NYR/BUF 4/3 Review: Rangers Ruin Easter and Kravtsov’s Debut; NYR Lose a Game They Had To Win, Breadman Only Fat Cat To Resurrect & Score, Ullmark Denies Kravtsov of a “Disney Finish” & a “Hallmark Moment”, Regular Issues Plague NYR; Power-Play & Inability To Close Out Games Prevalent Again, 19 Games Left/Rough Stretch Ahead, “The First Round” Line & More From a Miserable Loss

On Saturday night, the night before Easter Sunday of 2021; the Rangers played the Sabres to another 3-2 final, where this time, the Sabres had their hands raised as the end result of a shoot-out. If you’re rooting for the playoffs, there is no silver lining to this game. If you’re a fan who is only concerned about player development, Vitali Kravtsov looked good in his NHL debut. And no, those aren’t Al Trautwig’s teeth in the Easter Bunny suit!

“Obviously, at this point in time of the season you need to win, you can’t get one point. We all look at the scores in our division because it’s such a unique year, but we just have to correct some of the things we didn’t do well tonight, because obviously, we have a big game coming up on Tuesday against Pittsburgh.” – Rangers head coach David Quinn, on 4/3/21, moments after the Rangers 3-2 shoot-out loss to the Buffalo Sabres.


“It’s obviously exciting for our organization that we have these young players playing regular minutes right now, but I don’t think many of us are thinking of that right now. We are thinking about the fact that we weren’t able to get two points tonight.” – DQ, again on 4/3/21, as he continues to push the message that the team wants to make the playoffs. A loss like this tonight doesn’t help. Of note here, I wonder if there is any talk out of Rangers owner James Dolan, regarding the playoffs? Even if the Rangers were to be “one-and-done” in the playoffs, playoff games are big money for owners, owners who are losing money this season.


“I thought he played well, engaged, played at a good pace and I actually liked that line for the most part. I was happy for him and thought he did a good job.” – DQ, one last time here, while talking about the debuting Vitali Kravtsov. Kravtsov almost had the game winning goal in this game, only for Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark to deny him, in what was pretty much a “robbery” save. I’ll say this a few more times tonight, but had this puck went into the net, Rangerstown, USA would’ve been like Times Square on New Year’s Eve, rather than looking like the puke and piss infested streets of Times Square on New Year’s Day.


Whatever knife joke, and/or reference you want to use here, is fine and acceptable. This Sabres win over the Rangers tonight is most likely the final dagger to the Rangers 2021 playoff hopes. The Rangers were just gutted after this loss. The Sabres knifed their way to victory. You get the point – the Rangers, as Jon Taffer of “Bar Rescue” would say – BLEW IT! Photo Credit: Resident Evil

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. The Rangers Father Fink’d it up and they Father Fink’d it up big time. There’s just no other way to describe this loss. Father Fink!

On Saturday night, following Boston’s 7-5 matinee victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins; the Rangers had to beat the Buffalo Sabres, in order to keep pace in the standings. Instead, the “Find-A-New-Way-To-Lose” Rangers did what they do best yet again, this time dropping a 3-2 shoot-out decision to the last place Buffalo Sabres. How the Rangers have identical season-series records (4-2) with both the first place Washington Capitals and the last place Buffalo Sabres (and a Sabres team that has had a historical losing streak this season) is beyond me.

Yeah, the Rangers do get a point in the standings as a result of this loss. However, this loss was like getting getting a 6 inch COVID-19 anal swab in your five-hole rather than a foot long COVID-19 anal swab. Either way, it hurts.

Not to sound like a broken record here, but I never do the “MUST-WIN” stuff unless it’s mathematically applicable. However, with only 19 games remaining of this 2021 season, we’re getting there. While I think the Rangers playoff hopes originally went up in smoke with the Rangers two recent losses to the Penguins; prior to tonight, the Rangers were still outside looking in. There was still a shot. With this loss, it feels like these guys should now be polishing and dusting off their golf clubs.

And yes, while beating Pittsburgh and the Islanders two times each in the next week will help turn the tide, let’s face it – do you see that happening? As was evident in their last two games played, this Rangers team can’t even beat Buffalo in a sixty minute game. In addition, the Bruins still have three games in hand over the Rangers and in order for the Rangers to make the playoffs, they’ll need outside help.

