NYR/NJD 4/18 R1G1 Review: Road Warrior Rangers Punch Glass-Jaw Devils in the Mouth; Dominate & Negate Jersey’s Home Ice Advantage, Team-Wide Victory; Super Special Teams, Good Game for the Americans; Fox & Kreider Make History, CZAR IGOR, M$GN, “TURK TALKS” & More

In Game 1 of their best-of-seven first-round series with the New Jersey Devils; the New York Rangers dominated their Hudson River rivals, wire-to-wire, en route to a commanding 5-1 victory. While I have Chris Kreider and Adam Fox highlighted in tonight’s header photo (only because they made franchise history); this was a team-wide effort through-and-through.

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. WHAT A RUSH!

If you were to tell me that the Rangers were going to pummel the Devils on Tuesday night, then I would’ve thought that you were out of your mind.

Come 9:45PM on April 18th – that’s exactly what the Blueshirts did – they brutalized the Devils by a final score of 5-1.

And heck, the lone Devils’ strike didn’t take place until there were only 2:46 remaining in regulation, and with Gallant’s Gang up 4-0 – a penalty shot goal for who else, Jack Hughes.

Outside of K’Andre Miller (more on him during the GAME REVIEW) – every Blueshirt stepped up and earned their stripes tonight.

Put it this way: This 5-1 victory was so impressive (HOW IMPRESSIVE WAS IT?) – that you’re now hearing the “s-word” bantered about in the mean streets of Rangerstown, USA – “sweep.”

While yes, it’s too early to go there and think like that; I also can’t blame some of these folk for thinking this way.

Of course, this was only one win of the four required – but on this night – every Ranger fan should be proud of what they saw at “The Pebble” – where at points – red-and-black fans were so quiet (HOW QUIET WERE THEY?) – that you could hear fentanyl and crack deals go down in lovely downtown Newark, NJ.

Going into this game, I didn’t expect much and where I also expected Sam Rosen to do his usual gaga love-fest whenever talking about Jack Hughes. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised following the M$GN broadcast – as Rosen barely mentioned the Devils’ superstar.

If you’ve been reading what I’ve been writing for the past few weeks on this site – then you know that I had my concerns about this series.

And who knows, maybe these concerns will become reality soon enough – but let’s not hope for that!

Furthermore, if there was any game of this series that I didn’t have high-hopes for, then it was Game One.

While it’s true that I always preach my glass half-full optimism on this site; I just felt that the Devils, and as was evident by their status as a -130 favorite heading into tonight’s tilt, had all of the advantages in their favor.

Had this been a second-round or later series; then I would’ve liked the Rangers’ chances much more during the first game.

Long story short – I thought the Devils, fresh-and-ready, and due to their speed; would’ve came out guns blazin’ tonight.

Plus, I don’t think that I have to remind you about the Rangers’ slow starts during first periods either.

None of that happened tonight.

It were the Rangers, and as if this was the “Bizarro World,” that played the role of “Superman” during Game One.

They were also the Devils’ kryptonite.

An early goal scored by Tarasenko, the Blueshirts’ first of these 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, put the Rangers on the board first. Following a penalty kill that went 2-2; the longest-tenured Ranger, Chris Kreider, scored a power-play goal before the ten-minute mark had even hit – a man-advantage goal that turned out to be tonight’s game-winner.

The Rangers then had several chances to gain the “dreaded three-goal lead” during the first twenty minutes of play; but couldn’t find it.

After kicking around the Devils during the first frame; come the middle period, the Rangers’ penalty kill were tasked to work again – and as they’d do all night – stunted any sort of momentum for the home team.

Better than that, the special teams, now 4-4 at the time (three kills, one power-play goal) – didn’t even allow a shot on goal.

That’s how dominant the special teams were tonight – and a trend that will need to continue.

As perhaps as many expected; the Devils did show some response during the second period, but between an increasing amount of shot blocks (a whopping 23 in total – and as compared to the Devils’ 12 blocked shots); but it were the road team who won this period, following a goal from the least likeliest suspect – Ryan Lindgren.

For Lindgren, who only scored one goal this season (an empty-netter against Philadelphia during a Rangers’ blowout) – this huge playoff goal matched his regular season total!

Following double-nickel’s 3-0 goal, which was scored with less than four-minutes remaining during the second period – the Rangers never relented.

Come the third period, the Rangers had killed off one more penalty, thus making them 4-4 during man-down situations – and where the PK never allowed the Devils to register a shot on goal during their eight-minutes of power-play time.


At around the half-way mark of the final frame, and following a fourth-line scrum; the Rangers were back on the power-play again – and where Kreider scored again too!

4-0, GOOD GUYS – and this too – GAME OVER.

Only a late Miller turnover (of many), which forced Trouba into slashing/hooking/holding Hughes with 2:46 remaining, thus giving the Devil a penalty shot, would mar an otherwise perfect night.

Less than a minute later, and with the shutout now ruined; Filip Chytil scored into the Devils’ empty net – the end result of Fox’s fourth assist of the game.

5-1, GOOD GUYS – and better than that – on a night where tonight’s victor was never in question.

After all, you don’t get many “stress-free wins” during the playoffs!

It doesn’t matter if it’s former Devil, P.K. Slewban, or the current red-shirts of today – as once again – Barclay Goodrow took out the trash.

