NYR/TBL ECF G6 6/11 Review: A Phenomenal & Historic Blueshirts’ Season Comes to an End; Cup Champs Stifle Upstart Rangers, Congrats to the Bolts, Gallant’s Line-Up, Crazy Criticisms, “Igor’s Better,” Be Proud, Post-Game Quotes, The Future, Final “Hot Takes” & More

Of course, both the final result of Game Six, and this 2022 Eastern Conference Final in general, is not what I desired. However, despite this crushing loss, I still hang my head up high and proclaim – “LET’S GO RANGERS!” Hell, I’ll still be wearing my Rangers’ garb all summer long! Not one fan should be ashamed right now.

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. This wasn’t 2015 Part II. Far from it.

And yep, this will be a long blog – so get out your favorite beverage and enjoy.


A thought, and perhaps the biggest takeaway that I think everyone should have right now? This one:

During the past two years, we’ve been through a lot.

Some of us have even lost loved ones during this pandemic.

And despite that moronic fan attack following Game Five – sports are supposed to be an escape from reality.

The Rangers provided a great escape for us this season. It’s been a thrilling ride.

I don’t know about you, but for me personally – this season has been a joy to watch. It’s been fun. I had a blast writing these manifestos for you guys and gals all season.

While I know that I’m fortunate (health, great family, good friends, a book that you all supported at the start of this season) – I also know that others aren’t as fortunate. I consider myself as lucky.

For me, this 2021-22 season took a lot of “real-life” problems off of my mind. I hope the same applies to you.

When it comes to the on-ice stuff – for us Ranger fans – we lived through a rebuild. It was a tough four years.

Rather than talking about draft picks and ping-pong balls; currently, we now have our hearts broken a bit – a good problem to have.

This temporary feeling of misery tells us that the Rangers are once again competitive in this league.

Don’t forget about that, despite this present moment of feeling like poop.

For these 2021-22 New York Rangers and now beyond; perhaps this was their “Edmonton” moment, when the 1980s Oilers watched the Islanders celebrate their fourth Stanley Cup.

After experiencing that heartbreak; the Oilers then went on to win four Stanley Cups in that decade, with one more to come in 1990.

For the Rangers – good times are ahead.

And yep – while the Oilers won five Stanley Cups after losing to the Islanders; I’m not greedy – I’ll settle for one!

Also worth noting here?

The Rangers could’ve easily been bounced out of the first round in five games. Instead, they went on to play in fifteen more playoff games. Don’t lose sight of that.

(And I’m sure Dolan is happy right now too – how much money do you think he made this Spring?)


One day, I’ll be able to drink out of my 32 ounce Stanley Cup mug. I feel it in my bones!

On Saturday night, at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, Florida; the reigning and defending two-time Stanley Cup Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, knocked off the New York Rangers by a final score of 2-1.

As a result of the Bolts’ one-goal margin Game Six victory – the champs, and not the challengers, will draw the Colorado Avalanche during the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.

The Bolts will probably win it too.

(And if that’s the case – I’d rather lose to the eventual Cup champs than to a pretender.)

There are a ton of things to get into tonight.

As a disclaimer, I’m starting tonight’s blog very late.

In addition – I certainly had more drinks tonight than the Rangers scored goals during their past four games of this series – where no doubt – I definitely had more drinks on Saturday night than the Rangers scored even-strength goals during this entire series!

These silly remarks and admissions now out of the way – I promise to give you something entertaining tonight.

I also promise to give you something uplifting too – because while in the moment this loss sucks – there’s no reason to be ashamed or upset about this team.


For the 28th season in a row – there will be no parade in NYC this month. However, I do feel it’s coming – and perhaps as soon as next season. Photo Credit: Al “SMD” D.

One last time on this site for this 2021-22 season – while 99.9% of this fan base didn’t have the Rangers reaching the Eastern Conference Final this season – I did:

I said this back on October 12th, 2021. Sadly, I also predicted the Bolts to win the series back then too. I take no solace in that “victory.” Ugh.

What I should also remind you of (and for the 897678678978967896th and last time this season) – the majority of the fan base, and the horrible beat reporters too (sans Larry Brooks) – they didn’t have the Rangers qualifying for the playoffs this season in the first place.

Don’t forget that.

In turn, and as talked about last night – we soon experienced one of the best twelve seasons in all of New York Rangers’ history.

This may sound like “loser” talk (and I get it if you feel that way) – but there’s no reason to be ashamed of this 2021-22 team – a team that pulled off both the greatest and biggest 180 in all of franchise history.

I feel that I will say this a lot tonight, but bear with me – as I’m “Drinking While Writing” (those damn DWW’s – but not a criminal offense!); yes, in the moment, this all sucks. It’s upsetting. It blows. It’s another “What If?” in a franchise full of them.

But to go-and-on, and trash every player and the head coach?

Nah, that’s not me.

I’ll let others do that – where yep – these “others” never had this team qualifying for the playoffs to begin with!

I know it’s easy to knock what happened during these past seven days – but I refuse to disparage this team, the head coach and a general manager that brought us to this point to begin with – especially after all of the drama from last season.

Instead, I tip my cap to them and say “thank you.”


Ryan Strome is taking an online beating from Ranger fans. You won’t hear that crap out of me. He gave it his all while playing nowhere near 100%. Photo Credit: ESPN

During tonight’s game (and following it as well); I was tagged in a lot of negative commentary, where people had a million-and-one reasons regarding why the Rangers lost this series.

Not mentioned once in all of that scathing commentary? The Bolts were simply better.