As repeated ad-nauseam on this site – the Bruins do handle business with Buffalo, a Buffalo team that the Bruins still have six games remaining with. (Of note, up next for the Rangers are two games with the Penguins on Tuesday and Thursday, followed up by two games with the Islanders, which will be played on Friday and Sunday.)

It should also be stated here, that the Rangers only have two three-game winning streaks this season, where both streaks deserve an asterisk. During both of those winning streaks, the Rangers beat the Sabres once. The Rangers then handled the Devils and the Flyers during their respective lowest points of the season. In other words, the Rangers have not put together one three-game winning streak this season against the playoff contenders of this division. Making matters worse, the Rangers would’ve had their third three game winning streak of the season with a win tonight, but failed to do so. This loss is a complete failure.


There were a bunch of different reasons why the Rangers choked away this game, but blaming Kakko for over-skating himself to nowhere during a shoot-out shouldn’t be the first, second, third or even tenth featured reason. The Rangers blew this game way before this point. Photo Credit: NHL.com

There’s no way to positively spin this game. This was a death-blow type of loss, even with the Rangers receiving the loser’s point. If you choked away another late one-goal lead to a top team in the division, that would’ve softened the blow a little bit. It just would’ve been easier to accept. To choke two consecutive leads in games, to the last place Sabres, and with just under four minutes to go in each game; well it’s simply unacceptable. And while the Rangers did get a power-play goal in this game, for the second time in as many games, and with the Rangers looking to either extend their lead or break the tie, the Rangers blew two chances while on their power-play. AND LET’S PUT THIS IN CAPSLOCK AND BOLD PRINT FOR EMPHASIS – THE RANGERS LOST TO THE LAST PLACE SABRES, LOSERS IN THEIR PREVIOUS 19 OF THEIR LAST 20 GAMES PLAYED.

As you may have figured out, I’m not what you’d call “ecstatic” right now. Let’s breeze through this game, because really, who wants to re-live this crap-show? That said, at least Kravtsov had a solid debut, a debut which I’ll soon get into.

Up first tonight, in my attempt to rapid-fire through this blog, the PLUGS segment.

Here are my last few blogs in case you missed them:

NYR/BUF 4/1 Review: Rangers Escape and “Whew” By the Sabres; NYR’s Top 1-2 Punch Records the KO Blow, Kakko Turning The Corner; Best 60 Minute Game Yet, The Strominator Continues His Epic Streak, CZAR IGOR Keeps on Rolling, DQ vs TOI Stats; DQ vs Young Reporters, Ron Duguay’s “Up in the Blue Seats” Podcast Recap w/Sam Rosen, Kravtsov & Blackwell, Lemieux Wanted Out, Winning vs Developing, Boogieman & More


NYR/WSH 3/30 Review: Rangers Bounce Back With Another Four Goal Third Period; CZAR IGOR Stands Tall Among All, The Strominator, The Breadman, Kakko in the Middle & a “Fox Trot” Lifts NYR, Kinkaid on Twitter, Adam Fox Unites Rangerstown, USA, M$GN Broadcast, Smith vs Wilson, “Shut Up Ovi”, Handling Biz in Buffalo, Pets & More


NYR/WSH 3/28 Review: The “Days Of Our Lives” Rangers Continue Their Soap Opera; Season Rapidly Going Through The Hour Glass, The Return of DQ and Bad NYR Habits; Rangers Continue To Find New Ways To Lose, Questionable Coaching Decisions, Blackwell’s Birthday Goals, Update on Brendan Lemieux; Tony DeAngelo Comments, Fox Hunt & More


 

Vitali Kravtsov made his long awaited debut in tonight’s loss. Photo Credit: NYR

The only news story prior to tonight’s game, and a major one at that, was the debut of Vitali Kravtsov. Ninety minutes prior to the game, the Rangers and DQ made it official – Kravtsov would play in his first ever NHL game.

As I predicted, as you predicted and as pretty much everyone else damn near predicted – Kravtsov began his NHL career on the third line. In something else that I think everyone pretty much predicted – Phillip DiGiuseppe was the odd-man out. You could see this coming from a mile away, as I talked about last blog. (DQ always punishes/scratches players after a bad penalty if the opportunity arises. Heck, that’s what pretty much led to the end of Tony DeAngelo here.)