While I’ve only focused on the goal scoring during my opening remarks (and I’ll get into everything else during the GAME REVIEW segment); without a shadow of a doubt – this was a team-wide victory – and where you could highlight any Ranger following the big win – sans Miller.

Furthermore, similar to the poor officiating from tonight’s match; I also thought that the official statisticians fared no better.

After all, Goodrow was only awarded with three blocked shots – where in reality – he doubled that number.

The Rangers’ defense also sacrificed themselves, as Jacob Trouba, Niko Mikkola, Ryan Lindgren, Braden Schneider and Fox (go figure – a game-high four blocked shots) were all superb.

And then there was CZAR IGOR – who was a flawless 27-of-27 during 5 x 5, penalty kill and power-play situations.

While it’s somewhat true that #31 didn’t have his number called upon too much; during the four or five times that it was – the 2022 Vezina Trophy winner showcased his desire to become the second goalie of franchise history to win both the Vezina and the Stanley Cup. (Dave Kerr, in 1940, is the only Rangers’ goaltender to have won both.)

Speaking of franchise history; due to his two power-play goals scored tonight, Kreider (14) set the franchise record for most power-play goals. Adam Graves (13) had previously held the record.

Kreider, now with 36 postseason goals, also has the franchise record for most playoff goals (surpassing Rod Gilbert, who finished with 35).

If that wasn’t enough for you, then Fox also became the second-fastest defenseman to log twenty assists during playoff competition (24 games) – of NHL history.

Fox, who now has 21 postseason apples, also hit this mark faster than previous record holder, the greatest defenseman of franchise history, the 1994 Conn Smythe winner, Brian Leetch (20 assists in 26 games).

Only Gary Suter (23 games) hit this mark faster than Fox.

While of course, all of this is just “cherry-on-the-top” stuff; it’s also a nice feather in the cap of two men, #20 and #23 – who way down the line – may one day find their numbers in the rafters of M$G – a topic dear to my heart! (I did literally write the book about this after all – check out the PLUGS segment for more!)

If there’s one major takeaway from tonight, the only one that matters, and as I wrap-up this prologue, then it’s this – the Rangers are now fifteen wins away from accomplishing their goal.

Fifteen more games like this?

Then that goal will be realized.

But of course, and as Gerard Gallant has made famous – “ONE GAME AT A TIME!”

Let’s first talk about all of the pregame news & notes; and then get into tonight’s GAME REVIEW.

Then. Now. Forever!

As talked about during my 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs preview blog from Monday morning (https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/23scp/ ), the Rangers had off on Sunday from the ice; as instead, they held a video review session.

Come Monday, 24-hours away from Game 1, the team held one last final practice, where as noted previously on this site – the time for talking was done.

However, and despite it being the time for everyone to now do their talking on the ice; Rangers’ head coach, Gerard Gallant, still has media requirements to fulfill!

In other words, here was Monday’s “TURK TALK”:

As you’d expect, “THE TURK” didn’t really say anything that we didn’t already know, nor anything that he hasn’t said before neither.

However, he did reveal one little nugget of information – the team, despite their close proximity to the Devils’ barn, would be staying at a hotel – rather than spending the next several days/nights in their own homes.

This isn’t a new concept, as previously, other coaches of franchise history have done the same during series’ against both the Islanders and the Devils.

As you already probably know, by treating the Devils as if they were just any other road opponent; by staying together at the hotel, it allows the players to be devoid of any distractions – and I don’t think that I have to remind you about the theories in regards to CZAR IGOR, and his new sire at his humble abode, Timofey Shesterkin, from earlier this season.

It also allows the team to continue this journey together and strengthen their bonds.

While the chemistry should already be there by this point; I’m sure for the players who were acquired prior to the trade deadline (and I’m really talking about Patrick Kane here, despite his Hall of Fame resume) – this strategy is a major benefit – and as we saw the results of tonight.

A day later, Tuesday, Game Day, the team held an optional practice in Newark – where not many of the regulars partook. After all – they just had two full practices and there was no reason to overexert themselves.

(And one last time, since I mentioned this twice over the weekend on this site – don’t expect much during practice/off days for the rest of the series. Outside of the “Black Aces,” Jaroslav Halak and Ben Harpur; the regulars will have the day off, as they rest-and-recuperate in-between games.)

Following the morning skate, Gallant spoke to the media one last time prior to tonight’s game:

During this brief chat, where one more time – there wasn’t anything from the land of real news to be had – Gallant did say what we all thought – it was time to drop the puck – and where these past four off-days have felt like two-weeks!

Here was the Rangers’ line-up from Tuesday night, their first game of this 2023 postseason:

FIRST LINE: Kreider/Mika/Kane

SECOND LINE: Panarin/Trocheck/Tarasenko

THIRD LINE: Lafreniere/Chytil/Kakko

FOURTH LINE: Vesey/Goodrow/Motte

FIRST PAIR: Lindgren/Fox

SECOND PAIR: Miller/Trouba

THIRD PAIR: Mikkola/Schneider



DAY-TO-DAY: Nobody! Praise the Hockey Gods!

PRESS BOX: Ben Harpur, Jake Leschyshyn, Louis Domingue, Libor Hajek and Jonny Brodzinski.


