Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. As mentioned on my last manifesto, I’ve been working a lot, so I kind of feel like this:
So yes, time is of the essence here today. There are three major topics to hit today, as I’ll be looking at the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, the history of the Bruins & Blues and the recent ridiculous rumors about Erik Karlsson signing with the Rangers.
However, as usual, before rocking and rolling here, here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:
BCBS For 5/18: “Oh Baby!” John Davidson Returns Home; But This Is Still Gorton’s Rebuild, What JD Realistically Can Do To Benefit NYR in Year 1, SCF, “Jumpin’” Jack Hughes vs KakkoMania, Vally vs Duguay & Much More
BCBS For 5/7: Swedish Hockey Site Sends Lundqvist Fans into a State of Disarray; Will Gorton Open the Buyout Door? The Redshirt Rangers, CBJ Playoff Ouster Heats Up the Panarin/JD Rumors, Thoughts on JD & Panarin Joining NYR, NYI vs NYR Perks, Is the NYR Rebuild Complete & More
BCBS For 5/4: Self-Entitled Women Hockey Players “Go on Strike”; Refuse To Address The Main Problem At Hand, Why Women’s Hockey Hasn’t Worked, What Ten Changes The Sport Should Look Into, Sugar Daddy Bettman, The Patrick Bros, The Canes Sweep The Isles, CZAR IGOR Official & More
BCBS For 5/2: NYR Future Looking Bright But Remain Under The Foot of the Old Era, A Hurricane From Carolina Hits Long Island Harder Than Hurricane Sandy, NBC Loves Foxy Breasts; Gorton Makes Foxy Moves, Marchand, Canucks/Draft Rumors & More NYR/NHL Thoughts
BCBS For 4/16: Gambling Outfits Taking Over the NHL & Warping a New Generation of Fans, The NHL Playoffs, Rangers Set To Destroy Another Goalie in the Lundqvist Era, Shestyorkin/Kravtsov, Drury Has Hank Power, Always AV In Philly & More
Off puck drop here, and as mentioned on prior blogs – these 2019 NHL playoffs have been insane and unpredictable. These playoffs were as historic as any, if not more historic than most, as for the first time in history, all four wild cards won their first round match-ups. The two number 1 seeds, in the Tampa Bay Lightning and in the Calgary Flames, only won one playoff game, COMBINED. Elsewhere in the tournament, you had some “King of the Hill” type of sweep action. The Isles swept the Pens. Then the Canes swept the Isles. Then, in the Eastern Conference Final, the Bruins swept the Canes. Say it with me – “that’s hockey Suzyn!”
NHL officiating, especially at this time of the year, will always be dissected. There were two calls in these playoffs that swung games and unfortunately for Vegas, swung a series. Ironically, the San Jose Sharks were the beneficiaries of both of these bad calls.
I did my rant on the Vegas/San Jose series in a previous blog, a blog you can find linked above. Simply put, YES, Vegas did choke and did give up four power-play goals in their first round Game 7 with San Jose. However, there is a “cause and effect” with everything, and Vegas wouldn’t have given up four PPG’s if an erroneous penalty wasn’t called. Even sicker, the NHL admitted they were wrong after the game andapologized as if that meant something. As part of their apology, the NHL canned those officials from the playoffs. I’m sure the VGK organization and their fans can rest easy now. Please. The fact remains – a season was ruined for both players and fans.
Later on in these playoffs, San Jose would defeat the Blues in Game 3 of the WCF, after a BLATANT hand-pass that led to an overtime game-winning goal. Of course, the hand-pass was ignored by the four officials on the ice. San Jose got the win under dubious circumstances. Consequently, the officials were removed from the playoffs and another apology was made by the NHL. There’s only so many times you can say sorry.
