Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. I don’t know what to say.
However, and in the grand scheme of things – this series, this loss, and in hindsight – will forever be remembered in the same fashion as it were last year – they blew a 2-0 lead – and where Game 3, a chance to go up 3-0 – was the turning point.
But of course, the 5/27 power-play didn’t help matters either – where as a result, in the Rangers’ four losses of this seven-game set – they only scored two goals.
And in the effort of both full disclosure and unbridled honesty – you may find a ton of typos and grammatical errors tonight – as I fight back the tears, the diarrhea and the vomit.
While I’ll have a lot to say, and where this playoff failure will now always be remembered as one of the biggest “WHAT IF” questions of all-time (more on this below); when you break it all down, this series loss is the equivalent of a 1950s trope – your divorced dad returns to your childhood home, promises to take you on a big trip – then right before such said vacation – dad tells you that he has to go get some cigarettes – and some ice cream for you too – only to then never return – thus leaving you heartbroken and crushed for life.
(And no – this reference isn’t from any sort of personal experience. As said – it’s a trope. As many of you know, I have a great relationship with my “dear-old dad” – and where many of you have seen him with me at M$G – and perhaps at the Mollie Wee too! And this as well – the Devils were the Rangers’ daddies of this series. UGH!)
If you’re a regular reader of this website, then you already know that no one has been more “glass half-full” about this team more than me – and where that proverbial glass has overflowed the brim for some time now – and with both an abundance and enthusiastic amount of optimism.
Furthermore, and assuming that you are a regular reader of this website; then you also know that I’ve written many history books about my number one passion, my favorite hobby and my beloved pastime, the New York Rangers. (The links to purchase these books are located at the end of tonight’s obituary.)
My successful foray into the art of authoring also fostered a life-long friendship with one of the greatest historians that hockey has ever known, especially in the New York area, “THE MAVEN,” Stan Fischler – and where “Stan The Man” isn’t just a great pal of mine and wrote the forward to my last book, “Tricks of the Trade” – but where he also refers to me as “THE YOUNG MAVEN” – and more importantly than that – as an accredited “Rangers’ Historian.”
Why do I remind you of my fortunate circumstances, where not only has Fischler become one of my strongest supporters and friends – but as someone whose brain I can pick for information and opinions?
I should’ve relied on my knowledge of Rangers’ history – rather than pushing my positive vibes and good-faith on you guys & gals all-season.
For a team full of cliches, you know what I’m going to say now – “History repeats itself.”
Much like the Rangers themselves, during this first-round seven-game set with the Devils – I have failed you.
But unlike the Blueshirts, I shall say this – and mean it – “I’m sorry.”
In “what could’ve been,” the Rangers became “has-beens” on Monday night.
During their pivotal Game 7 – the Blueshirts never showed up – and that will never be forgotten.
Similar to Game 5 , which also resulted in a final score of 4-0 (of course); once Mike McLeod scored the game’s first goal at the 9:53 mark of the second period – you knew that was it.
They were never going to comeback.
The Rangers, despite scoring five-goals in each of their three wins of the series – they would never score during Game 7 – and much like Palat’s Game 5 game-winning goal, which was scored at the 36-second mark of that wretched affair – McLeod’s goal, the first strike of the game, would hold up as the game-winning tally.
The Blueshirts, who were absolutely dominated and made to look like children on Monday night, then watched Tomas Tatar score his first goal of the series, Erik Haula pick up his fourth goal and lastly, watch Jesper Bratt pick up his first goal of these 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, an empty net goal, thus putting all of their hopes-and-dreams, now nightmares, to bed.
While you can’t fault and/or “hate” the Devils; conversely, there’s a lot of disdain and finger-pointing to go around when it comes to the Blueshirts.
In other words – the Devils did their job. The Rangers did not – and in turn – the Cup-less drought is now thirty-years-old – and where you have to also wonder – when Sam Rosen, in 1994, said, “this one will last a lifetime” – was that a fact, and not an euphoric remark?
Simply stated – for the first time since 1994 – and now in 2023 – the Rangers had their best shot of winning the Stanley Cup – but it was all for naught.
Back to the drawing board, a tired one, full of dated chalk-dust and many erasures.
And sadly – I don’t know if this franchise will ever win another Stanley Cup during my life-time.
As you already know; prior to Monday night’s Game 7, a few roadblocks were cleared from the Rangers’ path to the Stanley Cup.
Not only were the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders eliminated, teams who have given the Blueshirts many fits and losses in the past; but so was the top team of the league, the Boston Bruins.
(And league-wide – this Rangers’ loss won’t make a dent because of the B’s loss. The same can’t be said when it comes to the residents of Rangerstown, USA.)
Apparently, the Devils noticed the same fortunate circumstances, and for a Rangers’ team promoting the “TIME TO EAT” mantra; it were Lindy Ruff’s team who feasted – and soon beasted – the Blueshirts.
That’s why prior to Game 7, I felt, and like many of you guys and gals felt in your hearts too, that this had to be the year.
All the Rangers had to do was knock off an up-start New Jersey team, then vanquish a beat-up and injury-plagued Carolina squad – and after that – then await the winner of the Toronto/Florida series – where had the Blueshirts accomplished their goals – then they would’ve had “one last hill to climb” against whoever came out of the Western Conference.
So much for that.
And now – would it surprise anyone if the Devils celebrated another Stanley Cup victory in a vacated Caldor parking lot?
The Rangers couldn’t even score one damn goal in Game 7 – and where they had as much life as Terry Schiavo during it.
To go back to my status as a Rangers’ historian – this is why I’m sad to say the following:
THIS WAS ONE OF THE BIGGEST CHOKE-JOBS OF RANGERS’ HISTORY.