The following graphics and information come from ESPN.com:





22 4 18 .818 13 2 3 0 0 59:31 0


28 1 27 .964 27 0 0 0 0 59:49 0


Sadly, the worst Rangers’ goalie of this century, and a former Islander to boot; the excruciatingly horrible Sieve Vagistat, was in-studio tonight. Fortunately, the person who he got coffee for during the majority of his “playing days,” Henrik Lundqvist, made his return – his first game back since the Easter holiday.

Tonight’s game aired on both the M$G and TNT networks (via its sister network, TBS) – and where entering tonight – I planned on watching both broadcasts in my two-television man cave.

After all, I didn’t know how much I could take of a Jack Hughes’ rah-rah show – and where I’m happy to report that despite being a sister station of the Devils’ themselves – M$GN toned down all of that crap, junk we’ve seen many times before, to minimal levels.

While M$GN did bring up Hughes tonight; that’s their job. It’s just the verbal fellatio treatment that irks me – and again – there was none of that tonight.

Speaking of blowjobs, Sieve Vagistat was unfortunately there, despite the greatest Rangers’ goalie of this century also there, the future Hall of Famer, “THE KING OF COMMENTARY,” Henrik Lundqvist.

I won’t play my “Greatest Hits” for you again tonight – but needless to say – if Lundqvist is there, then you don’t need Vagistat there. You need a skater with Lundqvist in order to give viewers a different perspective.

Plus, listening to a guy who rarely played in the NHL drone on-and-on about his made-up stats and then talk about goaltending, when Lundqvist is right there, is unnecessary.

If there was anything amusing about Lundqvist’s coffee boy, outside of Vagistat proudly displaying his Chinatown-bought fake watch (have you noticed that Lundqvist never shows off his expensive and real rolex?); it was when Vagistat was promoting BUD LIGHT during the BUD LIGHT BAR segment.

Very fitting if you ask me – especially since Vagistat, who at the time, was talking about players on their knees, five-holes and sitting on their backsides – three topics very near and dear to Vagistat’s heart.

When talking about playing the first postseason game of a Stanley Cup tournament, Lundqvist, who has ample experience in this department (Vagistat has none – which is another reason why he shouldn’t be there – and why he doesn’t have a job with any of the national broadcasters either); said:

“When you’re in the playoffs, you’re so excited that you have to calm yourself down a bit.”

The Rangers sure looked calm tonight – while the Devils looked as nervous as a Newark junkie looking for their next fix.

When asked for his latest thoughts on his successor, CZAR IGOR, Lundqvist said, “What I love about Igor’s game is that he can stop goals through. He’s always in a good position. He’ll have to continue to do this well. His last 5-6 weeks told me that he was ready for the playoffs.”

Who would know better than Lundqvist? Surely not Vagistat!

As John Giannone told us that today was Mika Zibanejad’s 30th birthday (a Happy Birthday to both DJ MIKA, and to a life-long Rangers’ fan too, my good pal, Dancin’ Larry, who turned 54-years-old on Tuesday); Fox was interviewed by Michelle Gingras, who for the playoffs, is attending the games on the road.

Fox told the roving reporter, “This is what you play all year for. We came up short last year. We are hungry this year.”

He then only racked up four assists and made NHL history following this quote!

Gingras, who must be getting ready for a fifteen-minute set at “The Chuckle Hut,” then remarked, “The Rock is rockin’. Ha-ha-ha, back to the boys in the studio!”

Once returned to the studio; the M$GN panel recounted some Ranger/Devil playoff moments; where a 2008 win was highlighted. The nauseating Vagistat then pretended that he had something to do with it.

In his final pregame remarks, Lundqvist said, “You can talk about experience, but to me, it’s all about leadership.”

Captain Jacob Trouba, and really, all of the Rangers’ alternates too – all led by example tonight.

Come 7PM, we went to Sam Rosen & Joe Micheletti at The Pebble.

While these two couldn’t help themselves, and had to bring up Hughes during their preview; I did find Rosen’s serious narration over a video package to be entertaining.

Of Note Part I: TNT aired the national anthem. M$GN decided to bombard us with gambling ads instead.

And since I watched both broadcasts (albeit, with the TNT one largely on mute); TNT still remains as the best in the business.

(In fact, since I’m a Rangers’ degenerate – sometime on Wednesday – I’m going to rewatch this game, and listen to the best in the business, Kenny Albert, do his thing!)

It’s just all of the little things that add up – such as TNT showing us the SOG stats, faceoff stats, no bad camera angles (M$GN stole the ESPN power-play camera angle tonight – one they need to nix), and so forth.

Of Note Part II: Based on what we saw from the two networks (and from my “SAUCES” in Newark too); the crowd make-up of this game was approximately 70% Devil fans, 30% Ranger fans.

I know that many Blueshirt backers expected more of a presence (and to think that 30% is a low number kind of tells you the story too); but as previously said on this site – I thought this would be the case.

The Devils haven’t been to the playoffs in a long-time – and their fans weren’t going to look to make a quick buck either – they were going to attend this game.

Furthermore, I think there are a lot of Ranger fans out there (especially older and jaded ones like yours truly) – who are just sick of being ATMs for these teams – but I did my rant on this very topic two nights ago – so no need to do so again tonight!