Some blamed the Trouba penalties during Game Three as the turning point of the series. Some blamed the officials for their wretched Game Five showing. Some blamed Ryan Strome. Some blamed the Rangers’ five vs five game, where they only scored one of these goals during their past four games.

Truth be told, some of that is valid, but at the end of the day, this series boiled down to this – Tampa’s top stars (or at least their forward group, as this does NOT apply to CZAR IGOR vs Andrei Vasilevskiy), simply put – were better than the Rangers’ top stars.

Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov were phenomenal – especially when Tampa’s backs were against the wall when down 0-2 in the series. Both men are future Hall of Famers.

Conversely, the Rangers couldn’t get anything out of their “FAT CATS,” as Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider were completely shut down – a credit to Tampa.

And aside from one loss (Game Four) – the Rangers were in every game, and right to the end of each of them – where admittedly, the only reason why was because of the masterclass that CZAR IGOR displayed in net.

And please – don’t send me the 2015 Lundqvist vs 2022 CZAR IGOR comparisons.

When CZAR IGOR becomes the highest-paid player on the team, and also taking up 13% of the salary cap too – then you can do all of that – or so I say.

Until then, there are several players who are making more money (taking up more cap space) than him, and CZAR IGOR outplayed all of them. Is that even debatable?


CZAR IGOR began his Rangers’ legacy during these playoffs. He’ll get a chance to cement it next season, as the ’22 Vezina winner will look to defend his title – and win the Stanley Cup too. Photo Credit: ESPN

I know I may sound all over the place – but I have a ton of thoughts racing around my head like a million Kenyans running during the NYC marathon. Bear with me.

One thought – while the end result was the same – I don’t think you can really compare the 2015 ECF to the 2022 ECF.

As mentioned before, the Rangers were the heavy favorites going into that 2015 ECF. They were the defending Eastern Conference champions at the time. They had the experience. And in my opinion – they also choked.

These 2022 Rangers? They played their hearts out.

However, in this go-around, Tampa was the more experienced team. They know how to win. They were the heavy favorites.

The Rangers didn’t choke in 2022 – Tampa was just better – and perhaps healthier too.

I know it’s weird, but as stated at the start of this series – I don’t hate the Lightning – not even after this.

While it sucks that Tampa now has two consecutive ECF wins over the Rangers; I can’t hate them, nor despise them neither. These Ranger losses are on them. It’s not like Tampa was dirty or got lucky here.

Instead, I tip my cap to the Bolts. They’ve done it right. They built their team through the draft. They play hard. They don’t give up.

And yep – it also doesn’t hurt that they have no income state tax in Florida either – as it gives them a salary cap advantage over the biggest income state tax of the union – New York City.

(However, I won’t play my “Greatest Hits” here – as I’ve previously talked, and ad nauseam at that, about how the NHL allows this cap advantage to go on, and has ignored all talk and notions about leveling the playing field ice.)


I totally understand if you’re thinking about the Rangers’ 2-0 lead during Game Three right now. However, the Rangers still had three more chances to win another game in this series – they didn’t. Photo Credit: NYR

At this time, let me get all of the excuses out of the way, where the word EXCUSES describes everything below:

— Gallant’s line-up from Game Six? Do you really think that Kaapo Kakko would’ve made a difference in the final score tonight?

— Furthermore, when you’re talking about the bottom six and the third pair of defensemen too – that tells you all that you need to know. Talk about the FAT CATS not producing – and not the guys making $1.5M or less.

— Trouba’s penalties during Game Three? Two of them were soft. Plus, the Rangers’ power-play couldn’t find one more goal during a four minute advantage.

— Ryan Strome? The guy is all banged-up and willed his way out there. I can’t knock a guy for trying to help his team while hurt.

— Artemi Panarin? While his performances during these playoffs were disappointing; sometime next week, you’ll hear what I reported here first – he has a shoulder injury.

— Tampa was more experienced. The Rangers have plenty of veterans too, and each playoff run is different from another. The Rangers had them on the ropes. They couldn’t score the knockout blow as if they were Mr. Anastasio. (I know, bad joke, go with it.)

— Ranger fans got too cocky, especially with the “IGOR’s BETTER” stuff. Please – fans should live in the moment. To accuse fans of being a jinx, a hex, a curse, or whatever; well that’s all hogwash and a lame explanation. However, if Tampa fans want to troll us right now – I get it.

— The officials? Sure, they were terrible during Game Five, but that was one game. The Rangers had plenty of chances to win the other games of this series.


Instead of excuses, here are some valid points on why the Rangers lost this series, points that aren’t meant to be disparaging, but instead, points full of truth:

— The Rangers couldn’t score five vs five. Give credit to Tampa’s defense for that.

— The Rangers had two horrible trends all series – they allowed Tampa to attack during the final minutes of every period, where they looked completely overwhelmed during these crucial minutes. On two occasions, this led to Tampa game winning goals.

— The other horrible trend? It felt that whenever the Rangers would score a big goal, they didn’t know how to react, and in turn, Tampa would score a dagger in their response. This happened in Game Six too.

— The Ranger injuries outweighed Tampa’s injuries. While yes, Brayden Point was out for Tampa; the Bolts had plenty of players who stepped up for him. The Rangers, fatigued and not at 100%, couldn’t match that.

— Tampa won the “puck-luck” battle, where two fluke bounces gave them two victories in this series. Shit happens. Unfortunately, this shit happened at the expense of the Rangers. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.