SCRATCH THAT – THIS WAS THE BIGGEST CHOKE-JOB.
While I can tell you all of the ways (and it’s all in my books); long story short – prior to Emile Francis taking over the franchise in the 1960s – the Blueshirts spent the majority of their playoff games on the road, rather than at home, due to the circus – as elephant shit and trapeze artists provided more of a profit for the powers-to-be at M$G rather than hockey – a relatively new sport in New York.
By the end of tonight, and similar to that circus that once prevented the Rangers from winning multiple Stanley Cup Finals – many players looked like clowns – where the fluffy-haired Russian, Artemi Panarin, has the reddest of clown noses amongst all.
As I attempted to monitor my social media feeds during Game 7 (I just couldn’t keep up – and maybe I will catch up tomorrow – from my tear-soaked pillow); I saw some fans suggest that the recent playoff losses from 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017 were much worse than this.
As Maury Povich made famous, “that has been determined to be a lie.”
Let’s not forget the following:
— The 2012 loss was an ECF loss – where by the time the Rangers had reached that penultimate round against the Devils – they were beat up – the end result of their lengthy series’ prior to this one.
— The 2014 loss was a SCF loss – where the Los Angeles Kings got all of the breaks – and a few puck luck goals – during three overtimes to boot.
— The 2015 loss was another ECF loss – and where the Tampa Bay Lightning were in their infancy of what they’d later become.
— The 2017 second-round loss to the Ottawa Senators was horrific – but even so – had the Rangers advanced – it was tough envisioning them knocking off that year’s eventual Stanley Cup winners, the Pittsburgh Penguins – a team that had trounced and made mince-meat of the Rangers just one year prior, in a devastating and brutal five-game first-round series smackdown.
At this time, let’s break it down.
As opposed to “The Henrik Lundqvist Era,” the losses from 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017 and everything in-between; “THE KING” never had a team in front of him like this one – including the early years – where players like Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan were in front of him.
Furthermore, and to go back to other franchise goalies from Rangers’ history – these goalies from the past never had a team in front of them like CZAR IGOR had this year.
It didn’t matter.
Unfortunately for CZAR IGOR, the 2022 Vezina Trophy winner – his fate is like every other Rangers’ goalie before him since 1941, sans Mike Richter – and whether it be Chuck Rayner, Gump Worsely, Eddie Giacomin, John Davidson, John Vanbiesbrouck and Lundqvist himself – it’s the same old story – another crushing playoff defeat.
When you look at the now 97-years of Rangers’ history – no goalie, even Mike Richter, had an offensive powerhouse in front of him like CZAR IGOR had this season.
Do I really need to explain this?
For novices, let’s count the ways:
— An $11.6M cap-hit left-winger, the highest-paid winger of the league, Artemi Panarin – who once again – did jack shit when the games mattered the most.
— An $8.5M cap-hit center, allegedly elite, Mika Zibanejad; who scored one meaningless goal in his seven-games of action – following a less-than-stellar 2022 playoff performance. MIA scored only one goal during his last twelve games played.
— A 2021 Norris Trophy winner, Adam Fox, who in all four losses – went scoreless – and wilted defensively during Game 7 too.
— Not only a second-overall draft pick, Kaapo Kakko, but a first-overall draft pick too – Alexis Lafreniere – where these two combined for only one goal in seven-games. Jack Hughes, drafted in 2019 like Kakko, and a first-overall pick like Lafreniere – was leaps-and-bounds better than these two. That can’t be debated.
— Two potential Hall of Famers, who combined, have four Stanley Cup victories amongst them, Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko – who despite playing well in the three Ranger wins – weren’t an “X-Factor” – much less a factor at all, in the Blueshirts’ four losses.
— Chris Kreider, the only Rangers’ “FAT CAT” to show up during this series – but even he couldn’t do much in the four losses – where the team was shutout twice in New Jersey, during the pivotal contests, which were Games 5 & 7.
Without a shadow of a doubt, both ON-PAPER and with what they did during the regular season – THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A RANGERS’ TEAM AS OFFENSIVELY GIFTED, STACKED AND AS TALENTED as this 2022-23 version – and that includes the early years of “The Bread Line” (Frank Boucher, Bill Cook and Bun Cook) and “The GAG Line” (Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle and Vic Hadfield).
And yes – that also includes the 1994 team..
But maybe as Mark Messier, the greatest captain in all of team-sports, said following this loss on ESPN:
“These Rangers are a bunch of all-stars – and not a team.”
Gallant, during his post-game interview, would later agree with “The Messiah.”
However, Messier would’ve never had the chance to say this, had this 2023 team been able to score a power-play goal when it mattered; where come the end of the series, the Blueshirts’ man-advantage units finished 5/27 – and with two short-handed goals allowed too – and where for the rotten cherry on top – McLeod’s Game 7 winning goal was of the short-handed variety.
If you need more piling on, then here you go:
UNLIKE THE OTHER NINETY-THREE YEARS WHERE THE RANGERS DID NOT WIN THE STANLEY CUP – THERE ARE NO EXCUSES TO BE MADE IN 2023.
Whether it was the circus from the first forty-years of Rangers’ history, the Jean Ratelle injury from 1972, the Ulf Nilsson injury from 1979, not drafting Mike Bossy in 1977 (when then led to the Islanders’ 1980s dynasty – and where they eliminated the Rangers during all four-years of it), one of the greatest players of all-time, Mario Lemieux, in 1992, the Mats Zuccarello injury from 2015 or something else – Blueshirt fans always had their ways – perhaps “excuses” – to explain such previous drastic endings.