Prior to the game, DQ said the following about the Rangers first round pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft:

“The number one thing you want them to do us enjoy it. There will be nerves. They’ll go away quickly once you get a couple shifts under your belt. Just play your game, don’t try to do too much, do the things that got you here and enjoy the moment.”

As I said on social media prior to the game, and as I’ve been saying all along on these blogs – I don’t/didn’t care about what Kravtsov’s time on ice would be. I was just happy to see him play. For what it’s worth, Kravtsov played 10:45 overall, which was the least TOI of any Ranger tonight. I’m sure some people will cry, bitch and moan & groan about that. I think a lot of the TOI complaints also trickles down from the MSGN themselves, as both Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti brought up Kravtsov’s TOI all game. At one point during the broadcast, and after a Kravtsov turnover in the third period, Micheletti wondered if Kravtsov would be stapled to the bench for the rest of the game. (He wasn’t.)

Kravtsov is obviously a hot topic, as Ranger fans love shiny new toys and because of Kravtsov’s status as the #9th overall pick of the 2018 NHL Draft. While I don’t know if Kravtsov necessarily feels this pressure, and with Oliver Wahlstrom having a great rookie season for the Islanders, a Wahlstrom the Rangers passed up on in order to draft Kravtsov; for the Rangers front-office and for Ranger fans themselves, you want to see success out of Kravtsov right away, even if those expectations may be unrealistic. There will always be a transition period for a rookie, and especially for a rookie that’s coming in from overseas.

After waiting for over a week, “SOON” was April 3rd, 2021. Photo Credit: NYR

As far as the “one-game evaluation” of Kravtsov, I thought he played well. We all know it’s tough for any rookie to join this league, especially in their first game. I’ll also tell you what – out of the Rangers most recent first round draft picks within the first ten picks of the draft, draft picks which include Lias Andersson, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere; I thought Kravtsov had the best debut of the lot of them. Of course, that being said, this is only one game.

In tonight’s game, Kravtsov was noticeable during many of his shifts, including his final one in the third period. It took some goaltending magic from Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark, in order to deny Kravtsov of a Disney ending to this game.

And really, isn’t it amazing Suzyn, how one little play, in this game of inches and puck luck, can swing your own personal emotions? Had Ullmark not made this spectacular, or dare I say FABULOUS, save, you’d have people streaking buck-naked throughout the streets of Rangerstown, USA right now. No joke, Kravtsov almost had the game-winner tonight. Had that puck went in, the positivity around this team would’ve been contagious and would’ve single-handedly defeated the coronavirus. Instead, Ullmark’s horse-shoe in his five-hole shined bright and he destroyed what would’ve been a most memorable “Hallmark Moment”, for the newest Rangers rookie.

Away from “what could’ve been”, Kravtsov was extremely noticeable on every shift. While it has taken Kakko nearly 100 games to embrace going to the middle and to the paint, there was no learning curve needed for Kravtsov tonight. I continually noticed him driving to the net, trying to screen Ullmark and looking for loose change pucks (or should I say “rubles”?) around Ullmark’s goal all game. Kravtsov also had three shots on goal in this game, tying him with other Rangers, for the second most amount of SOG during this contest.

Needless to say, even with this bad loss, a loss that would usually shake-up the lineup in the next game – I see David Quinn going right back to this line-up on Tuesday. And really, you’d have to be an idiot to think that Kravtsov would be coming out of the line-up too. Barring an injury or COVID-19, I see Kravtsov finishing out the string for the Rangers. Of course, as talked about on past blogs, I wouldn’t mind seeing him get a shot with Panarin and Strome either.


I think DQ pretty much has his roster set for a bit, that is, until the Rangers are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Once that day happens, I think at the very least, we’ll see Morgan Barron get a shot. Photo Credit: NYR

With Kravtsov in and PDG out, here were your lines for tonight’s shit-show:

FIRST LINE: Kreider/Mika/Buchnevich (Kreider, once again, was barely noticeable. Once again, he only had one shot on goal. That’s not enough. And I’m not hating, I’m just stating. Mika was back in “everything must go wide” mode. Buchnevich had my ire early, as I’ll soon get into.)

SECOND LINE: Panarin/Strome/Kakko (Panarin scored both Ranger goals tonight. Strome had his points and assists streak snapped tonight. Kakko continues to play well, looking good defensively and going to the middle when needed.)