There will be a lot of talk about Kakko’s future during this off-season. Photo Credit: NYR

Before going into our regular segments, and since I don’t want to bury all of this stuff at the end of tonight’s blog; a few comments about the future:

— With this season now over, I have a decision to make. I really want to do a 2021-22 “Yearbook” compendium of the blogs from this season. However, I’m also pretty much 85% done with my trades book. I’ll have to decide which book to finish prior to the start of the 2022-23 season.

— I know that in the moment, this loss stings, but as I’ve been saying all along – I’m proud of this team. It’s a historic team that deserves huge attention and praise. The trades book can be released at any time, a book that’s already at 2,000 pages (I’ll have to release it as a volume set) and a book that shouldn’t be rushed for a 9/1/22 deadline anyway.

— Believe it or not – I had one media outlet offer me a paid position (a lowly paid position at that), to cover the New Jersey Devils next season. I turned it down. I rather run this site for free (although I may offer a donation button next season, should you so be inclined) rather than do that. After all, this site/blog is a hobby.

— End of the day – I’m a silly blogger – and my writing would be garbage if I were forced to cover a team that’s not the Rangers. Simply stated – I don’t have any passion for any other team besides the Blueshirts.

— When it comes to this site’s future during the summer, I’ll have a few wrap-up tomes for you. It’s my goal to put out at least one blog a week. However, most of my free time will go to my book writing – where hey, in less than three months, we’re right back to the preseason!

— As far as the future of the Rangers, we can talk about the off-season during the upcoming weeks ahead. In the moment, I know that people are worried about Strome and also think that Kakko is out of town. Just like Gallant – I don’t think RIGHT NOW is the time for that – we have all summer to talk about that.

— And lastly, before going into everything Game Six related; a big thank you to all of you readers.

During these playoffs, I was doing over 20,000 hits a day on this site.

Keep in mind, I post one big ass blog – and don’t post 9765795566795675675 updates for artificial traffic boosts.

While I know that I have a lot of repeat traffic (some of you tell me that you read these blogs in separate sessions, which in turn, “fake boosts”/increases traffic), I’m still awed by that number.

Of course, if I was money-hungry, I’d run every ad that’s thrown my way (I turn down a ton of bullshit) and then bombard you with those links. I haven’t done that at all, as I do want to stay true to my passion – the New York Rangers.

Hell, name another blog, podcast, site, or whatever else; that provides as much content for one click, and without an ad to found!

At this time, let’s get into all of the pregame news and interviews first, and then into the main event – the GAME REVIEW.


Always!

I covered all of Friday’s news here: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/61022/

On Saturday, game day, head coach Gerard Gallant spoke to the media one last time prior to the Rangers’ sixth elimination game of this postseason:


Outside of the same old cliches and talking about the obvious stakes at hand; Gallant teased that he may tinker around with his line-up, a decision that he said he had to be careful about.

(And yes – there is a ton of talk about this right now.)

Gallant also said that he didn’t want to give out a vibe of “panic” by doing anything too drastic, but at the same time, wanted to ignite a “spark.”

Brayden Point, who did practice on Saturday morning, was a topic of discussion too, where the head coach said what he always says – it’s about what his team does and he can’t worry about what the other team is doing.


Gallant didn’t wear the POWER POWDER BLUE SUIT tonight. Maybe he should of done so! Photo Credit: NYR

Come 7:30PM, I felt like I was living in the “TWILIGHT ZONE,” where instead of Rod Serling narrating, it was Mike Francesa providing the commentary.

If you don’t get the Mike Francesa reference; when he was active on WFAN, there would be times where he’d do live play-by-play of games, where he was all over the place. That’s what Gallant’s line-up was tonight.

For thirty consecutive minutes (while M$GN told you to gamble your life savings on this game, despite no line-up announced), we had about 976789678678686896 different line-up reports, reports that were as baffling as the Rangers’ during five-vs-five play.

During all of this, it was reported that Ryan Reaves was out. Then it was reported that Strome was out. Then it was reported that Kakko was out. Then it was reported that Gallant had changed his lines completely, despite saying earlier that he didn’t want to give off of a vibe of total panic.

Come 8PM, we finally saw Gallant’s starting lines, where Kakko and Reaves were out, while Strome and Dryden Hunt were in.

There was a lot of discussion and criticism concerning Gallant’s lines tonight. (And I totally get it.)

However, I stay true to what I always say – the head coach knows his team better than me – and better than anyone else too.

I also don’t think it made a difference either, because as noted 908678967678969 times before – it’s up to the Rangers’ big guns to score big goals. Instead, they shot blanks.

For what it’s worth, Gallant was asked twice about scratching Kakko tonight.

During an in-game interview with ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, the Turk replied with a simple “nope,” when asked if he’d explain his decision.

Following the game (video provided below), Gallant, as he’s often done, talked down to Wince Mercogliano (a reporter more interested in posting what he ate for dinner and copying & pasting stuff from analytical websites, rather than providing unique commentary/analysis) and said tonight wasn’t the night to talk about his line-up.

For what it’s worth, while I don’t read Mercogliano’s work (it’s impossible to do so even if I wanted to – as his site has 678678687968968796 ads and spyware, stuff that freezes my computer and phone anytime when I try to view it), it was the right question to ask.

(And this is a personal thing, that’s both age and experience influenced too – outside of Brooks, I don’t get anything out of these current crop of beat reporters. I know a younger generation feels differently and I totally understand why – as that’s also my “reader relationship” with the Hall of Fame Brooks.

