NYR/FLA ECF Game 4 Review: Deja Vu – But With a Different Ending. Florida Cats Dominating Ranger “FAT CATS;” “Milk Carton Mika” In Full Force, Only 30% of The Blueshirts Show Up; Team Wastes Another CZAR IGOR Master Class & Lafreniere Breakout Game, Lavy Curiously Admits to “Load Managing” “His Health is Our Top Priority” Filip Chytil; Blake Wheeler Returns, More Bad Officiating Mars NYR – But This Fact (All Evidence Provided) Isn’t An Excuse Either, ESPN Sucks & More

I don’t know if “The Monstars” from “Space Jam” have completely zapped Mika Zibanejad’s powers away from him or what, but what I do know is this: On Tuesday, May 28th, 2024, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, and whoever was wearing that #93 jersey for the New York Rangers wasn’t the same guy that we saw during the first two-rounds. While yes, Zibanejad had the worst regular season of his Blueshirts’ career this season – and where due to his teammates conversely having the best years of their careers – a lot of the “MISSING MIKA” stuff went undetected by the casuals; but it’s also true that once the regular season became the postseason – and the Swedish-Iranian dee-jay became a house of fire. Such a proverbial house has now been burnt to the ground – and only the ashes of the player that we once knew from the preliminary rounds remain. While there is plenty of finger-pointing to go around in the Rangers’ 3-2 Game 4 overtime loss – there was no bigger scapegoat than the man in the middle that for whatever reason, some people, both fans and media members alike, refer to as the team’s first line center. As you should all know by now, Vincent Trocheck has a firm claim to that title – and a stake first made all the way back in November of ’23.

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. We remain stuck on ten down, six to go, for your now 10-4 in the postseason 2023-24 New York Rangers.

The Blueshirts, who entered Game 4 of their 2024 Eastern Conference Final with the Panthers with a 2-1 series lead, had a huge chance to make Game 5, scheduled for this Thursday night at M$G, an elimination game for their formidable foes from Florida.

So much for that – and where after tonight, and no matter what goes down on Thursday – and these two teams will dance once more in Sunrise, Florida, for a now required and necessary Game 6 – and what will be our first elimination game of this series too.

In a lot of ways, sans the final result, and Game 4 was pretty much a carbon copy of Game 3 (for the Game 3 review, check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/52624/ ) – and where you felt never-ending deja vu while experiencing this fiasco.

Let’s count the ways, and we can do it in a “THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE MIKA UGLY” fashion:


The following:

Once again, the team’s best players were the now usual suspects of CZAR IGOR, Alexis Lafreniere, the fourth line and Vincent Trocheck.

That covers six of twenty players – or 30%.


Largely everything else, including the Blueshirts being pinned into their own zone for 90% of the game following the first period and where the Rangers looked like “The Three Stooges” with their heads lopped off when trying to chase away these Big Bad Cats.

Equally as disgusting?

More piss-poor officiating – but while the officiating was terrible – at the same time – you can’t blame the Zebras for this loss either.

After all, it’s not like the referees were able to keep the puck in the Blueshirts’ d-zone all game.

And of course, ESPN, the self-proclaimed “world-wide leader in sports,” had another brutal showing, and where in addition, this broadcast made you beg to the hockey gods for TNT to get the rights to the remaining games left to be played.


Mika Zibanejad, an $8.5M center who looked as lost as Helen Keller trying to navigate herself through Times Square traffic on New Year’s Eve – while driving a car with a clutch to boot!

And while many of my “Blueshirt Brethren” will also point out the poor performances of the two other highest-paid forwards on the team, Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin; while they didn’t play so hot either, at the same time, I can’t forget about CK20 bringing the Rangers to this series either – as without his Game 6 hat trick against the Hurricanes – then I’m not so sure if the Blueshirts would have prevailed in a hypothetical Game 7 – and a hypothetical that I’m glad that I didn’t have to experience neither.

When it comes to “The Breadman,” where seemingly, the bakery is no longer serving goals; while he hasn’t scored a playoff goal in some time now (seven games to be exact), and where even fourth-liner Barclay Goodrow is out-scoring him too – you also can’t omit the fact that #10 picked up two assists in Game 4 – which means that Panarin was involved in all of the Rangers’ scoring on this night.

But Zibanejad?


Repeat: EGADS!

While it’s great that Mika padded his playoff numbers against one of the worst playoff teams to ever qualify for the tournament, the 2024 Washington Capitals, and then had a strong showing in Game 1 against the Hurricanes – it’s been all downhill and no shows ever since – and now ten straight playoff matches without a goal too.