I know that the players are much faster than ever before and the size of these players make the rinks look smaller than games of the past, but the NHL has to adjust. There’s an easy fix to this – have a video review official for all scoring plays and for all five minute majors and/or game misconducts given out. Enough of the sorry shit. Fix the problem. Most of the time, in fact, I’d even put the number as high as 95%, one quick video replay can solve everything.
What’s sad is that these officials will waste enormous amounts of time seeing if a skate blade hovered over the blue line one millisecond too early, but when a major game play or penalty is called, that’s that. There’s no going back. All you have to do is sit there and wait for the apology from the league.
While I have enjoyed these playoffs and the story the Blues have given us, there is a huge part in me that thinks that if that BS penalty against Eakin wasn’t called, then Vegas would be in their second straight Stanley Cup Final right now. Unfortunately, we’ll never know. I’m not trying to take anything away from the Blues here, but to me, Vegas was the team to beat in the West, and it took a bad call for Vegas to be beat.
If you’re a regular reader here, I don’t have to give you my speech – you know I love history. I love the history of the game & the men who played it. For newer readers, just check the archives of this site, especially the book reviews, where I have read & reviewed many biographies and autobiographies of many NHL Hall of Famers.
When you look at the history of goalies to play in the NHL, hands down – the 1960’s produced the best class of goalies the NHL has ever seen. The 1960’s were also a major decade in NHL history, as the Original 6 era, which officially began in 1942, would end after 25 years, with the start of the 1967-1968 season.
In other words, for 25 years, there were only six starting goalie jobs available. It wasn’t until the latter years of the Original 6 era, that regular back-up goalies were carried on team rosters. So if you were a starting goalie in the NHL, that meant you were freaking amazing, especially with so much young blood trying to break in. However, it was guys like Plante, Hall, Worsley, Sawchuk and Bower, that would achieve the greatest of success, and do it on multiple occasions.
In 1967, after twenty five years of the Original 6, the NHL doubled their franchises. In what was known as the “Great Expansion”, six new markets were introduced to the league – St. Louis, Philadelphia, LA, Pittsburgh, Oakland and Minnesota. With the six new teams, that doubled the amount of NHL player jobs. However, for goalies, it was still tough to stake a claim without some name recognition.
In St. Louis, the newly formed Blues selected the elder statesmen of Glenn Hall in the expansion draft and for the rest of his career, the Blues would convince Hall to extend his playing time by a year.
With the NHL looking to make sure these new markets would succeed, (The Oakland/California Seals is a story for another time) the NHL broke up the league into two divisions – the East and the West. While not exactly geographically correct, the East would feature all the Original 6 teams – the Bruins, the Rangers, the Wings, the Habs, the Leafs and the Hawks. The West would feature the six expansion teams. As a result, once the playoffs started, the Stanley Cup would be contested by one of the Original Six teams and one of the new expansion teams.
In the first three years of expansion, several of the Original 6 teams would be knocked out of the playoffs because of the divisional alignment. However, the biggest winner in all of this were the Blues. The Blues would win three straight West titles, thus going to three straight Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately for the Blues, the Blues would be swept in both the the 1968 and 1969 Stanley Cup Finals by the Montreal Canadiens. The Blues would then ultimately get swept again in 1970, this time by the Boston Bruins.
The Blues were led by their goaltender Glenn Hall in their first season. However, looking for help and in a league where a two-goalie system was prevalent, a champion and HOFer in his own right, in Jacques Plante, would join the mix in St. Louis.
In Boston, Eddie Johnston, who for some reason, isn’t a Hall of Famer as of this writing, was the netminder of the Bruins. However, the Bruins had this kid that you may have heard of – Bernie Parent. Parent would become the short-lived successor of Johnston. However, with the Great Expansion draft, the Bruins didn’t protect Parent and Parent would go to the Flyers. With Parent leaving the Bruins, the starting job wasn’t Johnston’s, as the Bruins turned to the younger Gerry Cheevers. In return, the duo of Cheevers and Johnston would eventually win two Stanley Cups together, with their first Cup victory coming at the expense of the Blues in 1970.