Simply put – I turn forty years old on June 13th. I’ve seen more hockey and know this franchise better than these beat reporters – not a humble brag or boast – but the truth. It’s tough for me to gain anything from reading people much younger and less experienced with this franchise than me. I hope this makes sense, as I’m not trying to crap on these folk.)

And to just jump ahead for a second – Gallant later blamed fatigue for the Rangers’ loss.

After all, the Rangers had played 19 games in 38 nights.

You could see it in the faces of both the head coach and his team following the game, where Gallant even said that he wished they got to a Game Seven, if only for those two days off.

Instead, the Rangers will have the entire summer off – where yep, and as we’ll get into at a later date – this roster will change.


Here’s what “The Turk” ultimately went with for this “Dustin Tokarski” tribute game:

FIRST LINE: Lafreniere/Zibanejad/Vatrano

SECOND LINE: Panarin/Strome/Copp

THIRD LINE: Kreider/Chytil/Goodrow

FOURTH LINE: Motte/Rooney/Hunt

Defensively, we had this:

FIRST D-PAIR: Lindgren/Fox

SECOND D-PAIR: Trouba/Miller

THIRD D-PAIR: Braun/Schneider

And in net, CZAR IGOR.


BOX SCORE time.

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

SCORING:

PENALTIES:

TEAM STATS:

GOALIES:

TBL
SA
GA
SV
SV%
ESSV
PPSV
SHSV
SOSA
SOS
TOI
PIM
21 1 20 .952 19 0 1 0 0 60:00 0

 

NYR
SA
GA
SV
SV%
ESSV
PPSV
SHSV
SOSA
SOS
TOI
PIM
21 1 20 .952 19 0 1 0 0 60:00 0

Want a silver lining about this Rangers’ loss? We won’t have to see Sieve Vagistat for the next three months. I really hope M$GN replaces him with someone who has actually played more than 46 games in the NHL next season. Give me Lundqvist and Cally. Hell, give me Lundqvist and Messier!

For the first time during this ECF series – ESPN opted to go with no pregame show. Ridiculous.

Instead of talking about the biggest game of this series – ESPN aired some high school’s track-and-field competition.

Really ESPN? What a disgrace.

Rather than talking about this series and showing us the pregame warm-ups (which they did during Games One through Five); the “world-wide leader” showed us teenage girls handing off batons to each other.

Pathetic.

The M$GN pregame show was no better.

Despite this being the biggest game of the season, for whatever reason – Henrik Lundqvist was not there.

Maybe he was at the Belmont Stakes. Maybe he had to attend his daughter’s dance recital. I really don’t know.

What I do know is this – Marty Biron and Sieve Vagistat stink.

The number one theme throughout these thirty minutes on M$GN was about the line-up; a line-up, as previously mentioned – we’d never know until puck drop.

And perhaps this game was doomed from the jump, when during the Dave Maloney segment; M$GN lost their signal from Tampa and that was the end of that.

While M$GN did provide breaking news updates about the line-up changes (Strome out, Strome in, Kakko out, Kakko in, Kakko out, Hunt in, etc); M$GN didn’t focus too deep on the line-up – as instead, they ran their planned segments, including another one of those horrible deals where Vagistat promotes his own ANALytical company.

Really, do you need Vagistat’s charts to tell you that the Rangers need to score more goals? My own two eyes told me that one.

The rest of the M$GN pregame show was repetitive, and without Lundqvist there – was all meaningless.


Come 8:05PM, when ESPN begrudgingly decided that watching a bunch of minors running around had to be replaced by hockey; they didn’t talk about the game right away. Instead, they told us to turn off this game, and go buy their UFC PPV.

After all, for “E$PN” – UFC PPV’s generate more money for them than hockey games.

(And as you know, I’m a huge UFC fan. I didn’t watch one second of tonight’s PPV, although I’ll probably watch it tomorrow.)

ESPN, who like all of us, didn’t know the lines either; the network then closed their two minute pregame show with Chris Chelios picking the Bolts, while Messier stayed true to his Rangers in Seven prediction.

Ugh, for all of us, and Messier himself too – and so much for that Edmonton vs New York “Messier Stanley Cup.”

Instead, the NHL got the Final and the story-line that they wanted – Three-Peat vs Destiny.

For the last time this season – the main event, the Game Review – where yep, I’ll try to limit the pain.


CZAR IGOR was phenomenal tonight. Photo Credit: Henry I.

FIRST PERIOD:

Let’s get this out of the way before saying anything else – CZAR IGOR did everything he could tonight.

Of his 29 saves (it felt like 290); I’d reckon to say that 26 of them were of the “HIGH DANGER” variety.

Conversely, of the twenty saves that Andrei Vasilevskiy made tonight (AV from this point forward); only one of them was tough. (A Copp rebound after a Trouba SOG.)

This game was the CZAR IGOR SHOW, where without him, not only would the final score be something akin to 10-0 Tampa – it could’ve been 10-0 Tampa during the first period too.

If there’s any criticism, it’s the fact that the first goal that CZAR IGOR allowed tonight was a softy.

That’s not an indictment or a knock on him either – it’s just that after watching CZAR IGOR make 45845474574 billion ridiculous saves; the first goal allowed was something that he usually stops 99.9% of the time.

In other words – there’s no way in hell that you can blame the goalie for this loss.

If you need someone to blame, don’t look at Igor (and don’t look at Gallant either) – look at the FAT CATS who were just overwhelmed all game – where sad to say, and as you’ll soon see – were fighting back tears during their post-game interviews.