None of that.
This Rangers’ team was 100% healthy – and better than that – had a goaltender performing at a Vezina level.
Simply put: The Blueshirts “blue/blew” it.
And while I know that many fans are calling for the head of Rangers’ head coach, Gerard Gallant; as you probably suspect and know by now – I’m not one of them.
While there is something to what a head coach provides; at this level, at this stage, and with the obscene money that these players make – you shouldn’t need a bench boss to motivate players – especially during a Game 7.
Do you need your boss at your job to motivate you?
And should you be a “FLAT EARTH TURKER,” and suggest that Rangers’ general manager, Chris Drury, part ways with “THE TURK;” isn’t that just an excuse?
(Furthermore – a Gallant firing would be the first black mark on Drury’s ledger – as it would be an admission that he chose the wrong person – an opinion that I don’t agree with anyway.)
During the social media era, it’s the same old shit – “FIRE TORTS!” “FIRE AV!” “FIRE DQ!”
The Rangers could have Scotty Bowman in his prime – and even then – following the team’s first preseason loss – fans would be calling for his pink slip.
Perhaps the only person associated with this franchise that should cease receiving a bloated paycheck from Rangers’ owner James Dolan?
Senile Glen Sather – who in his 23+ years with the organization – has won as many Stanley Cups as yours truly – ZERO.
But to place the blame on the biggest liar and failure of franchise history, Sather himself, is a cop-out.
This series loss falls on the Rangers’ forwards – and not anybody else – the goaltender, defensemen, head coach, general manager and anyone else you can conjure up included.
And it all starts with ATURNOVER PANARIN – as once again – the bread turns into mold whenever the regular season becomes the post-season.
To close on this segment prior to moving into everything else; I do want to make it crystal clear:
NO EXCUSES CAN BE MADE.
THIS WAS THE WORST SERIES LOSS OF RANGERS’ PLAYOFF HISTORY – AND EVEN WORSE WHEN YOU CONSIDER THE OPEN PATH TO THE STANLEY CUP.
At this time, as I continue to ramble on, and in a state-of-consciousness fashion; let’s get into all of the pregame news & notes first, follow that up by the last GAME REVIEW of the season – and then some quick-fire on the upcoming off-season.
Ugh – and for a team full of cliches this season, I personally thank you for sticking with me when I say this:
“Misery loves company.”
On Sunday, the day after the Rangers’ Game 6 victory, the team held an optional practice at their facility in Tarrytown, NY.
While most of the regulars took the day off, in order to allow their bodies to both heal and rest; it was noticeable that Artemi Panarin (along with Vincent Trocheck and Vladimir Tarasenko) was at the skate.
In the case of “THE BREADMAN,” who needed his yeast to rise and earn his dough, he did not participate in any official post-practice interview; but in a private chat with media members, he did acknowledge his struggles, hence his attendance at the optional practice.
Prior to Sunday, more times than not, as in 99% of the time – Panarin usually skips these exhibitions.
In other words – it was obvious that his struggles are getting to him – and that he’ll do anything possible to get out of it.
Following the optional practice, Gerard Gallant conducted his daily “TURK TALK.”
Here it is:
You know the drill – “talk is cheap” and “actions speak louder than words!”
These two cliches were never truer than following tonight’s horrific showing.
A day later, Monday, GAME DAY; the team held a morning skate at “The Crack Rock” in Newark, NJ.
Following it, “THE TURK” spoke to the media one last time, prior to Game 7’s puck drop:
Gallant, as he was the day before, remained cool, calm and collected – while also displaying an aura of confidence – but not cockiness.
If there was anything to come out of this “TURK TALK;” then it was when the head coach was asked about the Boston Bruins being eliminated from the tournament.
While Gallant didn’t say what every Ranger fan was thinking following the Bruins’ choke-job (and where they will now become an NHL meme for the next ten-years and beyond), meaning that the Blueshirts’ path to the Stanley Cup has less road blocks than ever before; he acknowledged the loss and said how anything could happen during both a Game 7 – and the Stanley Cup Playoffs in general.
It was up to his team, like the Seattle Kraken and the Florida Panthers on Sunday night, to pull off an underdog upset themselves.
Sadly to say – so much for that.
Here was the Rangers’ line-up from Monday night, their seventh-and-final game of this 2023 postseason:
FIRST LINE: Kreider/Mika/Tarasenko
SECOND LINE: Panarin/Chytil/Kakko
THIRD LINE: Lafreniere/Trocheck/Kane
FOURTH LINE: Vesey/Goodrow/Motte
FIRST PAIR: Lindgren/Fox
SECOND PAIR: Miller/Trouba
THIRD PAIR: Mikkola/Schneider
STARTING GOALIE: CZAR IGOR
BACK-UP GOALIE: THE HALAKNESS MONSTER
DAY-TO-DAY: Nobody! Praise the Hockey Gods!
PRESS BOX: Ben Harpur, Jake Leschyshyn, Louis Domingue, Libor Hajek and Jonny Brodzinski.
BOX SCORE time.
The following graphics and information come from ESPN.com:
At 7:30PM, a half-hour prior to puck-drop; I tuned in my two televisions to both the M$GN and ESPN broadcasts – and where once again – it was the national broadcast that was much better.
And this too – wouldn’t it be something if we could ever get Mark Messier and Henrik Lundqvist together – and let the seven-foot pile of shit, Sieve Vagistat, work with another pile of shit, P.K. Slewban?
However, and unless M$GN pulls the trigger – this will never happen at a national level – as Lundqvist, “THE KING OF COMMENTARY,” is a TNT employee – where it’s on the Turner networks where #30 is featured the best.