Obviously, when you look at the 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup winning teams that the Boston Bruins put on the ice, the first two names that pop at you are Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. Orr was the greatest defenseman of all time. That’s not opinion, that’s fact. Esposito, in his day, was the greatest scorer in the league. Gerry Cheevers, manning the barrel, was superb, giving Boston a three-headed dragon that was difficult to slay.
During the Stanley Cup Final of 1970, while the Blues had a goaltending duo in Hall & Plante that were better than Cheevers & Johnston, the Blues just couldn’t compete with the star power of Esposito & Orr. While Phil Goyette & the trio of Plager brothers were no slouches, and the Blues did have a young Scotty Bowman behind the bench, Orr & Espo were the best at what they did. In turn, the Bruins swept the Blues, with the fourth game of that series being the closest between the two teams. That Game 4 would also produce one of the most memorable goals in Stanley Cup history, as Orr scored his “Flight” goal.
However, that was then and this is now. With this Stanley Cup rematch 49 years in the making, only long-time fans of the Bruins can remember that feeling of ecstasy. Only long-time fans of the Blues carry around that agony of defeat. In 2019, while 1970 will not be forgotten by the respective franchises, the Blues will try to seek revenge for their past heroes, while the Bruins look to repeat history.
Stop me if you heard this before – the St. Louis Blues were in last place as of January 3rd, 2019. Just shy of five months later, the Blues find themselves as one of two teams left in the quest for the Cup. When you look at the turnaround in St. Louis, you can credit Craig Berube, who became the head coach of the team after Mike Yeo was fired in November. However, let’s face it – there is one reason for the Blues turnaround and that’s rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington.
In 32 games played during the 2018-2019 season, Binnington finished with an astonishing 24-5-1 record. He had an astounding 1.89 GAA to go with his amazing .927 save percentage. If he logged more games, not only would you be talking about him for the Calder Trophy, you might throw his name in the hat as a candidate for the Hart Trophy. Not even Connor McDavid was able to turn a team around and create such a positive effect as Binnington did for the Blues this season.
Oh, and Binnington only makes $650,000, which gives much credence to all my talk on why you don’t overpay a goalie, especially a Swedish one!
How is Binnington doing in the playoffs? Binnington won a Game 7 and even posted a shut-out too. He’s also among some elite company:
I don’t know how many times I’ve said it on this blog – the disparity among starting goalies has never been closer, which why it makes no sense to pay a goalie $8.5M or 13% of your salary cap. I’ve only been saying this for five years, but alas, I digress!
While KING Binnington (You don’t need to win a Cup to be called a King in this league) is having a season for the ages, the team in front of him isn’t shabby either. Led by Vladimir Tarasenko and captain Alex Pietrangelo, the Blues have a great core of guys.
Worth mentioning here, the Blues, just like the Bruins, don’t have a team made-up fancy boy Euros that look good on a spreadsheet. No, both the Blues & the Bruins have big and rugged players. Neither team may grab the eye of a basement bozo, but both teams are now playing for the Stanley Cup, which no chart or spreadsheet predicted. (Yes, this is my fuck your Corsi and fugazi analytics rant!)
The Blues are getting offensive production lately and it’s coming from everywhere. Whether it’s Jaden “Hat-Trick” Schwartz or the hometown boy in Pat Maroon, the Blues are coming up big in these playoffs. I can’t truly say a rookie is the inspiration for the high-level of play, but one can’t ignore how Binnington has changed this team ever since he took the starting job away from your run-of-the-mill Jake Allen.
The Blues and Bruins, have some similarities, with the biggest similarity being that both teams field a bunch of veterans. The Blues, like the Kings, added a lot of older free agents during the last off-season. Where it backfired for the Kings, it eventually worked out for the Blues.