I see a lot of Ranger fans crapping on Kreider right now. I’m not one of them. Yeah, it sucks that they lost, but how can you forget everything else he’s done all season? Photo Credit: Aaron Davis (RIP)

The Rangers were doomed from the start – despite Mika winning the first faceoff of the game and AV being forced to make the first save of the game – a stop on Lafreniere.

After that, here’s how this first period went: turnover, long Tampa attack, turnover, turnover, turnover, 2-3 amazing saves out of CZAR IGOR, odd-man rush allowed, turnover, turnover, turnover, and another turnover.

It got so bad at one point, that the Rangers were flipping pucks out of their own defensive zone (giveaways), as if they were playing catch with a child.

As was the case for most of this series – the Rangers had a horrid time when trying to get pucks out of the zone.

Just three minutes in, the Rangers gave up their first odd-man rush of many – a Tampa advantage that was soon snuffed out by Braden Schneider – who as mentioned many times during this post-season – was a happy surprise for the Blueshirts.

However, the never-ending turnovers would soon prove to be too much for CZAR IGOR.

We’ve seen this before, and once again, CZAR IGOR, rather than relying on his defensemen, would try to clear pucks himself.

On multiple occasions, this would backfire, and repeatedly at that; as these pucks would soon land on the blades of the Bolts – but as he always does – #31 bailed himself out by making every save imaginable following these turnovers.

And you can’t blame CZAR IGOR either for any of this.

After all, how many times can he watch his team spend over a minute in their defensive zone without a clear/escape?

Plus, with the Rangers turning over every puck imaginable – why not him too? At least his clearing attempts looked better than the ones that his teammates were attempting.

It got so bad, that not even five minutes in, the Bolts were leading the shot attempts stat, 12-3. Let that sink in.

AV, who could’ve had a Fresca and a Fribble in net tonight; made a save on a weak Chytil backhander with 13:20 to go.

After that, Hedman got away with a high-stick on Kreider.

For what it’s worth, the officials missed a ton of calls tonight – and on both sides.

In other words, unlike Game Five – you can’t bitch about the mooks in stripes tonight.

As we hit the half-way point of this game, this much was evident – the Rangers looked desperate, rather than playing with desperation. It really felt like men against boys.

As Igor continued to make save-after-save after these never-ending turnovers; he made one more, his tenth of the period – an incredible stop on Hedman with 8:30 remaining.

A minute later, and with Igor trying to force pucks out, he turned over the puck, where in a rare instance – the Rangers’ defense bailed him out, as Miller blocked what would’ve been a goal.

With 6:15 to go, Tampa increased their shot attempts advantage to 23-7. Yikes.

Down to five minutes remaining, this is when Kaplan interviewed Gallant, where “The Turk” was very curt and short with the reporter.

Conversely, later on, during the second period, and in a tied game; Jon Cooper, bench boss of the Bolts, pretty much gave Kaplan his life story.

Maybe I’m looking too much into this, but as I hinted at last night – you could see who was more confident here.

Gallant could’ve made diamonds with his clenched ass, while his peer and buddy, Mr. Coop, was “loosey-goosey.”

After two missed calls, one soft (Colton interference on Fox) and one extremely blatant (Vatrano being high-sticked, held and tackled, and all in one sequence); with 2:52 to go, Panarin found himself wide-open in the high slot.

As has been the case throughout the duration of these playoffs; Panarin was allergic to shooting right away, as he opted to let Tampa’s D to settle down, which then allowed the Bolts to then block his shot.

Under a minute to go, CZAR IGOR came up huge again, when he robbed Cirelli of scoring the game’s first goal.

Right after that, Game Five hero, Mikhail Sergachev, blatantly punched Vatrano in front of an official. No call. Even ESPN, who were not Ranger backers during this series, laughed at this bad no call.

In a period that could’ve been a Tampa double-digit lead if it weren’t for #31 in white; we remained nil-nil.

Here’s what I said at the time:


I don’t want to shit-talk them; but yeah, Zibanejad and Panarin didn’t do much during these past four games – the first Rangers’ four-game losing streak of this season.

SECOND PERIOD:

Despite a terrible first period; I thought that the Rangers would finally showcase a sense of urgency with their season on the line.

It never came.

Following ESPN ripping Gallant a new five-hole, for playing the obviously injured Ryan Strome; the second stanza began, with the Bolts picking up where they left off.

Right away, as in just twenty seconds into the period; CZAR IGOR made a FABULOUS denial on Cirelli.

Thirty seconds later, Hagel came close too.

A minute after that; CZAR IGOR stopped another Tampa odd-man rush, when he denied Kucherov during a Tampa two vs one, with Stammer by #86’s side.

No joke – Igor did everything imaginable here, but his team could never come close to matching his performance.

With 17:27 to go, Trouba destroyed Corey Perry with a “TROO TROO TRAIN” hit.

While the hit was clean (meaning not a head shot); this was probably interference.

However, the officials had already missed three penalties committed by Tampa at this point – so kudos to them for not bagging #8 here.

Down to 16:31 remaining, Rooney crashed AV’s net.

Despite Bogosian fighting with him, and Sergachev cross-checking him too – we had off-setting penalties on both Rooney and Sergachev.

I guess defending yourself from two players attacking you is a reason for a two-minute time-out. Horrible officiating.

The Rangers “foreplay” during these two minutes wasn’t much to speak of – just like their full-strength game.

You know it’s bad, that once back to five-vs-five, it was Ryan Lindgren, and not one of the FAT CATS, trying to drive the offense.