I’m not going to rag on Vagistat all-night – because I simply don’t have the energy – but I’ll bring up his low-lights – much like how I’ll do the same with the Rangers during the GAME REVIEW.
However, it was more of the same – Lundqvist, from his experience, and as someone who has been there, was routinely cut-off by Vagislime – again – and constantly at that.
Throughout the thirty-minute M$GN pregame show, Lundqvist would try to give us his perspective from his playing days, but before he could finish a thought – the seven-foot douchebag talked all over him – and gave us all of his fake news – homemade arts and crafts & charts and graphs.
While Vagistat was promoting his horrible analytical company and bombarding M$GN viewers with his garbage; over on ESPN, Messier, who may have more playoff experience and success than the twunt with the bad suits and CVS hair-dye, said, “you can throw all of the stats out the window, especially during a Game 7.”
Back over on M$GN, Lundqvist said, “There’s so much emotion, you just want to get out there and play this game.”
Sadly, the Rangers would go on and “play” – where you have to wonder if they ever gave a damn.
Lundqvist and Vagitwat continued their banter, where it was mentioned that Hank thought that Akira Schmid would get the start in net – and as he did.
It was never mentioned that Vagislime tried to sell a goalie controversy on Saturday night – and how he thought that Vitek Vancek would return to the Devils’ net.
Also not mentioned, as M$GN was running interview clips from the Rangers?
Jacob Trouba’s quote following Game 6, when he said, “This one won’t mean much if we can’t win the last one.”
While this was going on, here was my pregame thought:
Is it delusional to think that Panarin has a beast-mode game tonight? #NYR
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) May 1, 2023
While Vagimoron was going on-and-on with his made-up stats, including a new one, “PLAY STOP SAVES;” ESPN showed us the pregame warm-ups and line changes.
M$GN didn’t even bother to show us the Rangers’ line-up – which was the same line-up from Game 6.
At around 7:45PM, Michelle Gingras, following an interview with Ryan Lindgren, relayed to us how you could feel all of the passion, energy and noise inside of the arena. I guess the Rangers never felt such vibes.
Over on ESPN, Slewban mentioned how he wasn’t very well-liked in New York – while busting out his Ric Flair inspired robe (again).
In a response, Messier had a gaudy Rangers’ #11 suit-vest on himself – but sadly – the annoying Slewban would have the last laugh at the expense of “THE MESSIAH” – until it was reminded that Messier has six rings on his hands, while Slewban has zero on his. (No Lindsey Vonn wedding-ring joke required!)
Come 8PM, we went to Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti at the top of “The Crack Rock,” where win-or-lose, this would be their final game together this season.
Rosen immediately went into reverse-curse mode, and talked about all of the Devils without goals to their name – and never mentioned how Panarin was in the same boat.
Over on ESPN, Emily Kaplan, who was completely out of breath (maybe she had to run down to ice level), was wearing all black – fitting colors for the Rangers’ funeral come 10:45PM EST.
Then right before puck drop, ESPN showed us the national anthem, while M$GN showed us four commercials of Jessie Pinkman promoting gambling, rather than the meth he’s accustomed to, instead.
At this time – our last GAME REVIEW of this season.
Sorry – much like the Rangers themselves tonight – I don’t have the heart, energy and desire to recap every piece of minutiae from this game – and as I usually do.
I can tell you, and like I do during every game that I don’t attend – I live-tweeted this game on the Twitter machine – tweets which you can find over at https://twitter.com/NYCTheMiC
That’s where you can find the second-by-second, and play-by-play, of tonight’s embarrassment.
As you’d suspect – heading into tonight’s game – I was hoping that these tweets, which are my notes whenever writing one of these GAME REVIEWS – would be used in a positive fashion – when talking about a Rangers’ Game 7 victory – and a second-round rematch preview between NYR/CAR too.
Even now, when looking back at my positive feelings going into this game – by reliving my Twitter feed – it’s like getting a prostate exam from Dr. Sausage Fingers.
But who needs a urologist to put stuff up your ass when you have the New York Rangers?
In other words, I’m just going to bullet-point this game – a sixty-minute disgrace of Rangers’ low-lights – sans CZAR IGOR – who despite another epic performance – had it shoved up his five-hole by the team in front of him.
Let’s blow through all of this – and then get into the off-season talk – as after tonight – that’s what everyone is focused on.
— Niko Mikkola, who should be brought back next season (I rather see him than K’Andre Miller – but I’m getting ahead of myself), logged the first Rangers’ SOG at the 2:33 mark. As was the case all series – Mikkola was the most effective Ranger when it comes to skating the puck into the zone – as everyone else was either scared of contact and/or preferred the dump-and-chase method of offense – a method that rarely produced results.
— The Rangers wouldn’t record their second shot on goal until there was only 6:58 remaining – during their third power-play of the game.
— The early onset of this game felt like Game 6 – all Devils – and all Igor too. However, by the end of it, this game wound up being a carbon-copy replica of Game 5 – with the identical 4-0 final score to match.
— Despite the Devils being all over the Rangers; it was the road-team that drew the first power-play of the game, as Motte was tripped by Nathan Bastian at the 2:33 mark.
— Of note: It was the Rangers’ fourth line that drew all four Blueshirt power-plays – and where the end result was another stellar 0-4 showing.
— Just 34-seconds into their first power-play, and following another turnover from Panarin; Fox was forced to hook Hischier, thus ending the early Rangers’ man-advantage.
— By the halfway mark of this period; the Devils had a 15-1 shot-attempt advantage (lots of wide shots from the home team) and where Mikkola’s SOG was the “Lone Ranger” chance – where even so – was an easy long-distance save for Schmid.