GAME REVIEW time – where sit back, bust out a belt and enjoy!

I know I’m going to have as much fun writing this as you will have reading this! (Or so I hope!)

My pregame meal for tonight’s game – where wouldn’t you know it – my stomach settled down after the first period!


Gallant, sporting his lucky blue suit, the one we saw from last season, watched Zibanejad lose the first faceoff of the game.

While Mika didn’t have a bad game or anything like that; his goal drought increased to six-straight games tonight, and where he didn’t pick up a point during the five Ranger tallies either.

His biggest strength during this game took place on the four penalty kills; but his faceoff numbers must improve, as he finished with only nine wins on twenty-six draws (34.6% – the game’s low).

And you know it’s bad when even Chytil had a better showing at the dots – where in fact – the Czech had his best performance of the season at the circles. (Ten wins and three losses – 76.9% – the game’s high – WOW!)

After Sam let us know that a “LET’S GO DEVILS” chant had come up from the crowd; the Devils’ were the early aggressors, but a Trocheck hit on Hischier prevented an early threat.

However, just fifteen seconds later, and with the puck in the Devils’ zone; at just the 1:15 mark, Trocheck tripped Jonas Siegenthaler while directly behind the net of Vitek Vanecek – or as my buddy, Eddie G., of “The BSU Show,” calls him – DON VITO.

The assumed mafia don, like many before him, would eventually become WHACKED tonight!

However, this was a horrible penalty for Trocheck to take, and for all of the obvious reasons – early into the game, of the o-zone variety, etc.

Due to the big win, it’s also a penalty that may be forgotten about – but again – the obvious – this has to stop.

As the poverty fans in New Jersey tried to mock CZAR IGOR, by sing-songing his name; at the 30-second mark of the Devils’ PP, Dougie Hamilton, much inferior when compared to Adam Fox, spider-webbed a puck off of the glass – as he had failed to hit the net while wide-open.

Between strong work from both PK units – the Rangers didn’t allow a SOG – and survived this early scare.

Momentum gained – and earned.

Down to 16:18 remaining, Mikkola, who was an absolute beast tonight – and I can’t rave about him enough – took his first of three shot attempts – where all of three of them were intended to be tips/deflections for his forwards.

Vanecek stopped this one, and as he did against Kreider.

This also led to our first scrum of the game – the first of many.

Following Kreider’s disposal of former Rangers’ prospect, Ryan Graves; on the Rangers’ next shift, Chytil (two hits) knocked down Haula.

Talk about some growth – as prior to this season – it was always the Czech on the receiving end of checks.

As we approached the five-minute mark, Kreider’s tip remained as the game’s lone shot.

That would change with 15:02 remaining, as VLAD THE IMPALER found twine:

1-0, GOOD GUYS, as VLADDY showed Vanecek who was his DADDY!

While Miller and Panarin picked up assists here; this goal was all about #91 – the once alleged “forgotten” right-winger acquired prior to the trade deadline.

Tarasenko drifted from the circle to Vanecek’s left, went to the slot – and BOOM – ripped the puck right past the Devils’ goaltender.

Good things happen when you shoot the puck – and it’s nice to see a Ranger adopt the “shoot first, pass later” mentality.

The officials, who were absolutely horrendous tonight (more would be said about them had this been a close game); decided to keep this game close, and as they did with 13:51 remaining, when they boxed Fox for “holding” Bratt.

Both Fox and Gallant were infuriated about this BS call.

The Blueshirts’ PK, as previously mentioned, were phenomenal all game, including during these two minutes.

Zibanejad had a scoring chance denied just ten-seconds into this PK; while both Lindgren and Trouba hit anything that moved.

Come 11:51 remaining – the Devils were still looking for their first SOG.

Once returned to full-strength; with 11:15 remaining, Mikkola tried to set-up Trocheck – a strong attempt that just missed. Right after that, Lindgren – and not the usual suspect, Trocheck – hit the post. Keep this in mind for later.

Down to 10:46 remaining, and having already killed two penalties; the Rangers finally went on the power-play, as Wood held Panarin while the Devils were attacking – a senseless o-zone penalty.

Nine seconds into the power-play – Vanecek stopped Kane.

On the ensuing faceoff, one that Kreider won – and just sixteen seconds into the power-play, the following:

2-0, GOOD GUYS – a power-play goal for Kreider – and a historic goal of franchise history to boot!

This was an identical match for most of the goals that Kreider scored last season, as Fox set it up and CK20 then finished with his skilled deflection.

This goal also quieted down Narcotics Newark, NJ.

Come 9:04 remaining, Mikkola set-up another deflection try, his third – and one that was stopped.

At the time, the Rangers, who have been so poor during first periods as of late; were out-shooting the Devils 8-1 – and just dominating.

Down in the other end, both Kane and Trouba blocked shots.

Of course, what would a Rangers’ game be without a jinx from SAMMY WHAMMY ROSEN himself?

With 7:00 remaining, the assumed-to-be senile broadcaster remarked, “OH JOE, THE DEVILS AREN’T PUTTING ANY SHOTS ON IGOR YET JOE!”

Two seconds later – CZAR IGOR stopped his second shot of the game. Twenty seconds after that? Another save.


