Rangers Prepare For a Pivotal Do-Or-Die Game 5 with the Devils; Gallant Calls Out Zibanejad & Panarin, Hypocritical NHL Policies; Open Practices/Closed Door Injury Info, Boomer Besmirches Blueshirts’ Bench Boss, “TURK TALKS” & More

While the Blueshirts are neither mathematically, nor technically, in a “MUST-WIN” situation just yet, and despite their recent history under head coach Gerard Gallant; it does feel, and reminiscent to last season – that the team is in another “DO OR DIE” state of “RANGER DANGER.” Needless to say, there are a lot of feet on the ledges of Rangerstown, USA – and where only a Game 5 victory on Thursday night will get these people to come down from their bird’s-eye view positions.

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. How’s your stomach feeling?

During my Rangers vs Devils first-round series preview blog, I mentioned how “Pepto Bismol” had returned to my diet. How am I feeling today you may ask? The answer? The following:

As I write these words – I might have to start attending “Indigestion Anonymous” meetings. I’m popping these pink pills as if they were Tic-Tacs!

And isn’t it amazing Suzyn, that when you really think about it – how the majority of these over-the-counter upset stomach combatants all end with a vowel?

Whether it’s Pepto, Mylanta, Kaopectate, or the ever-popular Broschi (I think they are Sicilian); it seems like the Italians have this anti-diarrhea market cornered!

And yes – I use humor to mask dark times – so I don’t need a reminder about “Immodium” either – where to be fair, and more times than not, “-um” is the pluralization of the letter “a!”

Furthermore, the real reason why most of these medications end with a vowel?

Their names are rooted in Latin. The more you know! You see, you learn something on this site!

(And who else can spin a rant about diarrhea medication into Latin conjugation/germane!)

When I think of the Rangers’ current predicament, I’m reminded of someone who I used to know during my days in the wrestling business, “The Iron Sheik!” Photo Credit: RF Video

As talked about in-depth following the events of Monday night’s Game 4 (https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/42423/ ); Gerard Gallant, “THE TURK,” gave his fieriest interview of these playoffs yet – as he called out his top players – but not by their names.

A day later, Tuesday, the Rangers had the day off – as mandated by the league’s C.B.A. – and I’ll have more on this in just a bit.

Truth be told, I thought a day away from the rink was probably the best thing for the team; as everyone, including the head coach, just needed to get away, recharge, reset and get their minds right.

What’s done is done, and you can’t do the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” act following the results of the two games played on M$G ice.

However, and despite his players having a 24-hour “time-out;” Gallant, via a ZOOM call from his office, was required to talk to the media.

As mentioned many times on this site during the past two-weeks – there’s really not much for Gallant to say right now – especially since he’s been saying everything that needs to be said during his post-game interviews.

Plus, at this juncture of the season – talk is cheap.

Actions speak louder than words.

In what wound up being an exclusive “TURK TALK” for the media (this interview, unlike the ones that we normally see – wasn’t uploaded to the Rangers’ social media pages), saw the head coach say the following:

When asked about no goals from Panarin & Zibanejad: “For me, it’s the top-six forwards. They gotta be a lot better. They got to be more productive. In this business, as we all know, it’s not what you’ve done yesterday. It’s what you’re going to do the next game.”

When asked about Zibanejad’s spot/role on the power-play: “I’m not going to say if we get three power plays, he’s going to be in that spot the whole time. But there’s sort of a rover type of thing. Maybe you can switch him and Panarin a little bit. They know when they can do it.”

(Quote Credits: NY Post)

When I read that Gallant had called out both Panarin and Zibanejad by name, it felt like the head coach was nicely paraphrasing “The Iron Sheik” – which is funny – as the former WWE World Champion & Hall of Famer, “The Iron Sheik,” shares Iranian heritage with Zibanejad himself!

(Zibanejad’s father has Iranian blood, which explains his black hair, as most people from a Swedish background, as “MIKA’S MOMMA” is from Sweden, have blonde or light-brown hair.)

During the peak of the wrestler’s craziness, which then led to many appearances on “The Howard Stern Show,” “The Iron Sheik” would routinely ask anyone with a pair of ears (and he would’ve asked the one-eared Vincent Van Gogh the same – heck – he would’ve asked this to Helen Keller too!), the following question:

“Are you the man, or are you a no good piece of shit!?!?”

For both the Iranian-Swede Zibanejad, and the Russian-born Panarin – they’ll get a chance to answer that question on Thursday night, during Game 5.

They’ll also have to keep answering that question for the remainder of these 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As noted several times on this site since the commencement of this series – it’s up to the two highest-paid forwards on this team, Mika & Panarin, to put pucks into the net. Whatever they did during the regular season means nada. Simply stated – for all of their greatness during all of their regular season games played – legacies are only defined by what you do in the playoffs. Just ask Stephane Matteau.