THIRD LINE: Kravtsov/Chytil/Lafreniere (I thought for three guys playing together for the first time, that they had a good showing. All you can say is that the best is yet to come and these three did have an encouraging performance.)

FOURTH LINE: Blackwell/Rooney/Gauthier (Not a bad showing at all tonight, in the Rangers latest version of their patch-work fourth line. Blackwell continues to play well. And as expected, Gauthier is now a fourth liner, with Kravtsov on the main roster.)

Defensively, everything stayed the same as it’s been from the last few games. In addition, CZAR IGOR was once again in net, as expected.


GAMBLING segment time.

Here’s what I said before the game:

One of these days I’ll get this Igor prediction right. However, for here, the only thing that matters is the over-under, which I got right tonight. Whoop-de-do. I’m now 16-19-2 on the season.

BOX SCORE time.

The following information and graphics come from the new world-wide leader in NHL coverage, in ESPN.com.

SCORING:

PENALTIES:

GOALIES:

BUF
SA
GA
SV
SV%
ESSV
PPSV
SHSV
SOSA
SOS
TOI
PIM
30 2 28 .933 24 1 3 0 0 65:00 0

 

NYR
SA
GA
SV
SV%
ESSV
PPSV
SHSV
SOSA
SOS
TOI
PIM
29 2 27 .931 26 0 1 0 0 65:00 0

TEAM STATS:


Buchnevich has had a career season here in 2021, but like everyone else not named Adam Fox or Artemi Panarin, he’s also prone to bouts of inconsistency. Photo Credit: Kenny Albert

The MSGN pregame show remains horrible, but it was nowhere as bad as losing to the Father Finking Sabres.

Someone must’ve explained what the word “funnel” meant to Steve Vagistat on his way to NYC today, as he said the word “funnel” on the pregame show about as much as Micheletti uses the word “FABULOUS”. And oh, I have a new life mission – get a signed NYR puck by Micheletti, where he also writes the word “FABULOUS” on it. As I always say – you need to set high goals for yourself in life!

After bringing up his legendary 46 game career within the first 45 seconds of the broadcast, Vagistat told us how Igor is a starting goaltender. The eye-test would’ve told you that last season. Vally then babbled about how every NHL goaltender needs to stay healthy. You don’t say. I heard scoring goals helps teams win games too. Vally then added, that every NHL starting goalie should expect to start 55 games. Of course, this is a 56 game season, but we all know what Vally meant here. That said, it just goes to show you how important the back-up goaltending position has become in this era, as starting goalies, even as recent as just a few years ago, were going 65-70 games a season.

In what was funny, Giannone said Vally is obsessed with high danger chances, stats which never determine, predict or have any outcome on games. It’s a reactionary stat, and not an indicator of anything. In fact, during many NYR games this season, they’ve won a bunch of games, despite the other team having more high danger chances. In fact, the Rangers have also lost plenty of games in this manner too. As far as winning while losing the “HIGH DANGER CHANCES” game, just go back to that 8-3 win over Philly, for the most recent and best example of this.

As Vally was going on-and-on about butt funnels, (another “Bar Rescue”/Jon Taffer reference on this blog) the MSGN broadcast, once again and without fail, didn’t mention the line-up for this game. There was also no preview of what to expect on the ice either.

For what it’s worth, my keys to the game hit home again, where truly and admittedly, what I said was obvious – the Rangers needed a hot start and needed to execute on the power-play. While this is pretty simple stuff, more times than not, the K.I.S.S. theory always proves true and will always be more valuable than any of the made-up fake news stats crap out of the mouth of Vally.

I’ll never get these people obsessed with analytics. I rather slam beers and talk shit to you guys after games on this site, than whack off on my computer and make up worthless charts, graphs and hieroglyphics. These people will never comprehend the human element to hockey.


Similar to Kreider, it’s hard to really slam Mika for a Rangers loss during this second half of the season. However, tonight, when the Rangers needed Mika the most, Mika just kept putting shots wide all game. It’s one of the reasons the Rangers lost, as Mika had three really “HIGH DANGER” chances to extend the Rangers lead tonight. He didn’t and that helped the Sabres win. Photo Credit: Getty Images

This game started off well, where really, after Mika’s opening face-off win, the Rangers dominated the first ten minutes of the period. However, this period would be a tale of two halves, as the Sabres would then take control of the game in the final ten minutes of this first period.