As we hit six minutes remaining; the Devils were all over the Rangers, but somehow, CZAR IGOR sent back some Tartar Sauce, as the left-winger missed a vacated net.

Right after that, CZAR IGOR stopped Hischier, which set off another scrum – and of course – there was Mikkola, the goalie’s fastest protector – right there to swat away these pissant Devils, as if they were gnats.

Also involved? Trocheck, whose GRIT was on full display tonight. Keep this in mind for later too!

The Devils, who may have scored five goals tonight had the net been moved five feet in either direction; then saw Bratt shoot wide (the eighth such miss at this point of the contest), and as he did with 5:11 remaining.

Come 4:33 remaining, Miller coughed up the puck – twice – and while in the Rangers’ zone. However, the fourth line bailed him out, and a drop pass from Motte to Vesey then went wide.

Now with three minutes left to go; Hughes raced to the net – only for Lindgren to meet him there.

If anyone had any questions about the health of the 2023 Steven McDonald Award winner – then #55 answered them all tonight – he’s fine – and more than fine at that!

Down to ninety seconds remaining – “THE RANGERS’ WAY.” (My trademark is still pending!)

With a chance to go up 3-0; the BFF’s, Mika and Kreider, had a two-vs-one odd-man rush.

Kreider got too fancy here, as he made the extra pass – a turnover – and no SOG.

Again, like the other rare negative plays from this game – you don’t care about it because of the final score/result – but had this been a one-goal loss – then you’d be pissed off about it.

Worse than that, rather than going up 3-0; instead, the Rangers were back on the penalty kill, because following the turnover, and with just 1:20 remaining – Schneider was boxed for a phantom high-sticking penalty, as allegedly perpetrated on Meier.

Schneider never touched Meier – and as multiple replays had indicated. Instead, one of Meier’s teammates caught him in the mush.

Gallant exploded at the officials about this bullshit call – and where a lot of four-letter words were sent towards the zebras too.

Goodrow, and as were the case on all of these penalty kills tonight, was the star of this PK.

Once the final horn went off, we had another scrum, and where Haula committed two cheap shots on Trocheck – none which earned the Devil a two-minute timeout.

As the two teams were heading towards the locker room, Trocheck screamed, “I’m going to f-word you up!”

(He didn’t say “f-word” verbatim, but I don’t use the “f-word” on this site! I think you get my point!)

2-0, GOOD GUYS, after twenty – and one of the best Ranger first periods in some time – and where this is true too – “there’s no time like the present!”

Here’s what I said at the time:

Now is not the time to look down the line and talk about the Rangers’ salary cap situation (we’ll do so this summer), but this is true too – if it comes down to Lindgren  vs Miller – then it’s not even a debate. Give Lindgren the bag. Photo Credit: NYR


As mentioned earlier, the Devils largely dominated this period – but lost it too.

In fact, it wasn’t until there were only 5:42 remaining where the home team’s relentless attack and momentum were thwarted – following a Haula holding penalty committed on Chytil.

While Zibanejad lost the opening faceoff (again); at the end of this PK, the birthday boy stripped Hughes from the puck – and as a result – the Rangers’ PK was now a perfect 3-3.

With the second line back on the ice; Trocheck almost had Tarasenko sprung for a breakaway – but the pass went just a bit too far – an icing – but a good try nonetheless.

In a period where the Rangers relied on their defense and CZAR IGOR; once again, there was Mikkola, who this time, with 17:06 to play, made a textbook sliding block on Hughes to break up a scoring opportunity.

Again – the Finn – an absolute monster tonight – and while this won’t happen – perhaps should be Trouba’s partner too. He was just that damn good.

Down to 15:00 remaining, Wood high-sticked Igor in the mouth – no call.

It was funny (but not in a ha-ha way) what was called and what wasn’t called tonight – and take my Rangers’ bias out of it – the officials were inconsistent all game and botched multiple plays – and on both sides.

(For example, Lafreniere tripped a Devil during the third period – but no call. See, I call it both ways!)

Following a strong play from Tarasenko in the d-zone; with 13:30 remaining, and with both fan bases cheering, Rosen said, “I love the dueling chants,” which means that half of him enjoyed the “LET’S GO DEVILS” chants.

Never change Sam, never change.

Also true?

The Rangers, following their flashy first period, were still looking for their first SOG of this period.

Right after this – Miller passed the puck directly to Hischier – a brutal turnover – and one that the Devils’ captain didn’t capitalize on – as he then shot the puck above the head of CZAR IGOR.

And just to illustrate my point about how bad the statisticians were tonight – Miller wasn’t “credited” with one turnover tonight.

Very easily, I could come up with five of them off the top of my head – and as I’m mentioning during this GAME REVIEW.

Come 12:45 remaining, the Rangers iced the puck three times in a rapid succession. Gallant looked pissed about this, but in my eyes, the Blueshirts were just trying to stall – and opted to ice the puck – rather than letting the Devils get at CZAR IGOR.

But he’s the head coach – and I don’t dare to doubt him!

A minute later, CZAR IGOR made his true “first best save of the game,” and as he did when he sent back some Tartar Sauce.

While CZAR IGOR didn’t have to do much during the first thirty minutes of this game; he did save his best for last – and when it counted the most.