— With 8:16 remaining, and with the Rangers having about 30-seconds of zone time at this point; Severson tripped Motte – as Motte, who probably won’t return next season, had now drawn two power-plays.
— Despite Kreider getting away with a trip (the officiating was just as bad as the Rangers); the Blueshirts power-play soon went 0-2 – and where Fox was the worst offender – as he had Kreider wide-open for a tip/deflection – you know, how “CK20” had scored all of team’s previous five power-play goals – but opted to dance around like a ballerina/Vagistat instead.
— Then, with 5:58 remaining – the Rangers received another power-play, their third (which meant that the Devils’ top scorers, including Jack Hughes, were negated, as they don’t play on the penalty kill) – but “third time’s charm” wouldn’t ring true on Monday night.
— Following their textbook “pass-pass-pass” power-play offense, the Rangers’ power-play was now 0-3.
— I saw a lot of fans get on the second power-play unit for not doing anything – but when you come on with thirty seconds remaining – and with the puck in front of CZAR IGOR – what can they do? This is all on the $50M+ first power-play unit.
— Following this wretched 0-3 showing; Joe Micheletti was absolutely irate and incensed – and wondered why the Blueshirts weren’t shooting from the point and looking for tips/deflections. He was 100% correct – and not once during this game – did the Blueshirts ever look for a tip/deflection/screen goal.
— Artemi Panarin, who the Rangers should trade to Vladimir Putin – and then allow the Russian dictator to have his way with him – turned over the puck in the Devils’ d-zone with 3:10 remaining – which set up a Hughes’ breakaway – another save, another monstrous stop at that, for CZAR IGOR – the only Ranger with a pulse.
— Down to 2:30 remaining, the Rangers’ fourth line, the “best” of the four; had a chance to end the Devils’ momentum, but a Goodrow (from Gretzky’s Office) centering pass to Motte led to a wide shot for perhaps the “future two-time Ranger.”
— If there was anything else noticeable from this bag of shit first period, then it was that Jack Hughes was crying all game, much like Zibanejad had done earlier this series. And like MIA – the officials never gave #86 a call – as I’m to assume that they were sick of the tears and whining. At least the officials were consistent in that aspect.
Scoreless after twenty minutes – only because of CZAR IGOR.
While his save total doesn’t scream out at you; it felt like every denial he made was of the life-and-death variety – and where as I remarked at the time – it felt like it was only a matter of IF, and not WHEN, before the Devils would breakthrough.
Here’s what I said at the time:
Scoreless after 20. 1P Thoughts:
— PP is awful, 0-3
— Too many turnovers, especially from 10 & 88
— If #NYR don’t win, it won’t be Igor’s fault
— SOG 8-6, Hits 9-7 NJD; FOs 6-all
— Could be 3-0 Devils, but conversely, #NYR could’ve scored on their PPs too…
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) May 2, 2023
— The Devils finally got CZAR IGOR to crack – and through no fault of the goaltender himself – and that was that.
— Again, it was only a matter of time, as the Rangers had no answers.
— During a period where you wondered if DUDE WIPES should sponsor this team, as the Blueshirts make all of their fans shit themselves whenever watching them; a Devils’ fourth-liner scored one goal, while a third-pair defenseman set-up another.
— While many Ranger fans already wanted Panarin sent to the gulags – and I get it; it was my opinion that Gallant had to either win in spite of him – or lose with him. As you know, we saw the latter.
— Nothing changed, as the Devils continued their dominance – sans one play at the 2:20 mark – when Schmid easily stopped Lafreniere on a 2 x 1.
— I know everyone is infatuated with the players that formerly constituted the dated moniker of “THE KIDS LINE;” but they too, like most of these forwards – were horrible this series. At the very least, they didn’t take a big step up from last year. Instead, they fell off the ladder.
— You’d take one Jack Hughes over 8967867686989676 versions of Lafreniere, Chytil and Kakko.
— With 12:14 to go, K’Andre Miller, mainly an all-out mess all-series; took his first of two penalties, when he high-sticked Meier.
— Similar to the first Rangers’ power-play; the Devils took a penalty themselves, as Bratt tripped Goodrow. As a result, following fifty-seconds of foreplay in this then 0-0 game – the Rangers would have a 1:10 power-play.
— Up next – the beginning of the end.
— At the end of the foreplay, and just as the Rangers’ power-play began; Gallant’s Gang found themselves effing around in their own zone – and they soon found out.
— Following turnovers from both Fox (-2) and Kreider (-4, which meant that he was on for all four Devil goals); Palat, who had stripped the best Rangers’ skater of this series (the guy with the middle name of James); then found Devils’ fourth liner, Mike McLeod, wide-open, and that was that.
— 1-0, bad guys, just seven-seconds shy of the halfway mark of this game/period.
— The Rangers’ power-play was now 0-4 – and with a short-handed goal surrendered.
— As the Blueshirts remained in a perpetual state of misery; CZAR IGOR continued to give the team a chance – and where you could see his frustration too.
— After seemingly having to make about 867868687 breakaway and odd-man rush saves; this is when the 2022 Vezina Trophy winner made two back-to-back turnovers himself; as perhaps sick of the measly team in front of him – #31 just flung homerun passes up ice – passes that the Devils easily anticipated & intercepted – but to CZAR IGOR’s credit – never found their way into the back of his net.
— With 5:29 remaining, and following another ATURNOVER PANARIN; CZAR IGOR made two saves on a Devils’ 3 x 1 odd-man rush. Sam Rosen’s response, albeit forced on him by his M$GN bosses – “OH JOE, THE RANGERS ARE SO HOT THAT THEY HAD TO RELEASE TWO PLAYOFF T-SHIRTS THIS YEAR JOE!”