Over in Beantown, the Bruins still have their old core, with several holdovers from their 2011 Stanley Cup victory. Of course, the biggest name of the bunch is Captain Zdeno Chara, who while he’s not as great as he used to be, the future Hall of Famer is still a force to be reckoned with.
To me, Brad Marchand, for as much as I hate him, I love him. Keep in mind, I’m a die-hard fan of NY sports and I love my New York Yankees. What I’m saying here is, “EFF BOSTON!” That said, what I like about Marchand is that he’s great heel. He embraces being hated. He uses that hatred to fuel himself. He’s no different than the Iron Sheik or Ric Flair – he just wants to get under your skin. Even better, he backs up his mouth and silly antics with his strong play. While I do think Marchand is dirty and should’ve been suspended for punching people in the back of the head, what Marchand does works for him and his team.
When I look at the Bruins and where they are today, I do think a big factor on why they are in the Stanley Cup Final is due to the Tampa Bay Lightning and their choke job. I don’t know if Boston would’ve matched up well with Tampa if Tampa were able to beat Columbus. However, you play the hand your dealt, and the Bruins have been very impressive in these playoffs.
After knocking off Toronto, the Bruins easily dispatched of Columbus and Carolina. They’ve only gotten better as the tournament has gone on. Having all the veterans, the experience and leadership, gives Boston an edge over the Blues. That said, in the last six Stanley Cup Finals, the team with the longer layoff between the end of the Conference Final and the start of the SCF, has lost every SCF. As it is, the Bruins will have a longer layoff than the Blues did, as the Blues clinched their Conference Final win on Tuesday night.
Away from the Bruins skaters, a huge reason for Boston’s playoff success is due to the work of goaltender Tuukka Rask. Rask, who was the back-up goalie on the 2011 Bruins Cup winning team, has become one of the best goaltenders in the NHL.
As mentioned a million times on this site and again in this blog – not one Top 5 paid goalie has won a Stanley Cup in this new salary cap era, which started in 2012. If the Bruins and Rask are able to beat the Blues, Rask, who is the fourth highest paid goalie in the league with a $7.5M salary, Rask would become the first Top 5 paid goalie to win a Cup in the cap era. (Keep in mind, Lundqvist was making $8.5M when the salary cap was $69.5M. Rask is making $7.5M with the cap now being $79.5M. So that’s a major difference when you look at a goaltender and their salary percentage against the cap.)
When it comes to these two teams, going into this season, both teams featured many veterans. However, it was the Blues youth, namely in Binnington, that helped them get to the Stanley Cup Final. Over in Boston, this looked to be their “last hurrah”, especially with the teams that the Lightning and Leafs were putting on the ice.
Let’s face it – NOBODY predicted a Bruins/Blues SCF at the beginning of the season, nor did anyone have these two teams going all the way when the playoffs first started. With the Conference rounds now complete, the Blues rode a hot goalie & team that came on late to the Cup. The Bruins rode their veteran core and kept pace.
While I despise the Bruins and I am pulling for St. Louis here, I will say, it does make me happy that the two teams playing for the Cup, aren’t teams that look great on spreadsheets. These two teams are mostly North American boys, who play a rugged and physical brand of hockey. Suck it advanced stat nerds!
As far as predicting who wins the Stanley Cup, which begins next Monday, on May 27th, all I have to say this – “WHO KNOWS?” Anyone telling you the favorite, like how that jackass Pierre McGuire is doing right now, is out of their minds. I don’t know how anyone who watched these playoffs can be so sure of their opinions on these games. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!
I really don’t know who wins this series. I hate Boston. Plus if Boston wins, it kills my goaltender salary theory. I also like the story of St. Louis, their fans, and their history, as they go for their first SCF victory. Of course, a rookie goalie winning the Cup gives me more ammo for my arguments.
I will say this, in the East, the road to the Cup was via the sweep. I don’t see a SCF sweep here, as both goalies are able to steal a game or two on their own. I see a deep series, with the victor coming after six or seven games played.