After Vally told us during the pregame show how Ullmark rarely gives up rebounds; Ullmark would then give up four rebounds in the first ten minutes of this game, including a rebound that would lead to a Rangers power-play goal. In addition, a few weeks back, Vally’s comments on the sad state of the Sabres went viral. I wonder what they are saying about Vally in Buffalo now.

In our first rebound out of Ullmark, and in a play where I felt at the time changed the fate of this game, (tweets don’t lie!) Ryan Lindgren bombed a shot. Ullmark gave up a rebound, with the puck going to Buchnevich. DESPITE ULLMARK LEAVING THE NET WIDE OPEN AND BUCHNEVICH HAVING ALL DAY TO SHOOT, Buchnevich diddle-daddled and didn’t shoot the puck. This should’ve been 1-0 within the first 20 seconds of the game. Instead, Buchnevich gave Ullmark a huge pass. Who knows what would’ve happened had the Rangers got this early goal? It’s just mind-boggling that Buchnevich didn’t shoot this puck, but would then shoot six other pucks, which was a team-high. It’s just frustrating.

Vitali Kravtsov would make his NHL debut 1:48 into the game, where he was solid defensively and helped agitate the Sabres forecheck.

2:30 in, Ullmark gave up another rebound, this time to Blackwell, where Ullmark then denied Lindgren on the follow-up shot. Lindgren is still looking for his first goal of the season, which is a fact and doesn’t describe his worth to this team right now. (He’s the second best defenseman on the team for my money.)

In his second shift of the game, Kravtsov skated the puck right into the zone, rather than doing one of those early Sunday morning “lazy dumps”. Immediately, Kravtsov, after a pass, screened Ullmark and waited for a shot on net. It never came.

After this, it got hairy a bit, with Taylor Hall ultimately pulling a Mika, and going wide during a great opportunity to score. Igor would then stop Dahlin on a wraparound. As Micheletti was rambling on about Dahlin being a #1 overall pick, Rosen replied with one of his trademark “mooooooooooos”. (“Moo” credit, as always, to Jim S. of “The Blueshirt Underground Show”, which I believe will return this Monday night at 7PM. Check your local listings.)

As the game progressed, we had something like eight minutes of whistle-free and back-and-forth hockey. 9:38 into the period, Hall gave us our first whistle in a while, after taking down Chris Kreider. Hall was boxed for interference here and it looked like Kreider was hurt, as he was slow to get up. However, Kreider would regroup and looked fine for the rest of the game.

With the Rangers needing a power-play goal and really, just the lead in general, at the 10:02 mark of the period, Panarin finished off Ullmark, after Ullmark gave up another rebound:

1-0, good guys! Ugh, even using the exclamation mark here hurts, due to the final score.

On this goal, Fox passed the puck to Kreider. Kreider shot the puck, where it looked like he may have been trying to find Mika too. Mika didn’t touch the puck and the puck floated to Panarin, who was camped out on the side boards to the left of Ullmark. Panarin then ripped a shot while Ullmark was still out of position after making his initial save. Good things happen when you shoot the puck.

It should also be stressed that Fox got another assist here. (Fox would also later assist on Panarin’s second goal.) As a result, Fox now has 29 assists on the season.

And, to fast-forward some more here, on the post-game show, Vagistat said what I’ve been saying for a while now – Fox’s Norris chances will decrease if the Rangers don’t make the playoffs. This is sad but true, as all year-end awards usually reward guys on playoff teams. It’s why Taylor Hall won the MVP a few seasons back, rather than Connor McDavid. (I know I’ve said all this stuff before, but this blog continues to get new readers daily.)

One more time for the new readers – Fox remains my candidate for Team MVP, the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award and the Frank Boucher Fan Trophy.

After this Panarin PPG, this game then started to tilt, and in favor of the Sabres.

With the Sabres taking control, with 6:59 remaining in the period, Casey “Lias Andersson LOL” Mittlestadt tied the game, as the end result of a Sabres two vs one rush against Ryan Lindgren. Tough one for Igor here, on what was pretty much a 50/50 thing for a goaltender.

The new third line, the “First Round Draft Pick” line, of Kravtsov/Chytil/Lafreniere, continued to play well; where after Kravtsov got to the middle, Ullmark was forced to make a stop on Lafreniere. I’m looking forward to seeing how these guys click in the future.