We’ve seen this version of Zibanejad, “Streak-a Mika,” many times before, but for a team leader, a man who wears an “A” on his chest like both Panarin and Kreider – fans are sick of him, and really, all three of these guys, talking the talk but not walking the walk.

Thankfully, and for as catastrophic and disgusting as Game 4 was – the series is still tied – and an ECF that now boils down to a Best-of-Three set.

And the Rangers will have home ice advantage in the pivotal swing game, Game 5.

But of course, and with both of these teams now 1-1 on home ice in this series – then what does “home ice advantage” really mean anymore – outside of having the last line change?

And if the Blueshirts, who were lucky when they came out of Game 3 with a victory, continue to play only twenty minutes of hockey on Thursday night – then this series will be lost.

After all, are you really banking on Alex Wennberg (0 SOG in Game 4) and a rabbit foot lodged up his five-hole one more time?

An even unlikelier scenario?

A goal from Kaapo Kakko (1 SOG and who tripped over his own feet when going for a game winning goal late into the third period).

If you can believe it, then CZAR IGOR, who has been fantastic all series, perhaps had his best game yet in Game 4. With a lesser goalie, and the Panthers win this game 10-2. Furthermore, and following the events of Game 4 – I’m sure that Igor would’ve liked to smash his stick over the head of Mika too! Photo Credit: Colin Stephenson

On a night where Peter Laviolette and the Rangers publicly admitted that Filip Chytil is not 100% and is under “load management” (which begs the question of why he’s even being considered to play in the first place – as this is the Eastern Conference Final – and not the regular season), and where Blake Wheeler slotted into the line-up for the first time too (fourth line – and check the pregame news & notes/line-up segments below for more), and the Blueshirts, who were once again battling two different members of the Animal Kingdom, the Zebras and the Cats, killed off an Erik Gustafsson roughing penalty at the 4:20 mark – a pretty ironic timestamp – as it felt like the refs were hitting that Cheech & Chong shit all game.

Forty-seven seconds after going 1-1 on the penalty kill and it was Florida’s turn to go a man-down, as Anton Lundell had blatantly high-sticked Will Cuylle.

The Blueshirts’ power-play, prior to commencing here, were 0-8 in the series and one of their last eighteen overall.

With just seconds remaining on their ninth man-advantage of the series, and the first power-play unit, now on their second shift, finally rained on the drought – via a Panarin-to-Trocheck one-timer scored at the 8:51 mark.

1-0, GOOD GUYS – and a rare lead (and opening goal) for the Rangers in this series too.

As it has been in previous games of this series, and once scoring a goal – the Blueshirts then had a chance to make it a two-goal lead – but of course – once again failed to do so – and where Zibanejad hit the iron on what should’ve been an easy 2-0, GOOD GUYS, goal.

We knew it then and we know it now – you can’t give the Panthers any breaks – and had this puck gone past Sergei Bobrovsky as it ought to have – then an overtime would’ve never been necessary – nor a tied series and an eventual Game 6 either.

The Blueshirts, who remained with their one-goal lead when entering the second period, experienced another all-out collapse – AGAIN.

And it didn’t get any better following the second intermission, and into both the third period and short overtime either.

Put it this way:

The Rangers out-shot the Cats, 13-11, in the first period.

The Blueshirts were then out-shot in the second stanza by a disparity of 14-5.

And come the final frame?

The Panthers out-shot the Rangers 13-5 – and where there was a fifteen-minute drought between the first shot and the second shot for “Lavy’s Lot” – their third consecutive elongated SOG drought of this 2024 ECF.

And for good measure, the Rangers never recorded a SOG in the overtime, much less touch the puck either, while the Panthers picked up a pair of SOG – and where obviously – their second one was a game-winner.

I first made this picture in 2018 – and have run it many times over ever since – which just tells you how streaky (and cold) Mika can be.

I have no answers on why the Rangers just fall off a cliff for long periods of time in this series.

And as you’ll see below – I don’t think that Laviolette knows why either – and I’m sure that Gerard Gallant is currently nodding his head when reading these words too.

For whatever reason, in crunch time – and the Rangers’ FAT CATS are just completely out-classed, out-worked, out-hustled, out-played, and worst of all, out-scored too, by Florida’s Cats.

The Blueshirts only saving grace during these tenuous times whenever the Blueshirts go timid, is CZAR IGOR – and where I’m sure that Henrik Lundqvist is nodding his head right now too!