If this picture looks familiar to you, then it should be – as I ran this picture several times during the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Both sad and needless to say – down 3-1 through four-games played against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first-round last year – both Zibanejad & Panarin were struggling, and the former without a goal to his name – and just like this year – against inferior goaltending too.

Whether it was Craig DeSmith, Louis Domingue, Vitek Vancek and now Akira Schmid; the Rangers’ heralded 1-2 scoring punch, over $20M in salary cap dollars (and have I mentioned that Panarin is the highest-paid winger in the league?) – neither #93, nor #10, have anything to show for it.

Of course, everyone associated with the Rangers – the players, the coaches, the fans, whoever – are all rooting for a famous adage to once again rise to the surface – “history repeats itself.”

If you recall, after finding themselves in a 3-1 hole to the Penguins last season, Zibanejad scored two goals in Game 6 and one more in Game 7 – which then set-up Panarin’s eventual overtime game-winner.

But of course – every season is independent of one another – and no one should bank on “deja vu” either.

Furthermore, while some of the individual struggles are still the same – these two series, in comparison, couldn’t have played out any more different.

Do I have to spell it out?

For those with foggy memories, here you go:

Last year, the Rangers opened the playoffs at home and soon split the pair of games, 1-1. They then lost the next two games on the road, before mounting their three-straight wins first-round series comeback.

This year, the Rangers had the best possible scenario prior to Game 3, as they blew out the Devils in Games 1 & 2 by identical scores of 5-1 – and while on the road no less.

Once returned to M$G, and with a chance to sweep the series, or at the very least, end this series early; the Rangers “capitalized” on these circumstances by only scoring one goal a piece in their two home games, Games 3 & 4.

What could’ve been done with early, thus giving the Rangers some much needed rest & relaxation in-between series’; is longer no more.

This series is now going at least six-games – and perhaps very likely to another Game 7 – where if you’re rooting for history to repeat itself – then you’re already aware that the Rangers won both of their Game 7’s last year.

But should history repeat itself – then you’re also aware of how taxing these extra playoff games can be – and how the team found themselves burnt out during the latter games of the 2022 Eastern Conference Final – and where to keep the “history repeats itself” theme going – also plagued the Henrik Lundqvist Era of Rangers.

CZAR IGOR has been phenomenal during this series. The team in front of him during games played at M$G has not been. Photo Credit: NYR

Go figure:

Currently, CZAR IGOR ranks third-best among all NHL playoff goalies in both GAA (1.44) and save percentage (.941) – yet that isn’t enough.

And yep, ever since the Devils exchanged goalies – Arika Schmid is at the top of both of these statistics (.091 GAA and a .966 save percentage).

Crazier than that?

While Schmid has played well, and as the numbers would suggest; it’s not like the Rangers have challenged him much either – and as Gallant made all too clear during his past three “TURK TALKS.”

Seriously – can you think of three “GAME CHANGING” saves that Schmid has made during his two plus games of work?

I can think of two – the early saves made on both Kakko and Lafreniere during the early stages of Game 4 – where yep, you know it – following the pair of stops – Jack Hughes then scored.

Heading into Game 5 – the obvious – the Rangers must get to Schmid – and Zibanejad & Panarin must get rolling too.

While “THE FLAT EARTH TURKERS” are getting loud right now; I still remain faithful in my support of Mr. Gallant!

On Wednesday, following the team’s day off and Gallant’s ZOOM call; the team reconvened for practice at their facility in Tarrytown, NY – and prior to their upcoming night that would be spent in a hotel room.

If anything “concerned me,” or at the very least, “made me think;” then it was in the fashion in how the Rangers’ beat reporters covered the practice.

And keep this in mind – unlike my previous rants about the beat reporters – I am not blaming them for anything at all. They are doing their jobs – and as allowed by both the NHL and the C.B.A.

During the practice, every Rangers’ beat reporter live-tweeted, and in real-time, every minutiae of what the team was doing.

Whether it were the lines (the starting line-up from Games 1-4), the power-play adjustments, who cut their hair, who farted, or whatever else you can conjure up; everything that the Rangers were doing was out there on Twitter.

All of this struck me as hypocritical – and again – not on behalf of the reporters – but on Gary Bettman and company themselves.

Just think about it.

This is a league that whenever a player suffers a concussion, has a limb severed or is shot by a gun; then in a response, all 32-coaches will say, “Player X is day-to-day, he has an upper-body injury.”