I’ve talked about Ullmark’s rebounds a few times already. On the other end, CZAR IGOR gave up a ton of rebounds tonight. While none of the rebounds he gave up burnt him, this was definitely the most amount of rebounds CZAR IGOR has given up since returning from his groin injury. I don’t know if this is a stamina, fatigue or “one of those nights” issues, but with two days off now, at least he should be able to heal and feel strong on Tuesday. I bring this up, because after Ullmark’s save, CZAR IGOR would then make a save on Taylor Hall, where the puck bounced off of his glove, rather than Igor making the save cleanly as we’re now accustomed to.

The Sabres continued their long and butt-clenching shifts in the Rangers zone, where Tobias Reider of all people, blew by both Fox and Lindgren (I had to see a replay of this to believe it) and put a shot on net. Igor, thankfully, made the save.

With 7.5 seconds remaining in the period, the Sabres iced the puck, giving the Rangers a chance to win the face-off and blast the puck. Instead, the Sabres won the face-off and that was the end of the first period.

1-1 after twenty minutes, where I just couldn’t get that Buchnevich play out of my head.


After this Rangers loss, I may wear a paper bag over my head during my Easter Sunday family dinner. Photo Credit: Julianne Pelusi

After our regular comment of “SECOND PERIOD, WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR HERE JOE?” <A barrage of goals Sam!> the Rangers would get a power-play, just 55 seconds into the period. This was a great penalty drawn, as once again, Kaako drove to the middle of the ice and towards Ullmark, only for Colin “NO RELATIONS” Miller to impede Kakko’s progress with a trip.

In a rare showing, the PP2 unit kicked off the Rangers power-play, with Ullmark making a FABULOUS save on Buchnevich. After the PP2 unit failed to score, the first unit came on, where Mika and Kreider had a “Craigslist” missed connection. Had they connected, it would’ve been 2-1. In any event, the Rangers squandered this early opportunity, as the Sabres PK got their kill.

After the Sabres kill, Igor would be forced to make a difficult save on Montour, a Montour who has really stood out in every game against the Rangers this season. The Sabres kind of “Hulked Up” here, as like a 1980’s Hulk Hogan overcoming the odds, and after the Sabres penalty kill, this period was mostly all Sabres.

Again, and I bring this up because I really think this is important, both Kakko and Kravtsov kept driving to the middle. The goals will come if they keep playing like this. After a face-off in the Sabres d-zone, Kakko committed his only gaffe of the game, as he accidentally slashed Colin “NO RELATIONS” Miller, thus giving the Sabres a PP at the 14:23 mark of the period. Of note, you would never see this call in a playoff game.

The Sabres power-play would go on attack, where they were in the Rangers zone for 1:40. Ristolainen almost scored, but went a hair wide of making this game 2-1. Due to blocked shots and the Sabres shooting wide, the Rangers PK got out of this unscathed. However, at the 8 minute mark, which was 2:23 after Kakko’s penalty, K’Andre Miller was boxed for hooking “old friend” Steven Fogarty. This was another soft call.

The Rangers PK was much better here, as they had three clears in the first minute of this Sabres power-play. After the Rangers fourth clear on the PK, Jeff Skinner had a chance to score on a two vs one, but completely shat the bed. Right after, and with the teams back to full strength, CZAR IGOR made two more saves.

With 8:50 remaining in the period, and with the Rangers PKers still on the ice with the out-of-the-box Miller, Igor made a big save to get a stoppage. This was huge, as these guys were on the ice for a while and because the Rangers had three d-men on the ice.

After another Sabres two vs one rush, where this time, Asplund over-passed a streaking Montour, the Sabres continued their attack. In a period that was pretty much all Sabres after the Rangers failed on their early power-play, with 2:08 remaining, Panarin regained the lead for the Rangers:

2-1, good guys! Ugh, what could’ve been.

On this goal, Fox made a FABULOUS cross-ice pass, which Panarin took and defeated Ullmark with. This goal was huge, as the Sabres were dominating the Rangers, yet this goal gave the Rangers the lead. Unfortunately, it would be the last Rangers goal of this game. How the Rangers can routinely score 4+ goals a game against Boston, Philly, Washington and the Islanders, but can’t score more than two goals against the Sabres; well that is beyond me.

The Sabres would challenge this goal for an offside. To me, this did look offside, but the offside really had nothing to do with goal scored. This was a desperate challenge, and a challenge that failed. As a result, the Rangers got a late power-play and a chance to double-up their lead.