— Those once $68 t-shirts will now go for cost tomorrow – 68 cents – and where now – that’s even too much to pay.
— It was also around this time when Gallant flip-flopped his lines – and with the hope of finding last year’s magic – by reuniting Lafreniere, Chytil and Kakko – but with no results.
— With 4:21 remaining, John Marino, the Bobby Orr of his generation, blew by the entire Rangers’ first line, put a SOG – and following CZAR IGOR’s initial save – and with no Blueshirt to sweep the rebound away in-sight – Tatar put some sauce on said rebound – and boom – 2-0 – bad guys – the insurance goal – insurance the Devils would never need.
— The Rangers’ first line, perhaps shamed of what they allowed, put some pressure on late, but even so; following a save on Kreider – Haula had a breakaway – but the period ended just as he was about to put on the finishing touches.
— 2-0, bad guys after forty minutes – and where you already knew that the Rangers were cooked.
Here’s what I said at the time:
2-0, bad guys, after 40. 2P Thoughts:
— If this is it, then Panarin will become the biggest shit-heel in all of Rangerstown
— They look like shit
— Getting beat by Marino & McLeod
— PP looks like 2013
— SOG 18-all, Hits 16-all, FOs 17-12 NJD
— PP 0-4, 1 SHG
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) May 2, 2023
For a franchise that pushed #NOQUITINNY as their Twitter hashtag, and in their marketing materials as well; instead of that slogan, we saw #ALLTALKINNY – and as if this was an extinction level event – #NOLIFEINNY too.
— Following some rare times where Schmid had to wake up from his slumber – NOTHING from the Rangers.
— At the 5:03 mark of the period, CZAR IGOR, trying to do anything to get his team going; came way out of his net, to the red dot at the left circle – and where once there – Devils’ captain, Nico Hischier – bowled him over for the second time this series – while Miller watched.
— Only after CZAR IGOR was steamrolled – Miller then went after Hischier – a roughing penalty.
— No penalty was called against Hischier for goalie interference – not that it would’ve had mattered.
— With 1:24 remaining on the Rangers’ penalty kill – the only sign of life from this game sans CZAR IGOR – as “THE TROO TROO TRAIN” stopped at Newark Penn – with a demolishing hit on Meier – a hit that ended the pointless #96 of this series.
(But as mentioned on this site several times before, including after Game 6 – winners write history – so Meier’s feckless performance will be swept under the rug – especially since he now has a chance to redeem himself – while Panarin will become Public Enemy #1.)
— At the time, and despite the limited time remaining in regulation (14:20); perhaps you held hope that this monstrous hit would give the Rangers a “ninth life” – as if they were the Florida Panthers.
— However, this team doesn’t have a Matt Tkachuk – instead – they have a useless schmuck named Artemi Panarin.
— (And no – I won’t remind you how I once begged and pleaded for the Rangers to go after Tkachuk. It’s a moot point now.)
— This TROUBA TRAIN hit was the last “highlight” of the season.
— Down to 5:33 remaining, Kakko made a brutal turnover in the o-zone, as if he was inspired by Panarin – and boom – 3-0, bad guys – as Haula scored his fourth goal of the series on the Devils’ 3 x 1 odd-man rush – where in turn – he finished this series with three more goals than Panarin (0) and Zibanejad (1) combined.
— As Sam and Joe admitted the inevitable, and went into “THANK YOU MODE;” with only 3:19 remaining, Bratt scored his first goal of the series – an empty netter – the final nail in the Rangers’ coffin.
— 4-0, bad guys.
An absolute embarrassment – and arguably – the lowest point of Rangers’ history.
You can watch all of the post-game interviews here: https://www.youtube.com/@nyrangers/videos
Among the quotes:
TROUBA: “It’s fresh. We had some opportunities, big saves, gave up too many odd-man rushes. They beat us. I don’t think anyone quit on our team. No lack of will. Give them [the Devils] credit. I don’t have the answers for you right now. We let an opportunity slip away. You never know how many kicks at the can you will get.”
MIA: “I don’t think we executed our game to 100%. This wasn’t good enough. I think created some chances in the beginning. Yeah, I don’t think we played as well. They played a better game.”
As the Rangers were crying, Lundqvist said, “I been in a lot of these games where you’re not rewarded for the work you’re doing.”
You could see the pain written all over his face – again.
Here’s potentially the final TURK TALK of the season:
Adam Rotter, of NYRangersNews.com, did the painstaking work of transcribing Gallant’s post-game interview, so I’m going to use his recap, courtesy of https://nyrangersnews.com/2023/05/01/what-gerard-gallant-said-after-the-rangers-were-eliminated/#more-198478:
Did you just never get to the game you wanted to play tonight: “It was 0-0 for the longest time, thought that was in our favor. They were forechecking and had some good chances, but Shesty was real good and then that first one was a tough one to give up, obviously, and after that, the rest of the second period, I thought we gave up too much, 2-on-1s, odd-man rushes and then they got that second goal and that was tough.”
What are your thoughts about expectations and how this ended: “I thought we played a real good team. Like I said before the series and I was 100% honest, it was 50/50. We had a good team, I liked our team, thought the team we played was a very fast team and they took it to us at times in the series with their speed.”