As Panarin continued to avoid the net as if it was the Bubonic Plague; come eleven minutes remaining, Gallant played around with his lines, where Kreider was back to his top spot.

Come the third period, Double G. would go with Panarin/Mika/Kreider – his top gun line – where come to think of it – I think they’ve only scored one goal together all season.

With 10:27 to go, Lafreniere got away with a high hit to Hedman’s jaw.

Two things here:

One, Hedman smashed his stick on the bench, with the remnants of his spear left all over the ice. Last time I checked – that’s an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. No call.

Two, Hedman was done for the rest of this period. (He’d return for the final frame.)

I bring this up, because Tampa, now down to five d-men, and with their best d-man out nonetheless – would never relent. This was a perfect opportunity for the Rangers to capitalize. Instead, they continued to fail.

With 9:17 to go, Stamkos, while shooting around Lindgren from the top left circle, found a way and scored.

This was a bad goal for Igor to allow, but let me say this for the 78967868767th time and to be clear – this game very easily could’ve been 10-0 at this time.

1-0, bad guys.

It was up to the Rangers to pick up their goalie. They didn’t.

Instead, they allowed Tampa to immediately get another two vs one odd-man rush – an Igor denial on Bogosian, and with 7:58 remaining.

At the time, the shot attempts were now 42-19; champs. Not good.

Down to 7:01 to go, Panarin was boxed for a soft high stick on noted sniper, Erik Cernak. This was a penalty, but at this juncture of the game – the officials had allowed far worse to go undetected.

Yep, you know it – CZAR IGOR was the man during this Rangers’ PK.

Following Igor’s denials, and now back to full strength; Panarin ran away from the net like a little kid seeing a bee, and turned over the puck instead.

Not to be outdone – Trouba then turned over the puck too, and with 3:25 to go in this now one-goal game.

Down to 2:05 remaining, Trouba broke up an odd-man rush.

Of note, the Rangers only had 12 shots on goal at this time, as AV could’ve turned his net into a hammock and took a nap.

Somehow, the Rangers got out of this period only down by one goal.

Here’s the understatement of all understatements – it was truly amazing that this game was still a one-shot difference.

Here’s what I said at the time:


Your favorite goalie, and your favorite blogger too, after CZAR IGOR’s first NHL game from January 2020. Of note: I still shave my head. CZAR IGOR now has a head that rivals a watered “CHIA” pet.

THIRD PERIOD:

During Kaplan’s intermission interview with Steven Stamkos; Stammer said that he expected the Rangers to come out like gangbusters. While I understood the sentiment – there was no reason to believe that. The Rangers were just dominated by the champs.

Following Mika’s faceoff win, two things were reported, and neither items were good news for the Rangers – Hedman was back and Strome was done for the game.

The Bolts continued to overwhelm the Rangers, as just fifty seconds in – Igor stopped Hagel from making this a two-goal deficit.

Down to 17:34 remaining – Perry high-sticked Chytil. In a rare occurrence – the officials actually called a penalty here.

This Rangers’ power-play was pretty bad, where Tampa blocked either four or five shots. Vatrano going wide ended this man-advantage.

During one of these shot blocks, Cernak was injured, but he’d later return to the game.

With 13:40 to go, and with the Rangers’ season going tick-tick-tick; Hagel held both Miller and his stick (not that one perv!) ESPN once again laughed about this no call.

Forty seconds later, AV made his best save of the game, and really, the only save he had to make, when he stopped Copp after a Trouba bomb.

Right after the save, Tampa’s faithful belted out, “VASY’S BETTER!”

I can’t knock Vasilevskiy – he’s still the best goalie in the game today.

However, Igor was challenged much more during this series and he was fantastic.

Put Igor in Tampa’s net and the final result of this series stays the same.

Down to ten minutes remaining, AV’s insane elimination game stats were talked about. At the time, he had a .14 GAA and a .995 save percentage – NHL records – and stats that will probably never be rivaled.

With 8:15 to go, the Rangers received a big break, when Stamkos held Lafreniere.

Once again, the Rangers’ first PP unit couldn’t do much.

However, with just 6:53 remaining; Frank Vatrano temporarily saved the Rangers’ season, as he blasted a puck past AV.

1-1.

As yours truly, and my friend/neighbor/road-trip buddy, TEN O’CLOCK TOMMY were doing the “Macerana;” while my buddy EDDIE WHISTLES was texting me messages of joy; just 21 seconds later – Stamkos scored.

2-1, bad guys.

Same old shit.

Once again, the Rangers scored a big goal, only to allow their opponent to score afterwards.

This was another odd-man rush allowed, where Igor got a piece of Kucherov’s initial try, only for Stamkos to capitalize.

This was also a fifty-fifty goal, as Stamkos made contact with Igor, but even as a Rangers’ fan – I thought this was a good goal.

The officials wasted no time during their video review, where just ten seconds later – they ruled good goal.

Too bad Igor doesn’t wear black-and-yellow, Pittsburgh’s colors – as then, and only then, would this goal be erased from the scoreboard.

That was it.

Tampa, now back with the lead, went into “JAWS” mode, where they smelt blood and came to feast.

The Rangers could barely touch the puck.

Put it this way – Gallant couldn’t pull IGOR until there were only 62 seconds remaining.

The Rangers didn’t bother AV either.

With 15.1 seconds to go, a Mika puck was sent out of play. Gallant took his timeout afterwards.

The Rangers would win the o-zone faceoff that followed, but didn’t put a SOG.

2-1, bad guys, 2-1 final, Tampa wins the series 4-2 after being down 0-2.