At the 6:42 mark of the second period and there were those on-the-take officials again, this time boxing Ryan Lindgren for a play that you see about 1,000 times in any game, and 1,000 times more so in the playoffs, when the defenseman pinned Barkov to the boards behind the Rangers’ net.

While officially, the Rangers’ PK went 2-2 here – unofficially, they went 1-2, as just three-seconds after the penalty kill had expired and there was Sam Bennett scoring a rebound goal – and one that K’Andre Miller, and to a lesser extent, Zibanejad too, helped to aid-and-abet.


Come the 10:59 mark, and with the game still tied, Goodrow, when playing a puck on edge, accidentally sent the puck over the glass for a delay of game infraction.

Just 77-seconds later, and Carter Verhaeghe, who has become a Ranger Killer himself, scored – a fluke goal at that – following an unorthodox bounce off of his shaft (not that one, ya pervs).

2-1, bad guys – and where such a goal surrendered didn’t wake up the Rangers at all.

Instead, it put them to sleep – that is the other 70% of the team that weren’t CZAR IGOR, Lafreniere, the fourth line and Trocheck.

With the score still favoring the home team 2-1 as the third period began – and once again – there was “SEXY LEXY” at the 3:28 mark, where this time, he deflected a puck sent his way, backhanded at that, and as shot by Adam Fox.

This was the first Blueshirts’ SOG of the period too.

TIE GAME, two-all.

However, and just as you were hoping for another miraculous comeback for a team that’s been known for them all season – it would take the Rangers nearly fifteen minutes to register their second SOG of the period – and from all people – Matt Rempe – and as the big man did with just a shade over three-minutes remaining.

As it has been often this series – and the Panthers were just dominant – and where it felt like the Rangers on ice had less touches of the puck than either me or you from our seats.

But because of CZAR IGOR – and the Rangers’ dream of ending this series in five-games still remained as regulation time ended.

Such a dream became a nightmare – but at least you didn’t have to wait all night to wet your bed, cry your eyes out and shit your pants.

Not even a minute into the overtime, and Zibanejad, while in Florida’s zone, made one of the worst passes that you’ll ever see – as he tried to force the rubber to Wheeler at the blue line – and with two Cats ready to pounce at the puck.

Such a boneheaded decision forced the returning Wheeler to watch the game winner from the penalty box – as he hooked Barkov while the Panther was on a breakaway – and where really – a penalty shot could have been afforded here – and for Blueshirt Backers – this was the result that you would have wanted to see – as CZAR IGOR was just dialed in.

But alas – it wasn’t meant to be.

At just the 1:12 mark of overtime, and worse than that, just thirteen-seconds into Florida’s power-play too – and Sam Reinhart, who unlike Panarin, Zibanejad and Panarin, has arrived in this series, put Game 4 away with his PPG.

3-2, bad guys, 3-2 bad guys, your final.

What could’ve been a relaxing and harmonious flight back to their home base in the Big Apple is now anything but that – but once the sulking is over – the Rangers need to get back to their mission – and it will start with a Game 5 win – and where their best performance of the series will be needed.

As noted earlier – you can’t solely rely on a few players, and puck luck too, to win the Cup.

You need your star players to show up too.

While these two, Trouba and Fox, the top-two of the right-side of the defense, have been playing injured – they also looked better in Game 4 than they have previously looked in this series. Then again, that’s not saying much either. Photo Credit: NYR

On Monday, the off-day between the two bouts played in Florida, the following was announced by the league:

By now, you should already know that the primate-faced Rodrigues, where with one just look at him, then you’ll have all the proof in the theory of evolution that you’ll ever need, sold Trouba’s forearm shiver as if he was Ric Flair taking a big right-hand from Hulk Hogan – and where I’m surprised that the Panther, and like a pro wrestler, didn’t “blade” (cut his own head) in the process.

While in real-time, and without the benefit of replay, Trouba’s contact with Rodrigues looked of the elbow-on-noggin variety; all it took was one slow-mo replay and then you could see that it was the captain’s forearm – and not his elbow – that caught Rodrigues’ shoulder – and not his head.

And if the NHL, who loves having as many year-end awards as possible, ever creates a “Best Diver” or “Best Actor” award, then you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better contender than Rodrigues for both of these “prestigious” awards.

In what was the biggest story going into this game, and with 28 of the other teams idle too, all anyone could talk about was this Trouba play.

For starters, this penalty wasn’t even a major – meaning that a fine, nor suspension either, was warranted.