Did you sense that the Devils confidence was growing because of their speed: “No, they play their game. We had a real good first of the series, the first two games of the series we came out and played a perfect game, slowed them down, we had scoring opportunities and buried our chances and things went really well. And the third game, again, I thought was a real good hockey game and games 4-5 we weren’t very good and they took it to us, had a great game in Game 6 and then tonight was…wasn’t good enough. We had some chances, their goalie played really well, our goalie played well, it could have been 7-2 or 7-3 in my opinion. Shesty was outstanding for us, just didn’t get it done.”
Does it seem like a missed opportunity with the talent that you have: “Talent doesn’t mean a thing. It’s great to have talent, but when you gotta play together and work hard together and obviously the four games that we lost we had two goals, that is the bottom line. You aren’t going to win if you get two goals in four games that you lost. We scored five in the other ones that we won and I love to have talent, but you have to have a work ethic and more forechecking and stuff like that and we just didn’t get it done.”
Was it just that the consistency in the top-nine wasn’t there: “Not enough. Again, we weren’t horrible in the series, it went seven games to a good team over there, we gotta give them some credit, they are a real good hockey team, they finished with 110 points, give or take a couple, so I’m not going to jump all over our guys. We could have been better, but we played a real good hockey team.”
What changed from Saturday to tonight: “I think the first two goals changed it. We were playing okay, Shesty was playing real solid and those two goals you give up, you can’t give those up in a playoff series and win and when you got behind like we were starting to press and it cost us a lot. A lot of odd-man rushes that last part of the second period and that really hurts your game.”
Did the PP let you down: “No, they had some chances. It would have been great get one of those goals, but I can’t blame the PP when we don’t score any goals. They had their looks and chances but when you don’t score any goals in the game you got no chance to win, obviously.”
Obviously, when Gallant said, “Talent doesn’t mean a thing. It’s great to have talent, but you gotta play together and work hard together. You have to have a work ethic and we just didn’t get it done” – that damning quote will be the top takeaway from his post-game thoughts.
While that quote isn’t as damning as what Jets’ head coach, Rick Bowness, said following his team’s five-game series defeat to the Vegas Golden Knights – it was telling – and one where Ranger conspiracy theorists are now suggesting a rift between head coach and general manager – as Gallant had previously said that this team, as opposed to last year’s incarnation, didn’t have the same physicality and grit.
So what’s next?
Some rapid-fire as we go home here.
SITE/BLOG PROGRAMMING NOTE: Despite the Rangers’ season reaching its end; I am not done yet.
And unlike a lot of the post-game reaction that I saw from this fan-base, reaction that I 100% understand – my fan card (but not season tickets!) will be renewed next season – as I’m not going anywhere.
Then again – I doubt I’ll be going to M$G much either – due to the high cost of tickets – and because this loss feels like the Yankees’ loss from last season – where now, and more than ever before – it’s tough to care about the regular season from this point on – at least with this core.
I can’t stress this enough – there was never a better opportunity for the Rangers to win the Stanley Cup – and they absolutely blew it.
This can’t be debated – this season was a major step back from last year – and who knows where they’ll go next?
All we know is that the regular season will be meaningless – because as mentioned numerous times before – legacies are only defined during the playoffs.
Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin, should they remain as Rangers next season (and as I suspect that they will – who would want those contracts – especially for players who now have reputations as “playoff duds”), can each go on to pick up 100 goals and 100 assists each during the next 82-games that the team will play – but who gives a shit?
These two have done next-to-nothing during playoff time – sans a few fluke scoring plays – following doing nothing while watching the team fall in multiple three-game holes.
The team’s best regular-season scorers, the Blueshirts’ heralded 1-2 scoring punch – goes ghost when the team needs them the most.
While we’ll have a lot more to discuss during the next upcoming days (if not weeks), including exit interviews, playoff grades and everything else in-between; as a result of this loss – the franchise is in a state-of-limbo.
Already, I’m seeing fans clamoring for the 2023-24 season debuts of both Will Cuylle and Brennan Othmann.
But if Lafreniere and Kakko can’t do anything – why should anyone expect these two, drafted much later than first and second overall – to infuse life into this team during the playoffs?
Chris Drury, who went all-in this season, doesn’t have much draft capital to work with either, and because of all the long-term and NMC contracts; the core of this team will relatively remain the same.
The two biggest homegrown players that need a contract for next season are K’Andre Miller and Alexis Lafreniere.
However, if it came down to an either/or situation; who would you rather want next season – Lafreniere or Tarasenko?
Lafreniere, and we have discussed his unorthodox entry into the league before, has shown flashes of offense – but now three-years in – do you really expect him to ever dominate the league, like many previous #1 picks before him – including, UGH, Jack Hughes?
At least Tarasenko showed up during the playoffs.
And let’s not forget – Lafreniere, through the first 75% of the season – struggled – immensely at that – and became a healthy scratch too.
Furthermore, if you’re in the camp that both Cuylle & Othmann should receive a shot next season – and unless you want a copy-cat scenario of what we’ve seen during the past three years when it comes to playing/ice time doled out for “youts” – then someone has to go.
Both Cuylle and Othmann are left-wingers – and neither Kreider, nor Panarin, are going anywhere. In turn, Lafreniere, who you really can’t put on a fourth-line – then becomes the odd-man out.
When it comes to Miller – who was worse more times than not this season – should it come down to it – who would you rather have here long-term – the second-pair LD, or the first-pair LD, Ryan Lindgren – the 2023 Steven McDonald Award winner whose contract expires following the 2023-24 season?
And with other defensemen in the pipeline, players that will come at a much cheaper price than Miller – wouldn’t it make more sense to give them a chance – while investing in #55 over #79 too?
While I was a fan of his; I think it’s safe to say that Patrick Kane will dress for the third NHL franchise of his career next season.