When I look at these two teams, the Bruins are the better team. My head says the Bruins here, but my heart, a heart that doesn’t want to see three Boston World Championships within a span of 8 months, says the Blues.
I expect a low-scoring and physical series. For St. Louis to win, Binnington must be better than Rask, as I believe the Bruins have more weapons and play the game with more intelligence.
Personally, there are two things in this world that get me upset – innocent kids getting sick or hurt & innocent animals being maimed or killed. The Laila story, which you can find by visiting https://nhl.nbcsports.com/2019/05/15/young-blues-fan-battling-rare-disease-gets-surprise-trip-to-game-3/ really got to me. I don’t know what happens to her or what her fate is, but if a Blues Cup victory gives her some happiness, I’m more than willing to support that. (The link provided was before Game 3. Since then, the Blues brought her back for every home game. It’s stuff like this that makes me really love this sport and what these teams do for people who need it.)
Time for the prediction. Do it for Laila. Blues in 7.
Oh, and for the people who will say, “well, there are probably sick kids in Boston too”, to them I say, “they already had the Red Sox and Patriots!”
WE ALL BLEED BLUE!
For regular readers here, I just finished the “Tough Guy” Bob Probert documentary, which pretty much is the “Tough Guy” book in the form of film. Just to get you ready, here’s the “Tough Guy” book review that I did two years ago: http://doinow.com/detwin/
Whenever I get time to do my next manifesto, I’ll have a full review of the documentary.
Also, if anyone has a link (I don’t mind paying for it) of the Terry Sawchuk “GOALIE” movie, please let me know. That’s something I can’t wait to see.
One last subject and we’ll put a bow on this.
Outside of tracking Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko at the IIHF World’s tournament, when it comes to the Rangers roster for 2019-2020, talk is pretty slow. That is, unless you’re one of these psychopaths clamoring for Erik Karlsson.
While there are valid arguments for the Rangers to go after Artemi Panarin, it makes absolutely no sense for the Rangers to go after Erik Karlsson. What really baffles me the most are the people who want the Rangers to make a run at Erik Karlsson, yet in their next breath, will bestow pure hatred upon Kevin Shattenkirk. I even saw one touched-in-the-brain individual suggest how the Rangers should buy out Shattenkirk and then go after Karlsson. WHAT?!?!
That said, it should be mentioned that these are the same people that belong to the Cult of Lundswiss, which is where these Erik Karlsson rumors first started.
Henrik Lundqvist, currently stealing a roster spot from a young Swedish goalie, is playing in the secondary tournament of the Spring, a tournament where usually younger players try to better themselves. While Henrik Lundqvist tries to chase a medal that no one in New York cares about, he also recently did an interview with a Swedish publication where he fawned and raved about the idea of the Rangers going after Erik Karlsson. I guess the theory here is that all broken down Swedes stick with each other.
However, it wasn’t all just Lundqvist. Mika Zibanejad also gave praise on behalf of Erik Karlsson, as Karlsson was once a teammate of Zibanejad’s, as both played together in Ottawa.
You already know my opinions on Lundqvist – it is ignorant to keep him on a rebuilding team and it’s even worse to cater to his every wish and desire. That said, you have Lundqvist, the player the team treats as if he has the accolades of Wayne Gretzky, and now Mika Zibanejad, who was the best player on the team last season, both supporting the idea of going after a broken down defenseman. Just what the Rangers need.
Fortunately, neither Lundqvist or Zibanejad are the General Manager. It is my belief, that Jeff Gorton isn’t stupid enough to pursue Karlsson either. When you look at Gorton’s tenure as GM of the Rangers, the only real black marks against him are the big money contracts he’s given out to defensemen, namely in Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith. I think Gorton has learned from those mistakes and won’t be so quick to give out another bad contract to another aging defensemen. Then again, the Brady Skjei deal is up for debate, although Skjei is much younger than the previously aforementioned players.