Furthermore, despite this league being in bed with 78967896789686896 different gambling partners – teams/head coaches aren’t required to announce their daily line-ups, nor their starting goaltender.

In comparison, look at the NFL, the first league to embrace gambling – and where it can be argued that gambling (and in all of its forms – fantasy, straight bets, boxes, etc) has turned them into the teflon juggernaut that they are today.

After all, and seemingly every day, there’s another story about a player from the National Felony League committing a crime – and whether its murder, child abuse, dog-killing rings, spousal smack-downs, drug dealing, or something else – the NFL never misses a beat.

The NFL closes their practices (I think you may be aware of “Spy-Gate”) – and where head coaches must also release injuries and the health statuses of every player.

The NHL, which has a habit of doing things ass-backwards, allows everyone to view their practices – while giving everyone, including the people they beg to bet on these games, the silent treatment on the health statuses of their players.

Long story short – it was revealed at practice that Gallant would be starting the same line-up that he’s been using throughout these playoffs during Game 5 – and the alterations to the recent 0-11 power-play too – where Mika was back in his “office,” while Kane spent some time at the bumper position.

In other words – the Devils can now prepare for the predictable Mika one-timer again.

Whoever it is, and whether it’s Chris Kreider again or another Blueshirt – someone needs to score whenever the Rangers are in man-up situations.

Following a Wednesday practice that was aired to the world; “THE TURK” met with the media again.

Here is what Gallant had to say:

To his credit, after blowing off some steam during his previous two “TURK TALKS” (which I thought was a motivational tactic anyway); Gallant was back to his usual cool, calm and collected self.

Gallant brought up what was written on this site on Monday night – the abundance of road wins during these 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, where in the last fourteen games played – the road team has won thirteen of them.

While that’s a nice little stat, and it’s true – there’s no such thing as a home-ice advantage anymore – at the same time, and needless to say – the Rangers can’t bank on that heading into Game 5.

Gallant also brought up the differences in the eras, where he said that he felt home-ice advantage was huge during his days as a player, but not as a head coach – as presently, he doesn’t see home-ice as a factor at all – except during a Game 7.

(As mentioned earlier, the Rangers went 2-0 last year during Game 7’s – one on M$G ice and one on the road in Carolina.)

“THE TURK,” while not singling-out anyone as he previously did, then reiterated everything that he had previously said – the team must get to Schmid, power-play goals are crucial, and that his team must go back to doing what they did during Games 1 & 2.

Of note, and maybe this is yours truly being a “conspiracy theorist;” after being called out by Gallant, neither Zibanejad nor Panarin addressed the media.

Instead, “team-leaders,” such as Filip Chytil and Tyler Motte, did speak to the media.

(You can find all of the interviews here: https://www.youtube.com/@nyrangers/videos)

I thought that was kind of telling – but admittedly – maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill here.

But it was noticeable.

Win-or-lose on Thursday night, the face-value get-in price for Saturday night’s Game 6 elimination game (it’s an elimination game for either the Rangers or the Devils), will run fans $457.95. Photo Credit: TicketMaster

Just a few quick thoughts before wrapping up:

— The information for Saturday’s Game 6 has been announced. It will be an 8PM (in reality, 8:17PM) puck drop at M$G – and where the game will be exclusively aired on ESPN.

Of note – this series has produced the highest television ratings of the first-round. This game should eclipse the previous highs – should you care about such things.

— Don’t take my words about Zibanejad and Panarin to be “damning.” I’m just talking about the facts – facts that I wish were fiction.

Again – these two need to step-up, and due to their lack of production – this is another grueling series for this “TURK ERA” of Rangers.

— Did anyone else hear WFAN’s Boomer Esiason (who is also a Rangers’ season-ticket holder) make fun of Gerard Gallant’s speech impediment on Tuesday? (https://www.audacy.com/wfan/sports/rangers/boomer-esiason-rangers-gerard-gallant-getting-outcoached?utm_campaign=www.audacy.com%252Fwfan&utm_content=1682445805&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_term=WFAN-AM )

Listen, I’m not above coming up with my own corny nicknames either (cough, Vagistat, cough), and to be fair – my buddies over at “The Blueshirt Underground Show” have been referring to Gallant as “Elmer Fudd” for some time now too.

However (and yes, maybe this is my own bias), I have never felt that the guys over at “BSU” have been mean-spirited whenever saying “Elmer Fudd” – and where the quote, “GIVE IT A BWEAK MOWWIE,” has been very entertaining for the past eighteen or so months.

But for Boomer Esiason, who is definitely more high-profile than both yours truly and “BSU” to bring up Gallant’s speech impediment because of a loss (and to be clear – I have been told by a speech pathologist that Gallant does have one – not that it matters) and then mock it?

I wonder how he’d feel if someone mocked someone with cystic fibrosis?

And to be clear – I’m not suggesting that anyone should do that. In fact, the opposite.

(Boomer’s son has that condition – one that he’s successfully battled his whole life – and where Esiason, through his son, Gunnar, has brought positive attention, via charity/fund-raising events, for other people with cystic fibrosis.)

However, when it comes to flip-flop Boomer (he once told me that I was dead-wrong about my opinions in regards to Henrik Lundqvist’s last contract – only to then share these exact same opinions two-years later – and no, there was never an apology or “you were right, I was wrong” issued to me either – the way it works in the land of sport shock-jocks) – I think we can all admit that he’s been a bad parent!

After all, the life-long Rangers’ fan (he even gave one of the eulogies at Rod Gilbert’s funeral, as Boomer wore #7 throughout his NFL career in homage to “Mr. Ranger”) allowed his daughter to marry an Islander! (Matt Martin.)


(And yes, because I know that people like to twist my words around – I AM JOKING! Or am I? <Insert Christmas Grinch .gif here!>)

— Speaking of “little brother,” the Islanders did the Rangers (and I guess to give you the whole story – the Devils too) a favor on Tuesday night, when they beat the Hurricanes during their Game 5.

The Canes now lead the series 3-2.

I know that no self-respecting Blueshirts backer ever wants to see the Islanders win – but now – it won’t be the worst thing in the world should that series go seven-games.

A quick five-game takedown of the Isles would’ve given the Canes, who are very beat-up right now, over a week of rest and preparation in advance of the second-round.

But admittedly, I am looking too far ahead – the Rangers must first vanquish the Devils before even thinking about the second-round – thoughts that seemed automatic just a week ago.

— A loss on Thursday night, Game 5, won’t be the final nail in the coffin – as we’ve seen these Rangers, under Gallant, comeback from these situations time-and-time again.

But of course – no one wants to see the Blueshirts have their backs pinned against the wall either.

— I will admit, and as you’d suspect, I am extremely nervous right now.

One thing on my mind, which isn’t getting much play elsewhere, is CZAR IGOR.

While I do preach a glass half-full outlook on this site; I’m also keenly aware that very rarely, does a goalie have a flawless showing during an entire Stanley Cup run.

The concern? CZAR IGOR has been near-perfect thus far, only surrendering two-even strength goals all series.

Can he keep this up, or is he due for one bad game – where one bad game could be all the difference in this series, now a Best-of-Three?

— Going into the series, and just like any other playoff match-up, the phrase/term of “X-FACTOR” was regularly bantered about.

Four games in? The Rangers’ X-Factor? Perhaps Adam Fox.

When he picks up a point, the Rangers win.

When he goes without a point, the Rangers lose.

While this is somewhat of an elementary observation, and does ignore what everyone else is doing; it’s also a truthful one.

The Devils have done a good job of shutting down Fox during the past two games, and in turn, the Rangers have been weakened.

I suspect that should the Rangers win on Thursday night – you’ll see a point (most likely two or more of them) next to Fox’s name in the box score.

For the Rangers to win this series, they’ll at least have to win one game on the road. And wouldn’t it be nice if they can win Game 5 – and then close out on home ice during Game 6? For a franchise now using the slogan (and selling it on t-shirts) “TIME TO EAT;” it’s up to a player – and not the announcer – to wolf down some Devil Dogs.

See ya tomorrow night with a Game 5 review – and yes – that extra half-hour tacked to the start time (7:30PM rather than the traditional 7PM) is absolutely excruciating!


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

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:

NYR/NJD R1G4 4/24 Review: Devils Even Series; Force Game 6, Gallant Tears Apart Team Leaders Following Loss; “FAT CAT WASTELAND,” Baba No More, Road Warrior Rangers’ Biggest Test Yet; A Brutal 72-Hour Waiting Period, CZAR IGOR vs KING HENRIK, M$GN & More

NYR/NJD R1G3 4/22 Review: Devils Force a Game 5; Survive in OT, Rangers’ 0-5 Power Outage Dooms Them; Special Teams (And Officials) Swing Games, Not a Loss To Be Concerned About, “Schmid Happens” (Har-Har-Har), Timo “The Crier” Meier, ESPN & Media = Horrible, “TURK TALKS” & More

NYR/NJD 4/20 R1G2 Review: Rangers Dominate the Down-and-Out Dirty Devils; Somehow Top Their G1 Performance, Another Team-Effort; Not One Weak Link (Besides Wes McCauley), Special Teams Swing Games (Especially Nasty Ones), Blueshirts Superior in Every Facet; Continue to Make History, M$GN, The “S-Word,” “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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