When it comes to other unrestricted free agents not named Tarasenko or Kane; Drury also has to make a decisions on Tyler Motte, Niko Mikkola and Jaroslav Halak.
While a back-up goalie can be had for the cheap; I wouldn’t mind Halak back, as I thought he was serviceable in his role. But the back-up goalie position is the least of the general manager’s concerns.
Motte, who had a better run during his second go-around than his first; bailed after his first foray. He did have a decent playoffs – and in turn – and once again – could become too expensive for Drury to retain.
Plus, following a playoff run for the franchise that was much worse than last year – why would Motte, who owes this team no loyalty, want to return?
Mikkola, 27-years-old and at a $1,900,000 cap-hit this season, is due for a significant raise.
While the Rangers do have Ben Harpur ($750K) on the books in the event that Mikkola leaves for greener (literally) pastures; wouldn’t you rather a veteran back, on a veteran team that allegedly is a Cup contender, rather than messy Miller?
And let’s not forget – next season will be the last year of Braden Schneider’s rookie contract ($925K) – and again – who would you rather invest in long-term – Schneider or Miller?
One definitive opinion? Libor Hajek, a restricted free-agent, won’t be brought back.
Last but not least, and one more time – I’ll have all of the fallout of this loss for you on this site throughout the remainder of this week – but perhaps the top topic in Rangerstown, USA is the future of the head coach.
You already know my opinions – I think he’ll be back.
But until Drury publicly confirms Gallant’s status, and especially with the Hall of Fame scribe (the only Rangers’ beat reporter with sources), Larry Brooks, suggesting a change – much will be said about who will be behind the bench next season.
I just go back to what I’ve been saying all-season, the following:
— Gallant has the best winning and points percentages of franchise history – where admittedly – these stats deserve an asterisk, due to the era that he’s coaching in. But of course, you can only do whatever you can under the parameters of your era.
— I blame the players, where no surprise – Panarin gets all of the blame from me. A chance to go up 3-0, followed by two no-show performances – especially during a Game 7 – doesn’t fall on the coach – at least not in my eyes. The players need to be accountable too – but yep – because of the era and NMC contracts – it’s easier to fire coaches than players.
— I think firing Gallant would be another huge step back – and a strike against Drury too. Fresh off of “THE LETTER” from 2018, and a new regime that’s only two-years-old – I just don’t see the benefit in changing the head coach. Had this loss taken place during the no-salary cap era – then I think you would’ve seen a major roster reconstruction.
— It will be interesting to see if James Dolan butts in again – where let’s face it – it was Glen Sather who got into his ear two-years ago. However, with the Knicks relevant again – maybe Dolan is fine with the head coach – and for that matter – his g.m. too.
These are bad times for the Rangers – arguably the worst of franchise history, because as mentioned before – you could explain away previous failures – whether it be the circus, World War II, injuries, Senile Sather at the helm, etc.
This one comes without such an explanation.
They failed on their own.
It’s weird – I’m pissed and miserable – yet wrote 10,000 words – and still have another 10,000+ words in me.
I’ll cut myself off here – and will be back later this week – especially following the exit interviews.
But I do want to make this final remark:
If Drury can find a taker for Panarin, now the most polarizing player of franchise history, and should #10 be willing to waive his NMC – you have to do it.
Three playoff runs (including the 2020 bubble) and he’s done nothing.
It will be tough to lose his near-100 point regular seasons – but it’s tougher to endure his non-productive post-seasons.
Thanks for sticking with me – and for reading this long-winded and emotional recount.
And again – I apologize to everyone for all of my positivity. What a letdown.
Those feelings, much like this season, are now gone.
See you later this week.
PLUGS TIME! (Buy a book and support my Rangers’ induced therapy bills. After all, I don’t run ads on this site!)
My first plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden.”
As mentioned previously, the book is now available in hardcover, in paperback and in Kindle formats. To purchase a copy of the book, visit this link:
For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have re-ordered more copies. I now have a few signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:
My four-volume set of books, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is a game-by-game recount of the Rangers 2021-22 campaign.
My second title as an author, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is now available in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats.
To obtain signed copies, visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/onegamebook/
To purchase all four volumes on Amazon, visit: Amazon.com – “One Game at a Time.”
The greatest volume-set of books on Rangers’ history today!
“Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History,” a four-volume set of books that meticulously covers every trade made in franchise history, is now on sale.
All four volumes of the title can be purchased on Amazon.com and are presented in three different formats – eBook, paperback and hardcover.
To purchase Volume I: Conn Smythe (1926) – Craig Patrick (1986), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume II: Phil Esposito (1986) – Neil Smith (2000), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume III: Glen Sather (2000-2015), visit Amazon.com
To purchase Volume IV: Jeff Gorton (2015) – Chris Drury (2022), visit Amazon.com
To purchase signed copies of all four volumes, visit https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/
Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:
NYR/NJD R1G6 4/29 Review: NOT DEAD YET! Super Shestyorkin & Batman Kreider Dominate in Gotham; Force a Game 7, Missing Mika Sighting; Moldier Bread, “The Great Gallantsby” Does It Again; Line-Up & PP Changes Work Out, Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Depth Scoring Ends Schmid’s Night, Nerves, ESPN & More
NYR/NJD R1G5 4/27 Review: Rangers Hit New Low; Lose One of Their Worst Playoff Games of Franchise History, Toasted Bread & Missing Mika, CZAR IGOR Snaps; Gallant Remains Calm, 48-Hours of 1994 Talk, Not Dead Yet (But On Life-Support), Same Old Cliches, M$GN & More From an Utter Disaster
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
If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:
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.
LET’S GO RANGERS!
@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine