remember when everyone said Zuccarello was going to vegetable for life in the 2015 playoffs? Cut the shit. You’ve already taken the enforcer out of the game, have refs make arbitrary calls on goals, have silly challenges, etc. You can now tell us what’s going on with the players.
As far as Nash and Hank being out, I don’t think the Rangers would miss Hank as much as they would miss Nash. Raanta is more than capable and I think is better than Hank in 2017 anyway. While Nash will make you pull your hair out of your head on his breakaway attempts, he is playing good hockey, even if the stat sheet doesn’t have as much ink as you would like it to have.
Even with 5 skaters and Hank out, I still thought the Rangers should’ve handled Carolina. The game would change after a controversial goal in the third period. Even with that said, the Rangers were just terrible in the third period.
What you have to keep in your mind is that the Rangers are a good team. In the AV era, they are the best team in the regular season. Of course, that means shit come Stanley Cup playoff time. The point is, the Rangers are a good team and like any NHL team, have their peaks and valleys. Fortunately for Ranger fans, even when they are playing bad, they are still in the mix of things. Just imagine being Carolina, who as a victim of being in the Metro division, never has a shot at the playoffs. The Rangers may be the weakest team of the four top Metro teams, but that Metro division can really beat anyone in the league. I would be surprised if a Metro team doesn’t win the Cup this year.
During this season and especially since the start of the calendar year, the Rangers have been horrible on the PP. 0-26, 1-40, and 3-59 since January 19th. Tonight, they scored 3 PPG’s. Go figure.
The Rangers have been a horrible second period team. Tonight, they won the period 2-0.
The Rangers have been dominated in the shot department in the second and third periods. Tonight they won that battle, 28-22.
The Rangers busted up so many bad streaks & trends tonight, but on the flip side, had an uncharacteristic third period that cost them the game.
The Rangers are the best third period team in hockey. They lost the third period 2-0 and were out-shot 18-14.
The Rangers have been well disciplined in the third period. Tonight, they took two penalties, which were both converted on the Carolina PP. Those two goals cost them the game.
The only thing that stayed consistent tonight was that Derek Stepan can’t score goals. That was tough to type, because I’m not on-board the “Stepan Hate Train” like many Ranger fans are. Then again, not many of you guys are on my “Trade Hank” train either, but the car is filling up on that one! It is tough to watch Stepan struggle so much this season. I don’t think he’s playing bad, but with his salary, his numbers aren’t where they need to be.
Let’s get into it. As always, the box score comes from ESPN.com because NHL.com is impossible to navigate:
1st Period Summary
||Chris Kreider (26) (Power Play)
Assists: Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh
||Jeff Skinner (21)
Assist: Victor Rask
||Valentin Zykov (1)
Assists: Sebastian Aho, Jordan Staal
||Derek Ryan: 4 Minute Double Minor for High sticking|
||Elias Lindholm: 2 Minutes for Tripping|
||Brady Skjei: 2 Minutes for Hooking|
2nd Period Summary
||Mika Zibanejad (10) (Power Play)
Assists: Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan
||Mika Zibanejad (11) (Power Play)
||2 Minute Bench Penalty for Too Many Men on the Ice (Served by Lee Stempniak)|
||Ryan Murphy: 2 Minutes for Tripping|
||Oscar Lindberg: 2 Minutes for Hooking|
3rd Period Summary
||Sebastian Aho (19) (Power Play)
Assists: Teuvo Teravainen, Justin Faulk
||Sebastian Aho (20) (Power Play)
Assists: Jordan Staal, Elias Lindholm
||Nick Holden: 2 Minutes for Tripping|
||Mika Zibanejad: 2 Minutes for Slashing|
With all the injuries, AV rolled these lines out:
Buchnevich/Zibanejad/Miller – a line that’s never played together, as Miller is usually on the third line.
Kreider/Stepan/Zucc – they’ve played together enough this season.
Vesey/Hayes/Puempel – first time this line was put together, although Vesey & Hayes have chemistry together.
Glass/Lindberg/Pirri – they’ve played well together but Pirri is as good as gone once Fast & Grabner come back.