Lindgren, another Ranger who had a monstrous “BIG DICK ENERGY” performance; continued to stop the brand names in NJ, as this time, with 11:09 to go, he snuffed out Meier – which then led to the Rangers’ first SOG of the period – a Vanecek save on Panarin.

As we crossed the halfway mark of the game/period (9:00 remaining); Miller fell down while attempting to play defense in his zone. Once again, the fourth line bailed him out – and in the other end – Vanecek matched the save that CZAR IGOR had just made – as he absolutely robbed Motte following a one-timed pass from Vesey.

Come 8:15 remaining, THE TROO TROO TRAIN, Mr. Trouba, came up with a pair of hits, including some captain-on-captain violence, following his body blow on Hischier.

Miller, who was just nightmarish tonight, watched all of this.

And let me be clear – I take no satisfaction in knocking Miller tonight. All you have to do is read my blogs from this season to see that I’m rooting for him and that I think he has the potential to be something special.

(Heck, I did say at the start of the season that I thought he’d snag some Norris votes from Fox. OOPS!)

However, for “THE PRAYING MANTIS” – he’s had a rough go of it lately – and as noted during my playoff preview – he can help the team as much as to hurt it.

The Rangers won in spite of him tonight – but even with that said – I’m sure he’ll rebound – he usually does.

Another example of Miller’s off-night?

With 7:25 remaining; CZAR IGOR made another highlight reel save, this time when he stopped Hughes on a breakaway. Keep all of this in mind for later too – ugh!

Down to 6:33 remaining – the Rangers finally had their first sustained possession of the period – but Vaneck stopped Fox on the Blueshirts’ third SOG of this middle frame. He wouldn’t stop Fox’s partner… and as we’re about to get into in just a second.

With 5:42 to go – Miller fell down again – but despite #79 on the ice – Haula holla’d at Chytil – in the form of a hold.

The Rangers’ power-play would receive another chance.

Following the PP1 unit being denied; with 46-seconds left on the man-advantage, the PP2 unit came on. Three seconds after that, a Trouba Bomb was stopped.

Then, with 3:52 left on the clock, and just 11-seconds remaining on the PP; either Lafreniere or Chytil had scored – following another Trouba Bomb!

3-0, GOOD GUYS – or so we thought.

The officials immediately reviewed this goal – and to their credit – and to show you that I can be objective – the bozos in the Foot Locker garb got this right.

On what was a double-deflection, both Chytil and Lafreniere had high-sticked the puck.

No goal – but even so – this was another great power-play – as we’re talking about a stick being held high by an inch or two.

Forty-nine seconds later, and with both teams back to full-strength – “THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR,” Ryan Lindgren:

3-0, GOOD GUYS – and no review needed!

On this goal, Fox skated around with the puck, feigned a defender and then found his BFF.

In what may seem unlikely to some – Lindgren then went top shelf with his highlight-reel goal.

Of note: While #55 has earned his defensive-defenseman reputation, as well as his “heart-and-soul” label too; prior to reaching the NHL – he was known as a guy who could score.

We saw that tonight!

However, right after the goal – Motte was penalized for touching the puck with his glove during a faceoff.

Can you remember the last time when you saw that penalty called?

Me neither – although this was the right call – even if the officials let about 789678967896 other things go.

Goodrow, Vesey and Trouba owned this penalty kill – where once again – and for the fourth time – the Devils’ PP didn’t register one shot on goal.

No joke – this penalty kill was as strong, as hard and as excitable as Sam Rosen downing a 100-count pill bottle of Viagra.


3-0, GOOD GUYS, through forty minutes – and where the Rangers weren’t just the better team at 5 x 5 – but on both special teams too.

Here’s what I said at the time:

There’s so much praise and adulation to go around tonight. This is my way of telling you that the third line, just like everyone else besides Miller, were fantastic tonight. Lafreniere’s snarl was fully on display tonight, while Kakko would assist on Chytil’s empty-netter too!


Fox and Lindgren, who both owned the offensive box score tonight, were also amazing defensively, and as we saw during this opening minute, as they poo-poo’d away a Devils’ attack.

After this? Two words – CZAR IGOR.

In a span of the next four-minutes, the Rangers’ goalie stopped all of the big Devils – Hamilton, Meier, Hughes and Graves.

After that?

With 16:52 remaining, his best save of the game – an all-out robbery on the former Bolt, Ondrej Palat:


And I guess that’s why I’m extra tough on Miller tonight – because my favorite goalie and yours deserved a shutout tonight.

And yes, I know that a goalie shutout is an individual accolade (meaning that the only thing that matters tonight is the win) – but at the same time – I’d reckon to guess a large part of NHL shutouts, but not all, are mainly team efforts – and as we saw during this game.

But when CZAR IGOR was left to his own devices? Like Jon Taffer, he “SHUT IT DOWN!”

Following two more saves from CZAR IGOR; with 14:20 remaining, Panarin was left all alone in the slot – and where there wasn’t a Devil in-sight.

For whatever reason, the best scorer on the team opted to pass it to Lindgren – a turnover.

Again, this was another play that you don’t care about following the game; but yep, you know my spiel – had this been a close-game or a loss – then you’d be pissed-off about this.

But to be fair – Panarin did finish with two assists tonight and Ryan “Orr” Lindgren had previously beat Vanecek.