However, and for whatever arbitrary and random reason, the league’s department of player safety decided to butt in – and slap a $5,000 fine on the Rangers’ “GREAT EIGHT.”

While of course, a $5,000 fine to Trouba is the equivalent of any one of us having a free White Castle slider coupon expire – it’s the fact that Trouba even received this fine that’s a problem.

After all, such a fine goes on Trouba’s record – and just adds/increases his “repeat offender” status.

This fine also joins a long list of ANTI-RANGERS BIAS on behalf of the league, such a bias that began when Rangers’ owner James Dolan first publicly called out the league, and George Parros by name too, following the 5/3/21 Rangers v. Capitals game – aka – “The Tom Wilson Game.”

Only adding fuel to the fire is the fact that Matt Tkachuk, following Wennberg’s Game 3 winner, slashed and went after Matt Rempe – yet nor a fine or suspension was levied:

Put it this way: Had the roles been reversed, then Rempe would’ve been booted from this series.

And what’s Rempe supposed to do?

Go after Tkachuk?

With Kelly “Draft Kings” Sutherland on the ice – such a retaliation would’ve only been unfortunate for Rempe.

If anything, and while the league was wrong to fine Trouba here, then it’s the fact that nothing is ever judged equally.

Are the Rangers perfect little angels?

Of course not.

But are the Panthers?

No – and let’s not forget that Florida entered this series as the most penalized team of these playoffs – and even if the officials have forgot about this factoid too.

Keep all of this in mind for later – as once again – separate and unequal, played out once again in Game 4.

At this time, the quick “Lavy’s Lounge” segment.

For whatever reason, and the Rangers have stopped uploading Lavy’s chats with the media. Crazy.

The Rangers, who had a video review session on Monday, and where afterwards, Trouba, when asked about his fine, made sure to bring up that he hit Rodrigues with his forearm, skipped a traditional morning skate on Tuesday.

Perhaps they should have taken a Tuesday Twirl.

Come 7:30PM EST, a half-hour prior to puck drop, and Lavy’s Line-Up was revealed – Filip Chytil out, Blake Wheeler in.

At the time (and this would later be confirmed by Laviolette in his post-game presser – an interview that I do have snippets of for you below), it was reported that Chytil was now under “load management” – as the Rangers want to ease him back into the swing of things.

Granted, this could all be “Blueshirts Speak,” as the Rangers don’t want to say “Chytil can’t score and hasn’t done jack-all since returning” – but either way – since the Rangers are saying this – then you have to wonder what the hell is wrong with them.

For starters, and as mentioned 98679867896786798698 times before, back in January, and following “The Concussed Czech’s” latest setback (a rumored seizure), the Rangers said that they would be shutting down Chytil for the season, and where they also stated that his health was their “top priority”:

Photo Credit: NYR

So what’s changed?

Granted, there is something to “marvels in medicine” – but even so – the Rangers are telling you that Chytil isn’t 100% – so what happened to all of that “top priority” talk?’

In a way, then I wonder if you can look at the lack of offensive numbers being put up by Zibanejad and Kreider right now – where after tonight – Florida goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, now has as many points as Kreider (1) and Zibanejad (0) combined in this series, with his one assist on Bennett’s equalizer.

That also means that Bobrovsky now has more points in this series through four games than Zibanejad too.

While I’m not as down on Kreider as many others are, it’s also no secret that Zibanejad has been pretty terrible more times than not this season.

(Let’s not also forget about Kreider’s impressive post-season performances either – something that he has going for him – and something that Mika doesn’t have going for him.)

As a result, we’ve seen Laviolette throw a litany list of names alongside the BFF this season, including in the playoffs, and on double-shifting duty too, players such as Chytil, Roslovic, Vesey, Panarin, Lafreniere, Kakko, and now returned in Game 4, Wheeler as well.

Had Zibanejad ever been the player that he used to be this season, then such a rotating door at right-wing wouldn’t have been required – and perhaps the risk of going with the rusty Czech either.

With Chytil now being “load managed,” I thought that giving Wheeler a chance tonight was the right move.

Heck, I was hoping for this to take place earlier, because as previously written in this space – I thought that a hungry end-of-the-line Cupless veteran would go balls to the wall if given this opportunity.

Overall, Wheeler, who was eased in by playing on the fourth line (Roslovic, who is having a dreadful series, was back with the BFF), played well – and if you’re blaming him for the GWG allowed – then you must have your Mika blinders on.