This power-play was particularly bad. I don’t know if Strome was trying to get an assist here to keep his assist streak alive or what, but he passed up on three different shooting opportunities during this power-play. Strome kept trying to find Mika and Kreider for deflection/tip-in goals, rather than just ripping a shot at Ullmark for a goal and/or rebound. The NYR PP1 unit were on the ice for 90 seconds here, but didn’t even get a SOG. In any event, another wasted Rangers power-play, where a PPG here would’ve perhaps given them the win.

Also worth mentioning – as stated, Strome had three potential “HIGH DANGER CHANCES”, but didn’t shoot. How do these stat geeks record these plays? Eye-test will always trump any chart!

With triple zeroes and the end of the period horn sounding, Trouba scored. However, upon review, it was determined that the goal was scored a second after the period had concluded. The New York Rangers, always a day late and a dollar short. Again, this could’ve been 3-1 here, but this shot didn’t come soon enough.

2-1 Rangers after forty minutes.


I had my “CZAR IGOR” good luck jersey on (I don’t have a man cave full of jerseys with teenagers all around me, as I just wear my jerseys!) but it didn’t work tonight. That said, I thought Igor played well, but these late goals allowed to Buffalo, even if they aren’t his fault, are just unsettling.

As the third period began, and as the Rangers were in another one-shot/one-goal game with the Sabres; all I could think of was – PLEASE NO 6X5 GOAL OR A GOAL ALLOWED WITH 3.6 SECONDS REMAINING. I wound up getting my wish, but unfortunately, that was because the Sabres would tie the game with 3:41 remaining in regulation. Ugh.

In another period full of missed chances, disgusting hockey and the Rangers never finding the next level; Fox would try to hook up with Kreider. That pass missed. Buchnevich, on the next shift of the first line, then tried to connect with Kreider on a home-run pass. That pass missed. Notice anything?

As the Rangers continued to make things hard on themselves, CZAR IGOR would stop Mittelstadt and Tage Thompson, a Tage Thompson who the Rangers just seem baffled by. It just felt like the Rangers were trying to protect their lead, rather than extend it.

CZAR IGOR would then make a big stop on Okposo, after the previously mentioned Kravtsov turnover. Okposo also blew by Smith and Hajek, but Micheletti focused all of his aggression on Kravtsov here, even saying that perhaps Kravtsov’s night should be over. Mook.

A Panarin turnover at the Rangers blue line would lead Igor to making another save on Okposo. Right after, Okposo and Lindgren got into it after the whistle, but nothing happened here. After all, with Okposo’s concussion history and having his ass whipped the last time he fought a Rangers d-man (DeAngelo) it made no sense for Okposo to challenge Lindgren here.

With 9:49 to go, CZAR IGOR continued to rack up the saves, this time stopping Thompson again.

In an example of another blown opportunity, with the Rangers attacking, Ullmark lost his stick. Even better for the Rangers, no Sabres d-man gave up their stick to Ullmark here. No matter – the Rangers didn’t put a shot on goal, with even Panarin missing on a one-timer.

With 5:34 to go, and the Rangers clinging on to their lead, while the asses of Ranger fans hung over their couch cushions; Ullmark stopped Kravtsov and Lindgren. Then, with four minutes remaining, and with the Sabres attacking, Taylor Hall put his team offside, as the result of some needless Harlem Globetrotters puck handling at the Rangers blue line.

Just as Sam Rosen started talking about the Sabres not scoring goals and was in “this game is over” mode, Victor Olofsson scored, while wide open right in between the two face-off circles in front of Igor. A pure goal from the slot. Tough to hang Igor here, as this was a point-blank blast during another long shift in the Rangers d-zone. 2-2 and you just had that sinking feeling inside of you while watching this.

At the two minute warning of the game, after Ullmark made a stop, this happened:

Hands-down, this was the save of the game, as Ullmark protected the tie and prevented the Rangers from gaining a late lead. I can’t overstate enough how had Kravtsov scored here, this would’ve changed everything. And let me be clear, this wasn’t Kravtsov’s fault. This was just Ullmark coming up huge. It was also at this point where you just hung your head, and did the Pedro Martinez “the Sabres are my daddy” routine.

Just as the third period was set to expire, for good measure, Mika went wide one more time, after a pass from Buchnevich.