Following what felt like Goodrow’s tenth blocked shot of the game (Spoiler: He won’t be practicing on Wednesday!); with 12:51 to go – Graves hit the post – a fortunate <DING> for the Rangers.

While that was going on (and with a lot of traffic in front of CZAR IGOR too); Miles Wood high-sticked Miller right below the eye – and caught part of the defenseman’s nose too.

Despite Miller bleeding – and where he had to run to the locker room to get his nostrils stuffed with cotton balls by Rangers’ trainer, Jim Ramsey (arguably a HOF candidate when you think about it) – NO CALL.

This should’ve been a four-minute Rangers’ power-play, and say it with me – HAD THIS BEEN A CLOSE GAME OR A LOSS – THEN YOU’D BE PISSED-OFF ABOUT THIS.

And even with the 5-1 final – I’m still pissed about this – because after all – what’s to say that these officials get this right the next time this happens?

Blood on the ice – NO CALL – remember that.

To his credit, Miller never missed a shift.

HOCKEY PLAYER – and I really want to compliment him here since I’ve been rough on him tonight.

I’m firm but fair!

With 10:02 remaining – the frustration set in for the crappy home team.

Vanecek stopped Vesey, and following the save – ANOTHER fourth line scrum – where this time – a penalty was assessed – perhaps a make-up call following what happened to Miller – as McLeod was boxed for grabbing Motte’s visor.

(And when was the last time that you’ve seen this penalty called?)

While that was going down, Severson, who was cheap-shotting anything in Rangers’ white; refused Goodrow’s challenge for a fight, as #21 had enough of the defenseman’s nonsense.

What a Mary!

And what a power-play goal too, as scored by the franchise leader in this department, CHRISTOPHER JAMES KREIDER:



And I know what regular readers of this site must be thinking – you almost hit your daily 4-0 final score bet!

However, an act of foolishness from yours truly, as previous to this game’s commencement, I made the following (and ignorant!) decree:

The second when Kreider scored, my two buddies, who came over to my place to watch the game, the frequently mentioned “TEN O’CLOCK TOMMY” and “EDDIE WHISTLES;” in nanoseconds, immediately darted their eyes towards me.

I felt their stares as if they were daggers.

It was also at this time where my phone blew up – like a goal light behind Vanecek!

Long story short, since the only thing that matters is the Rangers winning – and not my filthy gambling habit – no one wanted a fifth Rangers’ goal than me – especially since I bet a shutout (for less money than what a +5500 4-0 final score would’ve paid out).

I’d get that fifth Rangers’ goal; thus preventing the “WHAT IF” and “IF ONLY” thoughts – but only after the Devils ruined CZAR IGOR’s NYET-NYET – and where 4-0 most likely would have hit if it weren’t for Miller.

At this point – the game was over.

However – enter K’Andre Miller to ruin my shutout bet – and more important than that – CZAR IGOR’s shutout!

For whatever reason, and with the Rangers attacking; Miller forced a pass to Tarasenko while at the blue line – a horrible turnover – and one that also was unnecessary.

(Again – the official statisticians didn’t “credit” #79 with one turnover tonight.)

This then allowed Hughes to go on an all-day breakaway – and rather than letting CZAR IGOR try to make the stop with the Blueshirts on his heels – Trouba hooked/slashed/interfered/held (you could’ve called any of the four) Hughes.

And to be clear – I’m not blaming Trouba – you totally understood why he did this.

Furthermore, in real-time, he didn’t know that a penalty shot would be awarded, and with the Rangers’ PK 4-4 at the time, and where they didn’t even allow a SOG either – he was playing the odds – and hoping for a fifth-and-final successful kill.

However, a penalty shot was awarded (the right call – and if thought otherwise – then you’re not being objective/unbiased) – and Hughes then beat CZAR IGOR – the lone blemish of his box score – but not one that anyone should give two shits about.

4-1, good guys.

Of course it was Hughes – but thankfully – since Rosen & Micheletti didn’t fawn over him all game – this didn’t drive you up a wall.

And since I always like to praise anybody if I’ve previously buried them for what I felt was a slight and/or error – Sam and Joe were great tonight – even if the HOF announcer butchered names at time – the expected.

Long story short – NOT ONCE, did you ever feel that Sam & Joe were praising the other team – something you couldn’t say during many games this season.

It’s also why I stuck with them for the entire broadcast; as by the first intermission – yours truly, and my pair of pals, flipped to the Toronto/Tampa game – a 7-3 thrashing of the Leafs – and one that I enjoyed!

(As mentioned/explained many times befor on this site, I love the Leafs’ first-round curse and I hate analytics too – so watching the most analytical g.m. of the league today, Toronto’s Kyle Dubas, take this loss on the chin was a nice bonus while watching this Rangers’ victory!)

To reset, the score was now 4-1, GOOD GUYS, and with 2:46 remaining.

Once the Devils took possession of the puck; Vanecek went to the bench.

Before the goalie could even pull one splinter out of his ass, and before I could tweet out “COME ON CZAR IGOR, GET THAT EMPTY NETTER;” Fox found Kakko, the Finn found the Czech, and bada-bing-bada-boom – Chytil sent all Devil fans out of the room with 1:58 remaining.



1-0 in the series!

Despite writing 10,000 words tonight in what will be the longest and most-detailed recap of this game that’s out there; I still feel that I’m short-changing several Rangers tonight.