I’m not a Tampa hater – kudos to the champs. I think they’ll beat the Avalanche for one reason, and one reason alone – goaltending.


I know it’s tough to do now, but take solace in the fact that we saw a ton of the “youts” take big leaps during this postseason, including Lafreniere, Schneider and Miller himself. Photo Credit: NYR

Here are the post-game interviews, where yep – you might need a Kleenex after watching them:

Gallant:


Trouba and Fox:


And the tough one, Mika and Kreider:


Another silver lining from this ’22 playoff run – all doubts have been answered – CZAR IGOR is durable and can do it in the post-season.

It’s official – the 2021-22 season for the Rangers is now complete – where at the end of the day – they finished third-best in the NHL.

Let that comment sink in.

THIRD-BEST IN THE NHL.


Sunday will be day of decompression and reflection – where again – be upset, but don’t besmirch these guys.

Exit interviews will take place later this week, most likely on Monday and Tuesday.

I’ll cover all of that for you.

Once these final interviews are conducted, then we can do a playoff “report card,” where you probably can guess all of the grades already.

In a week or so, we can start looking at the off-season and the 2022-23 Rangers, where yep, you guessed it again – Strome and Kakko will get a ton of ink.

In a thought that probably no one has on their minds rights now – good luck with your new team, Alexandar Georgiev.

One last time – in the moment, this “Father Finkin'” blows.

In time, when you look back at this – this was a season to remember – don’t forget that.

Let’s Go Rangers.

PLUGS TIME.


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

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

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

https://www.amazon.com/Rangers-Rafters-Madison-Square-Garden-ebook/dp/B09CM5N2WD

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


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

Do-Or-Die Part VI: The New York Rangers Must Catch Lightning in a Bottle; Gallant Speaks, M$G Assaulter Arrested; Banned For Life, 2021-22 Rangers = A Historic Team To Remember & More


NYR/TBL ECF G5 Review: Officials and Bolts “69” Each Other on 6/9; “Fat Cat” Rangers At Fault Too, Blueshirts’ Backs Against the Wall (Again); Gallant Calls Out Officiating, Puck Luck, Turning Points, Fan Assaults (Video), Goaltenders, ESPN/M$G & More


NYR/TBL 6/7 Review: Lightning Strikes Twice in Tampa; ECF Now a Best of Three, Fat Cats Neutered; Injuries Galore, Quicksand Blueshirts, Good Game for Ranger Doubters, Panarin’s Never-Ending Turnovers, Gallant, Win at Home, Not Dead Yet & More


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


Is it too soon to run this picture for next season?

Enjoy the summer – even if I’ll keep on plugging away here.

Like Mr. Rogers once said, “won’t you join me?”

LET’S GO RANGERS!

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on Tweeter

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20 thoughts on “NYR/TBL ECF G6 6/11 Review: A Phenomenal & Historic Blueshirts’ Season Comes to an End; Cup Champs Stifle Upstart Rangers, Congrats to the Bolts, Gallant’s Line-Up, Crazy Criticisms, “Igor’s Better,” Be Proud, Post-Game Quotes, The Future, Final “Hot Takes” & More

  1. Biron made a solid point, comparing this team to the 2012 version; spend that much energey dickinga round in the early rounds, you will pay a price later in the playoffs. Same thing happened in 2015. Learning to win?

    Cooper noticed Rangers have lost concentration numerous times after scoring a goal; serious failure to self scout.

    KNOW had a Ranger scored such a goal, Toronto would have went over that video with the finest of tooth combs to find some bullshit reason to disallow it.

    1. Yeah I hinted at the 2012 stuff the other night. But then again, up 2-0 in the series, 2-0 in Game Three – they had them for the taking.

      Also, these Rangers had a much better offense than the 2012 group – could never score during the final four games.

      Cooper, and everyone noticed that. These quick goals after scoring happened a lot this season.

      As stated, just imagine if Igor was in Pittsburgh’s colors. No goal.

      Not sure if it would’ve mattered anyway.

  2. Sean – Great job all season long. It was a terrific ride, and it was fun taking it with you. Your passion for NYR made your blog mandatory reading for all NYR fans. Thanks for many hours of reading pleasure. Happy 40th Birthday!

    1. Thanks Bill, good talking with you and everyone else too.

      This next week should be busy, and then the draft and FA is right around the corner. There will be downtime, but nowhere as much downtime when compared to the last four seasons.

    1. Thanks Butta, hopefully we’ll meet up next time you’re in town. I think I missed your last appearance because I was getting my booster shot before the trip to LA/Vegas.

  3. Sean, I got on your blog early in the season and look forward to reading it every single time! Thank you! I stayed positive all season long and was not disappointed in their effort. Disappointed in the finish but it was great to see them complete. Maybe next year we can get some credit from the mainstream media covering us. I thought the ESPN announcers didn’t think we belonged in the playoffs let alone playing against Carolina and Tampa. Ray Ferraro gave the Rangers credit as the series progressed. But the other guy, no credit. He even said Trouba with another “high” hit on Perry. Then Ferraro had to correct him again as he did quite frequently. But anyway. Happy birthday and thanks for all of your hard work!

    1. Hey DWB–

      Glad you found the site. How did you hear about it?

      Also glad you were positive too – we were rewarded.

      It’s a shame TNT didn’t have the Ranger games. ESPN, aside from Messier, was awful. I still can’t believe they didn’t have a pregame show last night.

      If you haven’t read it already, check out the book – nothing out there like it.