2-2 after three periods.


My reaction at the end of this game. Photo Credit: NYR

Just like the game previous, the Rangers, behind Mika Zibanejad, took the opening face-off in the overtime. As the OT progressed, and I did say this as Trouba shot, Mika and Trouba had a two on one. This was a rare case where Trouba should’ve passed to the wide-open Mika, as perhaps had Trouba made this pass, we would’ve had some Mika Magic deja-vu. Instead, Trouba shot, and really, you can’t be mad about putting a shot on net. However, the pass was probably the smarter play here.

Again, I don’t do the TOI stuff, but I saw some fans complain about Kakko and Kravtsov not getting three vs three time, while Blackwell/Lindgren/Lafreniere did. Miller would then get on the ice, where after being caught on the ice for a long shift, Igor would bail him out.

As the OT neared its conclusion, Mika went wide one more time. Not good. Eventually, the overtime wouldn’t be enough and we’d go to a shoot-out. Of note, during the post-game show from Thursday, Vally said he was rooting for the Rangers to go to a shoot-out, bringing up Igor’s excellent save percentage during breakaways. This wouldn’t play true here.

In the shoot-out, the Sabres opted to shoot first, rather than taking “last licks”.

In round one, Igor would stop Olofsson. Ullmark would stop Panarin, after some razzle dazzle from the Breadman. In round two, Thompson beat Igor. Ugh. Ullmark would then stop Mika. In the final round, Igor would stop Mittlestadt. With the game now on the line, Kakko was put in the pressure spot, where Kakko over-skated and out-deked himself, losing the puck as he was going towards Ullmark. Ullmark was let off the hook here. The Sabres win the shoot-out 1-0 and the game 3-2.

There have been many bad losses this season, where that loss to the Devils after their COVID-19 issues really stands out as the worst to me. However, even with the point tonight, this Rangers loss feels just as bad as that one. They blew it. They choked. They gave it away. They let down all of their fans.


As noted on past blogs, some of you have asked me to do a 10K word manifesto on Jeff Gorton’s tenure as Rangers GM. With two off-days coming up, maybe I’ll try to do that blog within the next 48 hours. That said, right now I’m so pissed off that I don’t feel like writing anything else right now!

This sucked.

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


If you’re still holding on to the playoffs life preserver, the Rangers need to knock off Pittsburgh on both Tuesday and Thursday night.

One last time here, as I continue to get over the loss of my buddy the BOOGIEMAN – thanks for all the comments. I know many of you, especially grown men, want to do the “tough guy” stuff after the loss of a pet, and not say anything publicly. However, I did get about 60 emails or so from you guys, all expressing your thoughts on the loss of a pet. I appreciate it.

May your Easter, should you celebrate it (I’m a heathen atheist but I enjoy the family time) be FABULOUS. “OH JOE, THE EASTER BUNNY IS 2021 YEARS OLD JOE!” “SAM, THE EASTER BUNNY IS FABULOUS, ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS.”

Stay FABULOUS my friends.

RIP BOOGIEMAN

Until then, and as always here, thanks for reading and…

LET’S GO RANGERS!

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on Tweeter

 

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4 thoughts on “NYR/BUF 4/3 Review: Rangers Ruin Easter and Kravtsov’s Debut; NYR Lose a Game They Had To Win, Breadman Only Fat Cat To Resurrect & Score, Ullmark Denies Kravtsov of a “Disney Finish” & a “Hallmark Moment”, Regular Issues Plague NYR; Power-Play & Inability To Close Out Games Prevalent Again, 19 Games Left/Rough Stretch Ahead, “The First Round” Line & More From a Miserable Loss

  1. Well at least Kravtsov goes to the net.
    I lowered my expectations with Kravtsov to Lias Andersson levels after certain highly touted draft choices became ahem “slow starters” but now I am thinking maybe he will surprise me and do well.
    Let us hope so.
    What can you say, another game they needed to win that they frittered away.
    Vally had the most bizzaro stat yet……..a stat analysis of defenseman with one foot in one of the circles defending a 2 on 1 break.
    I mean who the hell even thinks of such a thing never mind compiling data on it?
    Maybe from a coaching perspective it could be instructive but for a game analysis it is useless.
    So it turns out The Moo was looking for greener pastures to graze on and requested a trade, I was wondering about that, the trade seemed so abrupt.

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