The D pairings were:
Staal/McDonagh – McDonagh was the best Ranger on the ice, in my eyes. Yea Z-Bad had two PPGs, but McDonagh was great out there. The Captain prevented several scoring opportunities and moved the puck well all game. Staal, not so much.
Smith/Holden – AV seems to be bouncing Smith around and trying to see what works.
Skjei/Kampfer – they weren’t bad tonight. I still think Clendo deserves a spot over Kampfer.
As noted, with Hank hurt, Raanta got the start.
The start of this game featured Carolina bringing it to the Rangers. However, Raanta made some early saves and the Rangers got back into the swing of things. Carolina was undisciplined all night, taking 6 penalties. Derek Ryan would catch Kevin Hayes with a high stick that drew blood. Good for four minutes. Lindholm would immediately follow Ryan to the sin bin for tripping. This put the Rangers on a 5 vs 3 PP.
Chris Kreider, on his way to 30+ goals (40 may not be out of the reach if he finishes strong), scored his 26th goal of the season, a rare NYR PPG. While the goal was scored with the Rangers on a 5 vs 3 PP, you will take it any way you can get it.
After Kreider scored, there was a stretch of time in the first period where Carolina looked deflated. I thought they gave up. I was even thinking of what Steve Valiquette said in the pre-game. To paraphrase, and these are my words, not his, Carolina played a lot of crap teams lately. You would think that an upper-echelon team, like the Rangers, would turn their world upside down. I had that feeling for a bit in the first. However, the Rangers defense fall apart. (Hey if you Hank fans can use the defense excuse, I’m going to use it too, especially when the defense made two horrible plays in 29 seconds! Keep in mind, Raanta also makes $7.5M less than Lundqvist.)
Skjei and Staal made two horrible plays, back-to-back, in 29 seconds which resulted in two Carolina goals. Skinner was left all alone in front of Raanta, with a Ranger not even in ear-shot distance. 1-1. Then, 29 seconds later, Zykov was in front of Raanta all alone. 2-1 bad guys.
Carolina would get a little mojo, but when the period was over, the Rangers, due to all the PP’s, were up 15-8 in the SOG department, despite the 2-1 score in favor of the Canes. Everyone was going nuts and doing the doom and gloom shit on social media, but I felt the Rangers would come back. They would.
The second period was something that would make pigs fly. The Rangers scored two PPG’s, both off the stick of Mika Zibanejad.
With the Americans out there, Stepan & Kreider, they cycled the puck and eventually Zibanejad would beat goalie Cam Ward to tie the game. With less than four minutes remaining in the period, Carolina couldn’t clear the puck and Zibanejad had the puck all to himself. Boom, 3-2 Rangers. That score would stick going into the third period.
During the intermission, Steve Valiquette threw straight fire at Cam Ward, calling Ward “The 30th best goalie in the NHL.” Talk about some bulletin board material. If this was the NBA and Barkley or Shaq said something equivalent to this, this would be back page news. I wonder if Vally will get any blow back for that comment.
Valiquette, who probably has a coaching job in his lifetime, if he wants and works for it, is a great analyst for M$G Networks. While I don’t agree with everything he says (Telling fans not to boo was one thing I didn’t like. I also didn’t get how raved about Tampa doing the right thing about their goalies, while the Rangers should’ve done the same thing with Talbot and could (and won’t) do the same thing with Raanta) for the most part, Vally is right on the money.
It just caught me off-guard when Vally went in on Ward. Just seemed out of character, but that was the story for this game for the Rangers. I don’t know if Vally jinxed the Rangers, because after saying that, Ward stopped all 14 NYR third period shots. As someone who has had to eat crow on some of my sport opinions, eh, it happens!
Leading 3-2 at the start of the third period, the Rangers just fell apart. Carolina looked like an offensive juggernaut, firing the first 8 shots of the period. Many of them were good looks too.