This was an absolute TEAM-WIDE VICTORY – where everyone shined besides you know who.

Just a few more observations before going to the TURK TALK, and we can bullet-point all of them:

— For people like me, who DESPISE the “FLAT EARTH TURKERS;” I think it’s safe to say that GALLANT DOES KNOW WHAT HE’S DOING.

— And to think – some people are still upset with Gallant for benching the malcontent, the bust, Vitali Kravtsov!

— I know that many, including myself, were nervous about this game, especially when it came to the talking point of, “you just can’t turn it on.”

— You can read the archives and past GAME REVIEWS on this site for more; but I did feel that the win over Tampa was the Rangers’ way of acing their final test of the regular season – but at the same time – I was hoping for better hockey during the final games.

— Whether you want to use the “E-WORD,” as in EXPERIENCE or not; this much is true – the elder Rangers did turn it on – and where all of those blah losses to St. Louis, Buffalo, Toronto, and etc – and as I said they would be – are of no consequence – and are now forgotten.

— While it’s been Tarasenko who has been more impressive than Kane (even if #88 did pick up an assist tonight); shouldn’t that be the case – at least somewhat? After all, VT91 had an extra month in NY under his belt – and perhaps isn’t dealing with a hip-injury either.

— As you know, I’m a Rangers’ historian – a title first bestowed upon me by the only historian that matters – Stan Fischler. I’m also a life-long and diehard fan – and where I’m biased towards players who have spent their whole career here. In other words, to see Fox and Kreider make franchise history tonight – I’m very proud – and I know that sounds weird!

— While you can say that the American-born Rangers dominated tonight, and as they did (except for you know who); every nationality kicked ass – whether they be Russian, Finnish, Swedish, Czech, Canadian or otherwise.

— And that’s what makes hockey the best – because of the four major sports – there’s more diversity in the NHL than anywhere else – and it all comes together under one banner.

— Put it this way, and much like pro wrestling, where I wouldn’t know where Samoa was on the map without the WWF; if it wasn’t for the NHL, then I don’t think that I could accurately pin-point where the Czech Republic was on the globe!

Here’s my favorite coach and yours, THE TURK, following the big win:

Gallant, without throwing shade at Miller, talking about Sam & Joe, nor exalting himself either – pretty much said everything that I said during the GAME REVIEW – where he praised the team-wide effort, the shot blocking, his players, the goalie and the special teams.

As we go home here – yes it’s true – it’s only one win. Three more are required in order to advance to the next round.

Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if you win one playoff game via a blowout or in triple overtime – they all count the same.

You know what I’m getting at – the Rangers must keep it going.

And this is also 100% true, and a topic that doesn’t present a debate either – there’s no such thing as a “house money game” during the playoffs.

Yes, the Blueshirts turned the tables tonight – and while all of the pressure is on the Rangers to win the series – at the same time – all of the pressure is now on the desperate Devils to win Game 2.

As they did tonight – the Rangers must kick the Devils’ dicks in on Thursday night.

And that’s not up for debate either!

SITE NEWS: Unless something incredibly extraordinary takes place during the off-days; then throughout this series, I’ll only post blogs following the games.

In turn, you now know my schedule – a manifesto posted around 2AM EST – and a groggy morning for me on the off-day!

(I only sleep 3-4 hours a day anyway, so I should be good!)

After all – this site is a hobby – not my job – nor do I get paid to do this! (Donations for my beer fund and 4-0 bets are always accepted though – but not required!)

I also don’t run ads here – despite many offers to do so. (Unless someone blows me away, as the Rangers blew out the Devils tonight – then I’m not running ads on this site – ever.)

And this too – LGR!

And this brings us to…

PLUGS TIME! (Buy a book and support my playoff ticket and beer funds! After all, I don’t run ads on this site!)

On Monday night, our pals at “The Blueshirt Underground Show” returned with a new episode. To check it out, click the play button below:

Also on Monday night, our other buddies, “2 Guys 1 Cup,” returned with a new episode.

The show is usually uploaded to wherever you normally get your podcasts, but as of this writing, it isn’t up on iTunes yet. However, you can find the video version on Facebook, by clicking this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/228102235825482

The hardcover version of my first book, available now at Amazon.com

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:

Order “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden” Book Today

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:

2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview; First-Round Predictions, In-Depth Look at Rangers vs Devils; Gallant v. Ruff, Heads of Blueshirts’ Alumni Already Rolling in the Metro; Pens, Caps, CBJ & Flyers Make Changes & More

The 2022-23 New York Rangers Final Report Card: Grades & Reviews of Every Blueshirt, Season In-Review, All of the Highs & Lows, Jacob Trouba’s Emerging “Legacy” as Team Captain, “THE TURK,” Playoff News & More

NYR/TOR 4/13 Review: Rangers Lose a Meaningless, Yet Bad-Taste-In-Your-Mouth Finale; Draw Devils in the First-Round, Big Break for Isles Too, Lindgren, Mika & Chytil Round-Out Year-End Awards, Playoff Predictions, Final Report Card, M$GN; Get Ready to Muzzle Rosen, “TURK TALKS” & More

If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:

Now on sale!

Don’t forget to order my recently released 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.


Sean McCaffrey


@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine

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