      LGR

      1. I found your site after doing. Ranger blogs search at the start of the season. And yes I thought that TNT did a good job. I hated the ESPN drone shots as well as the long pan shots.
        Dave

  4. Sean –

    Thanks again for the season of great reviews.

    When I am still watching Rangers hockey in the middle of June. That is a good thing.

    Yes, this team has flaws, but they overachieved this year. mainly because of Shesterkin.

    Do you think Tampa will beat Colorado? haha. I doubt that. I am a Rangers fan, but I have Avalanche season tickets. Do not worry, we will kick Tampa’s ass for all Rangers fandom.

    I am curious to hear about the Kakko saga. Benching him and icing Strome will probably get questioned a few times.

    They made a great run. I enjoyed the whole season.

    LGR

    1. Hey Tom—

      Thanks, I appreciate it.

      Your second sentence was 100% spot-on and accurate.

      Do you live in Colorado? I think you may have told me this before but maybe I’m misremembering.

      I just think Tampa wins the Cup because of goaltending. Every Ranger hater whined about the goalies they faced, but who has Colorado beaten? A back-up in Nashville, a back-up in STL and the worst starter in the league.

      Maybe we’ll get more on KK during exit interviews. I’m hearing chirps it was discipline related, but those are rumors for now – not facts.

      LGR

      1. Yes, I live in Lakewood. 6 miles from Denver.

        I am the genius who asked if I could donate money to you.

        I will be at game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday. I think that you are making way too big of a deal about the goalie. If this series goes to five games, I will be surprised.

        1. Hey Tom-

          I remember the donation, and thank you again for that. I do appreciate it – covered my booze from last night lol

          Maybe it’s me, but I just won’t buy the Avalanche until they do it. They’ve proved me wrong this far though.

          And to be fair – I would’ve picked NYR against Colorado too because of the goalie too lol

          1. My brother asked who I would root for if the Rangers play the Avs. I said both teams.

            i also said that the Avalanche would beat both of the teams from the East.

            You do have an uncanny knack for predicting hockey games though. I have watched all of the Rangers games. all of the Avalanche games this year. The Avalanche are scary good this year.

            I think the Avs are going to win the first game 4-0.

          2. You could be right, but I don’t think they’ll be able to run’n’gun it up with TB.

            May come down to who gets the puck luck/bounces.

  5. Hi Sean, newly minted Rangers fan from the UK.
    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog all season and your positivity and conviction have shone through where others began to doubt.
    I feel blessed to started my journey this year, I know I’m lucky and it won’t always be like this! I’m tremendously proud of the team, they really gave it everything in a roller-coaster ride.
    LGR! Keep up the good work!
    Paul.

    1. Hey Paul-

      Glad you’re along for the ride.

      It was easy to be negative in other seasons, and truthfully – warranted. This season, I just felt they’d turn it around and would be good. The Eye Test never fails!

      I think I’ve said this before on the site – they won the Cup in 1994, one day after my 12th birthday. At the time, I thought that’s the way it always would work. Oops!

      LGR

      Sean

  6. Sean –

    Great Blog here! Keep up the good work. Only found you recently after reading a different rangers blog (which just didn’t have enough meat on the bones).

    This one still hurts and will for some time. I’ve been thinking a lot today about an early game in the season, game 6 in Ottawa. I remember watching that game and thinking about how special it was – at game 6! They gave up goals early in the first and early in the third. Offense couldn’t get anything going until a PP goal with ~ 5:30 remaining, which served as a catalyst and the rangers scoring 3 times in about two and a half minutes for the come from behind win.

    Yes, it was early in the season, and yes, it was against Ottawa. Now when I look at our performance in the playoffs, I can’t help but think back to that snap-shot in time. The Rangers were developing their identity in a new season following in-house changes and a significant roster shake-up. What was their identity as a team last offseason? To an extent, their identity was smothered by this narrative of lacking in grit and toughness; that’s who they were. However, even in game 6 there was belief in the room and in their ability to come back (and that is prior to all of the trade deadline acquisitions). Sure, every team can think they can come back, but do you do it? That’s why these playoffs were so important for the Rangers. They come back to the playoffs for the first time in years and like everyone is saying, could have lost to Pitt in 5. And we all know they didn’t. They wrote their own narrative and began forging their identity in these playoffs. Without a doubt, that identity is going to continue to change throughout the off-season; this team will be different and will have to compensate for the depth of deadline acquisitions they received to remain at the same competitive level. However, I think the giant, giant steps they took this postseason will pay tremendous dividends moving forward.

    Rangers are back.

    1. Hey Adam-

      Glad you found the site. I really only check one other blog outside of my own, as the rest of them are all repetitive and unoriginal to me. And once I see analytical sites quoted, I’m out of there lol

      There are a ton of good moments like that Ottawa game too, too many list to here, but that Lindgren walkoff against Boston, pretty much most of Igor’s games, the Miller goal vs Det, Fox’s shootout winner, Trouba’s Gordie Howe’s, Schneider in SJ, Copp’s hat trick vs NYI, Kreider 50, Kreider 52, etc

      I get the whole gaining experience thing, and they most certainly did – 15 more games at that, but was hoping they’d close against Tampa. Not mad, but man, if they could’ve protected that lead, forget about it.

      New blog is up, where this team vs next season’s team will differ big-time is with the cap. They won’t have the wiggle room they had this year. I’m really interested to see what Drury does.

      Just a shame the NHL doesn’t level the playing field with the income tax states vs no income tax states. And all this TV money? The cap should be increased.

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