In his 9:18 (only Rempe, 6:17, played less), Wheeler picked up four hits – and where only Rempe and Trouba had more, with five hits a piece.

Wheeler, who also had his right leg tested by the Cats, blocked two shots too.

And as the game progressed, and as the game-winning goal suggests – Lavy returned Wheeler to his spot prior to his injury – as RW2 with the BFF.

Long-story short?

I’d go right back to Wheeler in Game 5 – and where I never questioned his conditioning/stamina either.

Here was Laviolette’s line-up for the fourteenth playoff game of the postseason – and the 96th-overall game of 2023-24:

FIRST LINE: Panarin/Trocheck/Lafreniere

SECOND LINE: Kreider/Zibanejad/Roslovic

THIRD LINE: Cuylle/Wennberg/Kakko

FOURTH LINE: Wheeler/Goodrow/Rempe

FIRST PAIR: Lindgren/Fox

SECOND PAIR: Miller/Trouba

THIRD PAIR: Gustafsson/Schneider


BACK-UP: Quick

“Black Aces” and Scratches: Domingue, Edstrom, Jones and Ruhwedel.

Injured: Vesey

Healthy Scratch: Chytil

Taxi Squad: Alex Belzile, Brett Berard, Anton Blidh, Ben Harpur, Dylan Garand, Jake Leschyshyn, Connor Mackey, Victor Mancini ,Brennan Othmann, Tyler Pitlick, Matthew Robertson, Brandon Scanlin  and Adam Sykora.


The following graphics and information come from ESPN.com:





23 2 21 .913 12 9 0 0 0 61:12 0


40 3 37 .925 27 8 2 0 0 61:12 0


Oh sorry – these weren’t the official three stars of the game – these are the three stars that didn’t show up.

We’ve covered the events of Game 4 up top, so for now, this GAME REVIEW below will stick to everything else – while also including clips of every big play too – sans all of the CZAR IGOR saves.

After all, I don’t have enough bandwidth on this site to share all of CZAR IGOR’s 37 saves – and where perhaps outside one or two of them – they were all of the high danger and under extreme duress variety.

This is how this series has felt like – but I’m also not solely blaming the refs for this loss – but with that said – they haven’t been good either.


After about ten-minutes of Florida gushing on behalf of ESPN’s Sean McDonough and Ray Ferraro, arguably the worst play-by-play team in all of sports today, the puck finally dropped and where Barkov beat Mika at the dot.

And following Barkie’s holler at the circle – CZAR IGOR was almost forced to make a breakaway save on him – but the Panther lost the puck just as he was approaching the net.

Crisis averted – or at least temporarily.

And when speaking about ESPN, and while I don’t want to give you this redundant rant for the 4098678679867986798679868968796th time on this site – but needless to say – this broadcast was another shit show for the ages.

Between these two yokels openly rooting for the Panthers in the booth (they were always talking about what the Cats had to do – and not what the Rangers had to do), McDonough not being able to hear <DINGS>, the never-ending Epileptic Seizure Providing Network switching camera shots, focusing on players at the bench while the puck was in play, and the rest of the usual nonsense and fare – and this broadcast was fitting – as it was just as bad as the game.

But I guess that I’ll give McDonough some credit – as he did openly call out Rodrigues for diving/acting against Trouba.

At the 2:10 mark of the frame and Panarin fed Trocheck for a mini one-timer, but since Trocheck is a righty – then he had to adjust before getting his shot off. In other words, had a lefty been in Trocheck’s spot in the slot, say an Alexis Lafreniere – then this opportunity against Bob perhaps would’ve been the first goal scored in this game.

Following Wheeler’s first blocked shot and Trouba & Tkachuk were going at it – while Forsling, as a third man, entered the fray/scrum, and pulled Trouba off of his teammate.

What Forsling did wasn’t a penalty – but with what we’d soon see – then this was another example of the officials being inconsistent.

At the 4:20 mark, and this is when CZAR IGOR stopped fellow comrade, and an ex-Ranger to boot, Vladimir Tarasenko, which then led to this:

In a series, and really, an overall post-season where we’ve seen scrum after scum, and this is when the officials decided to hand out a single penalty to Gustafsson.

As I always say in these situations – LET THEM PLAY – and if you have to call a penalty in order to “gain control” – then call off-setting minors.

But that’s not what happened here, as only “The Gus Bus” took a trip to the box – and again – keep this in mind for later.