The play that changed the game occurred at the half-way point of the third period. While on a powerplay, Sebastion Aho scored from the point. However, Raanta was interfered with. Take a look for yourself, pictures don’t lie:
Before continuing with my opinions, let’s go to Vally, a former goaltender and someone paid to talk about this shit, rather than me, typing this up 20 beers deep:
No bloody consistency. Lindholm left elbow pushed Raanta’s plastic dangler up, which is attached to his helmet that in turn pushes helmet up
— Steve Valiquette (@VallysView) March 10, 2017
— MSG Networks (@MSGNetworks) March 10, 2017
So Lindholm interferes with Raanta’s equipment, all while being in the crease. The refs reviewed the call on a small screen that may as well have had rabbit ears on it. Call stands.
Plays like this and all the offside goal reviews, is really going to cost someone a playoff series.
I don’t know if the refs bet the over or what, but this goal was allowed. 3-3 with ten minutes to go. It just changed the whole game.
Less than two minutes later, Z-Bad would be called for slashing. Sebastion Asshole, I mean Aho, would score again. It was a perfect PPG, with everyone down low. 4-3.
I’m telling you, while you can make the excuses the Rangers were hurt and the refs screwed them, the Rangers just couldn’t get back into the swing of things when the refs made the game 3-3. Carolina was like a shark smelling blood.
The Rangers would have chances to tie it late, most notably, Derek Stepan, ringing one off the pipe, when the Rangers pulled Raanta for the extra skater. I don’t know if Ward heard what Vally said, but he kicked it up a notch in the third and the Rangers couldn’t get it done.
What should’ve been a victory turned into a frustrating loss. I know many fans expect the Rangers to go 82-0 with every player scoring 50+ goals, but you gotta be realistic. You can’t blame the team for this one. If you’re angry, be angry at the refs.
While I was pumped about Glass & Raanta heading into this game, here’s my take on their play tonight. Both played well. Despite the 4 goals allowed, you would be hard pressed to pin any of them on Raanta. We’ve seen him stop one-on-one goals before, but those first period goals were the result of terrible defense. The third goal changed the game and that was a + in the +/- for the refs. The fourth goal was a great PPG, he got beat.
The Glassman, in his third game, was solid all night, even getting 6 vs 5 time. He also tried the same play as Tuesday night, going for a stuff-in rebound, with the Rangers trailing 4-3. It wasn’t meant to be. He did create turnovers, was solid on the forecheck and did everything you would expect a fourth liner to do. I really hope that AV keeps him around. I know people are indifferent on Pirri but love Oscar, but I’m sorry, I rather Glass on my team than Oscar. He just has that veteran presence and brings things to this team that no other Ranger does.
I still can’t believe that Cam Ward finished with 40 saves, with 3 of his goals allowed coming off power plays. It’s amazing how many “locked-in” goalies the Rangers have seen this season.
In wrapping up tonight’s game, this was a tough loss, but you gotta relax. After all, if the Rangers would’ve moved into a three-way virtual tie with CBJ and Pitt. Do you really want that? I’m not promoting losing, but I am looking at this (Tanner) Glass half-full. Tonight was just another game that increased the Rangers chances as finishing as the first wild card.
Should’ve the Rangers won this game? Yes. No question. Be happy that it’s a regular season game, this isn’t the team you roll out in the playoffs and hope that you don’t have this referee in a playoff game.
Moving along, I’m off to Detroit tomorrow, as I scratch off another NHL arena on my bucket list. At least I can scratch off all the Original 6 arenas, although Detroit is getting a new home next year, so I’ll have to go back sometime in my lifetime. I’m excited to see Windsor, where I hear Gretzky Whisky is available! I’m bringing an extra suitcase just to bring back Gretzky Whisky and authentic Labatt Blues!
Of course, Detroit was home to Gordie Howe, the greatest or second greatest (Depending on who you talk to) to ever play the game. Just imagine if Howe accepted Boucher’s offer and came to the Rangers? Imagine that course of hockey history altered?
Oh and then there is this for tomorrow night….
I’m gonna be very angry on stage in Detroit tomm night. Bring ur stupid Smart phones
— Artie Lange (@artiequitter) March 9, 2017
Due to the NHL fucking me out of money and changing the time of the game on Sunday from 12:30pm to 7:30pm, I won’t be back until Monday. I’ll try to double blog, recapping my Detroit tip and the Bolts game Monday night.
Until then, I’ll post hockey related pics on my twitter account.
Let’s Go Rangers!
@NYCTHEMIC on twitter