It just boggles my mind how some fans will scream “REBUILD” and then get upset after every loss. I crack up laughing at these idiotic fans that think building around a 38 year old goalie (Lundswiss will be 38 when the 2020 playoffs roll around) is ideal. I also just shake my head when the fans that cream their pants over Adam Fox or K’Andre Miller, are also the same fans that think the Rangers need Erik Karlsson.
Even if you’re not a fan of the idea of going after Panarin, you can at least see why it would be a viable move for the Rangers. When it comes to Erik Karlsson, who will be looking for big money and big years (and even if he gives you a Shattenkirk “discount” in both years and money, it still wouldn’t be worth it) it just makes NO sense for the Rangers to explore that path.
So to close on this Karlsson Krap, what is even sicker, is that I saw Ranger fans talking about what a “beast” Karlsson was in the playoffs. The guy couldn’t even stay healthy. Give me a North American over a Swede any day!
On my last blog, I did my spiel and gave you my thoughts on JD coming to the Rangers. On Wednesday morning, the Rangers held their official press conference about JD taking over as Team President.
The 21 minute press conference, which is available on the Rangers mobile app and website, was pretty much what you thought it would be. In fact, I thought the other JD, as in team owner James Dolan, was more interesting than the original JD himself.
James Dolan looked totally uncomfortable speaking. The line of the press conference is when Dolan said he loved working with Glen Sather because that meant Dolan didn’t have to do anything. Dolan said all he had to do with Sather was “write a check.”
What made me laugh hysterically, was when later on in the press conference, Davidson said that all Dolan wanted to do was win. You could’ve fooled me. For 19+ years, Dolan has been letting Sather spend hundreds of millions of dollars and for what? NOT ONE STANLEY CUP VICTORY!
The way both JD’s lionized Glen Sather was both sad and unintentionally funny at the same time. I’ve done my blogs on Sather before, so refer back to the archives for my deep looks on Sather. However, simply put – SATHER WAS A FAILURE!
I guess when I really think about it, it’s hard to fault Sather. You have an owner that isn’t interested and publicly says that all he wants to do is sign a check. Sather isn’t accountable for the team’s on-ice success; all he’s accountable for is if the team is profitable. The franchise is the most profitable team in the league, which in part, is due to the team’s location and by playing in the biggest city in the country.
Sather was a failure in all his roles with the Rangers, but if your boss doesn’t care, there is no pressure for Sather to change his ways. He knew he had a cushy job.
When it comes to JD, I did expect him to thank Glen Sather, just as I expected him to say nice things about everyone. JD said all the right things. Later on, in media interviews, he praised all the players, including Lundqvist. He also praised Gorton and head coach David Quinn.
All of this was to be expected. JD isn’t here to upset the apple cart. I’m sure he will have suggestions for Gorton. JD also gave off an attitude that he would be more hands on than I think he will be in Year 1, but what else is he going to say? It’s not like he was going to say, “I’m here to collect my social security check from James Dolan just like my predecessor did.”
I thought JD handled himself well and that is to no one’s surprise. He knows the job, he knows the city and he knows the organization. I’m just waiting for the Rangers to capitalize and start selling JD shirts in the same way that they sold Phil Jackson shirts:
If there was any true news to take out of JD’s press conference, it is that he expects hard work and blah-blah-blah. Time will tell on what role JD will take with the team. I still say this is Jeff Gorton’s team for the time being. I just hope JD retires Frank Boucher’s #7, which is something JD could make happen in seconds. Make Dolan sign that check for that banner.
That about wraps up this manifesto. I’ll be back soon with a “Tough Guy” Bob Probert documentary review. Enjoy the Stanley Cup Final. Let’s Go Blues!
As always, thanks for reading and…
“LET’S GO RANGERS!”
@NYCTHEMIC on tweeter