It should also be noted that ESPN has an “NHL RULES ANALYST” (Dave Jackson) – which only speaks to the fact that there is so much controversy with these horrendous calls. After all, if bad officiating wasn’t a league-wide epidemic – then such a TV job wouldn’t be necessary.

The Rangers’ PK prevailed here – and only because of CZAR IGOR – who made four saves in all, including a robbery on Tkachuk and a clean glove save too in order to get his PK units a change.

As you were waiting for Rempe to receive a misconduct for farting; instead, and at the 7:07 mark, it was the Rangers turn to go on the power-play following Lundell’s high-stick on Cuylle.

Following two dubious shifts from both of the power-play units, and the PP1 came on one last time – and finally – the powerless streak was broken by who else – NONNA TROCHECK’S BAMBINO:

1-0, GOOD GUYS, after this hell of a one-timer.

And while I know that such discourse falls to the wayside after a loss, but entertain me:

We all know that Panarin, and hands-down, is the greatest unrestricted free agent signing in franchise history.

But is Trocheck the second-best unrestricted free agent signing in franchise history?

A Stanley Cup would guarantee it – but either way – this question is up for debate.

Following the goal, the Panthers had two odd-man rushes, and where the SOG disparity was now in favor of the Cats, 10-7 – but it felt like 100-7.

(And if you care about such things, then following both games in Florida, and the Panthers, on home ice, finished with a 110 shot attempts advantage over the Rangers too, via their 197-87 total.)

After Kakko coughed up the puck in the o-zone, a turnover with 5:30 remaining, and back in the Rangers’ end, Rempe, while completely sacrificing his face and his body, blocked a slapper from Bennett.

For all of the talk about Rempe, who once again, I thought played great tonight – it shouldn’t be lost that not only is he both learning and maturing on the fly – but he’s also doing all of this against the best competition available too.

As the period progressed, Lafreniere continued to stand-out – and as I noted at the time:

Down to 3:57 remaining and this is when Trocheck was cross-checked by Montour, which in turn, gave the Rangers’ power-play a chance to go up 2-0.

Mika, who had all day at Bobrovsky’s vacated net – hit the post.

And following both the <ding> and ricochet, Reinhart & Barkie bow-wowed their way to CZAR IGOR on a short-handed two-vs-one odd-man rush – and where once again – Barkov lost the puck as he was going to the net.

The Rangers’ power-play, once recovering the puck, had another crack at Bob – but couldn’t get him to crack.

And had they, then we’re talking about a 3-1 series lead.

1-0, GOOD GUYS, after twenty-minutes.

Here’s what I said at the time:

While his salary doesn’t suggest that we do so, but his draft status does – whenever talking about the big names on the Rangers, then we must include Lafreniere in all discussions. Photo Credit: NYR


This was the beginning of a forty-minute-plus grueling end – and with a hope kick to the balls in-between.

In a word, or at least for the Rangers, then you can sum up this period by saying “SHESTYORKIN” – as he was stopping everything and anything – including robbing Carter Verhaeghe with his back facing the Cat.

The Rangers didn’t even touch the puck in the first five-minutes, that is, except to ice it.

The best shift that the Blueshirts had was with 13:55 remaining, the fourth line no less, and where Rempe almost scored a screened/deflection goal.

This stoppage also called for a TV timeout – and one that the Rangers needed in order to regroup.

But alas, not much would change – and where the officials decided to get more face-time too.

Right out of the TV timeout and this is when ref Jean Hebert decided to decipher this routine play as a penalty:

The only way this penalty could have been any worse is if it was called during the final minutes of regulation.

But either way, this was another horrific call – and why fans (and even media members too) are seriously wondering about these referees having gambling accounts with the league’s 9867867867896798678687967986 sportsbook sponsors.

Reinhart, who rung a puck off of the post during this Florida power-play, would have to wait until overtime to score his power-play goal.

And three-seconds after the power-play had expired, and this is when the M&M Boys, Miller & Mika, did their goalie no favors:


I know that these plays happen so fast and that it’s very easy to be critical after the fact – but even so – Miller should have dove at the post and used his body – and not his stick – while Zibanejad has to do something other than watch everything unfold – and as if he were a fan like us.

As the Panthers never stopped attacking, come 9:01 remaining and this is when Goodrow accidentally misplayed a puck.

After a swooping BESSIE save made on Reinhart; Verhaeghe, with 7:44 remaining, scored.

2-1, bad guys – and the Rangers’ PK, once their greatest strength, was now essentially 0-2 here.

Come 5:24 remaining and the Rangers’ power-play had a chance to tie the game, as Kreider was tripped by Forsling as CK20 was driving to the net.

Lafreniere almost had another highlight reel goal, as after splitting the defense, his shot from the slot hit the crossbar. McDonough said it went high.

This was the only scoring chance that the PP had – where, and still for the life of me – I have no clue what the two Scandinavians, Kakko and Wennberg, are doing on PP2.

I rather see Quick and Rempe get this time.

While Wennberg did block seven shots tonight, and while Kakko “POSSSEZZ PUCKZ I SWARE!” – neither are an offensive threat, and quite frankly, are offensive to watch during man-up situations.

The Rangers escaped, and I mean escaped, this period only down 2-1.

Here’s what I said at the time:

There are not many people out there that’s a bigger fan of Matt Rempe than me – but it is a disgrace when he’s more noticeable than Kreider, Panarin and Zibanejad. Photo Credit: NYR


Kreider showed some life early in this period – but it wasn’t for his offense – instead, it was for his Nicky Fotiu inspired throw of Tkachuk’s mouth piece:

And when this is Kreider’s biggest highlight from the game – well that says it all.

With Kakko and Roslovic now flipped, and where neither produced results following their line switches; the old reliable, THE GAG LINE 2.0, tied the game at the 3:28 mark, via Lafreniere’s amazing tip off of an even better Fox backhanded pass:


Call me a sucker, call me gullible, just don’t call me late for dinner – but I really thought that this goal was going to be the spark in the eventual Rangers’ Game 4, 3-1 series, win.


Here’s some food for thought for you too:

As noted above – the Rangers, caved into their own zone for the duration of this period, would get their second shot on goal with 3:11 to go – and another “almost a game winner” for Rempe too.

This fact also tells you that Lavy trusted his rookie giant during the biggest moment of the series.

But prior to that – it was just fifteen-minutes of Florida attacking CZAR IGOR as if they were Hamas – nothing but bombs, cheap shots and rapid-fire.

The two Russian goalies also kept the game tied, as with 1:50 left, CZAR IGOR robbed Tarasenko (again), while Bob prevented Lafreniere from writing more headlines.

Then, and in the final seconds of regulation, we had two Florida no calls:

When watching this replay back, I definitely thought that Mika was held – but I also thought that Kakko just flat-out tripped.

But despite the other travesties of injustice that these officials perpetrated – I also understood why these alleged penalties weren’t called – and only because you don’t want to see a game end on a late power-play.

Such thinking comes from a jackass.

And if that wasn’t enough for you, then here’s Trouba getting punched in the mouth after the regulation horn went off:

To recap, Trouba was fined for giving Rodrigues a forearm to the cold shoulder, Gustafsson was boxed for a scrum, Lindgren was boxed for a board battle and Mika drew a holding call that was never called. And when the officials watched Trouba get punched in the face by Reinhart? PLAY ON! Photo Credit: ESPN

Two-up after three periods.

Here’s what I said at the time:

I’m a DAY ONE GOODROW FAN – but even I know that the Rangers can’t rely on him to win every playoff game for them. At some point, Mika, Kreider and Panarin MUST show up!


Here’s Zibanejad giving the game away:

After that, Reinhart, who should’ve been in the penalty box for punching Trouba square in the face, scored.

3-2, bad guys.

3-2, bad guys, final.

2-2, your 2024 ECF, after four games played.

I will only be proven correct in my “Lateralette” moniker, a nickname that only suggests that it’s about what the Rangers’ core is doing (or not doing), should the Blueshirts blow this series – and where I’m not hoping to be made right on this either.

Here’s some of Laviolette’s post-game remarks – and where he seemed equally as baffled as us about the no-show from his top stars:

Here’s Lavy confirming the Chytil “load management” stuff:

While I can understand Laviolette’s lack of an explanation about the lack of numbers from his top stars; I still don’t get why he’s trying to ease-in an unhealthy, and not 100% either, Chytil at this most critical juncture of the season.

And for those who still remain hellbent on doing all of the 1994 comparisons – then when will you guys & gals ever bring up how there was no salary cap back then, the top stars from that team all showed up, and for the rotten cherry on top – the officials from that era actually let these guys play?

I’m sorry, but due to my own real job, and my dad’s side work too – then we can’t be at the bar every game in order to increase his now perfect 13-0 record. At some point, the Rangers will have to win a playoff game with us sober! Ugh!

I’m reckoning to guess that the Rangers, returned to New York this Wednesday, will be off.

If there’s a silver lining, then it’s what I said above – the Rangers are tied, not trailing, and Game 5 is to be played on home ice.

In other words – this series isn’t lost after these two dreadful performances – and where heck – they did split down there.

And for as bad as the Rangers have looked, and yes, this is largely because of CZAR IGOR too – it’s not like the Panthers have been able to run away with this series, nor blow-out our beloved Blueshirts in any of these games either.

I don’t know if Panarin needs to shave his head again – and shave Mika’s dome too – but something has to give in Game 5 – or else the Rangers will be looking at elimination for the first time in these playoffs.

I won’t go too GLOOM AND DOOM here – and spell out what happens if the Rangers don’t win this series – so I’ll leave you with this:

I predicted the Rangers in six games.

They are half-way there.


And I now have to find my way to bed, which in other words, means…

PLUGS TIME! (Buy a book and support my Rangers’ induced therapy bills. After all, I don’t run ads on this site!)

My fourth title and tenth book is now available!

“The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History,” is now available for sale!

For complete information, please visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/rangerkillers/

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

My second plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden.”

As mentioned previously, the book is now available in hardcover, in paperback and in Kindle formats. To purchase a copy of the book, visit this link:


For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have re-ordered more copies. I now have a few signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:

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

My four-volume set of books, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is a game-by-game recount of the Rangers 2021-22 campaign.

My second title as an author, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is now available in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats.

To obtain signed copies, visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/onegamebook/

To purchase all four volumes on Amazon, visit: Amazon.com – “One Game at a Time.”

The greatest volume-set of books on Rangers’ history today!

“Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History,” a four-volume set of books that meticulously covers every trade made in franchise history, is now on sale.

All four volumes of the title can be purchased on Amazon.com and are presented in three different formats – eBook, paperback and hardcover.

To purchase Volume I: Conn Smythe (1926) – Craig Patrick (1986), visit Amazon.com

To purchase Volume II: Phil Esposito (1986) – Neil Smith (2000), visit Amazon.com

To purchase Volume III: Glen Sather (2000-2015), visit Amazon.com

To purchase Volume IV: Jeff Gorton (2015) – Chris Drury (2022), visit Amazon.com

To purchase signed copies of all four volumes, visit https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/

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

Now on sale!

Don’t forget to order my four-volume set of books, “Tricks of the Trade!”

If you don’t order through me, all four volumes are now available on Amazon.com

For more details, check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/

Thanks for reading.


Sean McCaffrey


@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine


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8 thoughts on “NYR/FLA ECF Game 4 Review: Deja Vu – But With a Different Ending. Florida Cats Dominating Ranger “FAT CATS;” “Milk Carton Mika” In Full Force, Only 30% of The Blueshirts Show Up; Team Wastes Another CZAR IGOR Master Class & Lafreniere Breakout Game, Lavy Curiously Admits to “Load Managing” “His Health is Our Top Priority” Filip Chytil; Blake Wheeler Returns, More Bad Officiating Mars NYR – But This Fact (All Evidence Provided) Isn’t An Excuse Either, ESPN Sucks & More

  1. Not on a ledge yet but wow that pass brought back nightmares of the season.
    Agree Kappo Gecko is not worth much. Options, Johnny Hockey from the list, move Rempe up to BFF line for a fling? Too many players not producing those options may have some validity. We need to start Playing! LGR !

  2. Kakko was tripped, Panther stick took out his left skate. A trip is consistent with the way he fell, he didn’t just “blow a tire”. Note the end of the clip he was looking at the ref.

  3. First and foremost, there is no lack of effort on this Ranger team, but too many players lack the grit needed for playoff hockey. Fox, Trouba, Lindgen and even Schneids playing with injuries. The real problem:
    1 – “Dorf the Dwarf” Panarin – Unlike a lot of small players he lacks speed, which is his only defense against playoff grab-clutch-interfere hockey, his only weapon is his elite passing skill
    2- “Mika China Doll” Zippo – Just call him what he is, a chicken-shit, ref complaining, salary-cap waste of playoff garbage
    3- “Rafters” Krieder – Formally know as “Casper” for good reason, showing up every 5 games earns you plenty of discussion time. IMHO “Rafters” is the biggest 6’4″ 230 lb “PUSSY” in hockey, but in today’s FU world of ANALytics he will have #20 hung in MSG – please put a skirt on his banner.
    But, despite our top 3 salary failures, we still have IGOR and enough grit players to pull this off – LGR

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