NYR/FLA ECF G6 Review & Season Post-Mortem: “The Team of Destiny” Meets Their Fatal Fate; Only CZAR IGOR Plays Great, Verbal Violence Regarding “All Talk In NY;” Finger-Pointing at Every Scapegoat, The 2023-24 Obituary, Quick Off-Season Thoughts; Who Stays (CZAR IGOR, Lindgren & Schneider) & Who Has To Go (Kakko, Mika & Trouba), Lavy’s Curious Coaching Calls & Drury’s Dubious Deadline Can’t Be Ignored; The Never-Ending BFF Line RW Du Jour, The Thought of Doing This All Over Again, Allaire & More

Be advised: The following 10,000 words that you’ll find below are not for the feint of heart – nor will there be any sort of sugarcoating found either. Simply put, the Blueshirts, and following Saturday night’s Game 6 loss by another one goal deficit, their third of the series, and this time by a final score of 2-1 – FAILED – and there’s a whole lot of finger-pointing to go around too. Plus, I also need to purge and vent everything out of my system. Furthermore, you should also take into consideration that this six-game series loss wasn’t a close one either – and the disparity between these two final teams of the East was vast and wide. In other words, had this been a back-and-forth series, then perhaps I’d be a bit tamer than the viciousness that you’ll now experience.

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. I don’t know how much longer that I can continue to do this.

It’s over for your 2023-24 New York Rangers, who opened the postseason with six straight wins, but then, and for whatever reason, head coach Peter Laviolette decided that getting an unhealthy Filip Chytil going was the team’s “top priority” during the biggest games of the season – and where shortly thereafter – the team ultimately finished the playoffs by going 4-6 – and with a three-game losing streak to close out the campaign too.

And while Laviolette, nor Chytil either, are absolved from any of the blame and finger-pointing that’s currently taking place in Rangerstown, USA – but they also aren’t the only two scapegoats when summarizing another failed season in franchise history.

Far from it.

Of course, and as it has been for some time now whenever talking about recent Rangers’ playoff misery, then it starts at the top with the team’s two highest-paid forwards, the $11.6M Artemi Panarin and the $8.5M Mika Zibanejad – and where if it wasn’t for a “let me get your hopes up before kicking you in the balls again” goal scored by “The Breadman,” who looked like burnt toast all series, and with just 1:40 remaining in the season – then these two, the alleged “1-2 scoring punch” of the team, finished with ZERO goals during the biggest playoff series of their respective careers – and of this current core’s run too.

(Holy run-on sentence Batman – but bear with me – as I’m writing with red in my eyes and black in my Blueshirts’ heart – and a heart that’s been broken one too many times now.)

Panarin said these seven words, verbatim, prior to the first puck drop of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Following another no-show series from #10, now what? After all, it’s not like you can trade him even if you wanted to because of his no-movement-clause contract. Furthermore, without Panarin’s year-in and year-out MVP performances during the regular season, then the Rangers perhaps don’t even qualify for the playoffs in the first place. As I write the words on 6/2/24 – and Panarin is the most polarizing Ranger of all-time. Photo Credit: B/R Open Ice

While we’ll eventually get into all of the events from Game 6; but for now, and to open, the best way to summarize the final game of the 2023-24 Rangers’ season is by saying what plagued the Blueshirts in their previous three losses once again ailed them in the series finale.

And my oh my, let’s count the ways:

— Laviolette’s absolute refusal to adjust his first power-play unit, as the head coach opted to keep his hottest forward of the series, Alexis Lafreniere, on the bench, as his coldest player of the series, Missing Mika, continued to sink the final tally of a one-of-fifteen (6.67%) man-advantage squad into the deepest abyss imaginable.

— In their third consecutive loss, the ineffective power-play doomed the Rangers – as after all – this Game 6 final score, 2-1, was once again decided by one goal.

— No scoring from the defense whatsoever, as the Rangers, who scored only twelve goals in six games (a pathetic average of only two goals per game), didn’t get one goal out of any of their rearguards. Conversely, the Panthers, who scored sixteen goals in the series, got two from their defensemen, both goals scored by Gustav Forsling – and where those two goals weren’t meaningless either – as they gave Florida the edge – and the series victory.

— Star power – or lack thereof, as Florida’s big cats, Sam Bennett (4), Sam Reinhart (3), Matt Tkachuk (1) and Aleksandar Barkov (1), outscored the Rangers’ Fat Cats, Panarin (1), Kreider (1) and Trouba, Mika, and Adam Fox too, and where the latter three big-bucked Blueshirts finished with zero goals combined.

— Prioritizing European ballerinas over toughness, as with Rempe (23:55 in the series) once again on the bench and fellow rookie Will Cuylle minimized too (8:51 in Game 6, 66:53 in the series overall) – both “The Feckless Finn” (64:55 in the series) and “The Concussed Czech” (65:26 in the series) combined for zero points – which also marks their total sum of ZERO points throughout the six-games.


Worse than that?

These two first-round draft pick busts, two Euros who are also often injured too, each finished as a minus-two in Game 6 – again, which featured a 2-1 final score – and where this almighty plus/minus stat DOES tell the story.

I know that some of you hate this graphic, but it’s now true – “LATERALETTE” – a moniker that only speaks to this core’s inability to win the Stanley Cup – and no matter who the head coach is. I’m not even sure if Scotty Bowman could get these guys over the top at this point.

While in my eyes, the bulk of the blame falls on the core, the highest-paid players to be specific; at the same time, I thought that Peter Laviolette, who did a masterful job all-season, including leading the Blueshirts into their best regular season finish in franchise history, absolutely shit the bed in the biggest six-games of his Rangers’ tenure thus far – and to be clear too – a tenure that should continue into next season – and just as I have felt about previous head coaches prior to their ultimate demises, including John Tortorella, Alain Vigneault, David Quinn and Gerard Gallant.

At least I’m consistent – as I always look to focus on the players rather than on the coaches.

When I look at the 2023-24 Rangers, now with their season wrapped, then for the life of me, and as repeated about 4o067676798696786 times before – then I’ll never understand what the infatuation was with prioritizing Chytil’s return at the expense of the team – and especially after the Rangers officially stated that his health came before all else:

Photo Credit: NYR

Whenever watching Chytil in this series, who was obviously rushed back, was nowhere close to 100% and looked both timid and meek throughout; then much like the Rangers’ 1-15 power-play, he reminded me of this character from “American Horror Story“:

Chytil, who left the team after the first ten-games of the season because of a concussion, saw the Rangers have their best regular season finish in franchise history without him. Despite that, and come the second-round (following a first-round sweep no less), and Laviolette put the Czech above the team. I’ll never forgive him, nor forget about this bone-headed decision either. Photo Credit: F/X & AHS

When push comes to shove – then YES – Laviolette has the final say on his line-up.

No ifs, ands or buts about it.

But at the same time, Chytil was begging and pleading his way back to the team – a selfish act – because even his own head coach admitted this week that his Concussed Czech, perhaps a drooling vegetable in the future, was never at 100%.

And while granted, most players aren’t 100% at this stage of the game either (which is why I don’t want to hear about Fox’s injury or any other injury – as after all – Florida was battling through their own injuries – and just like how the two remaining teams from the West, the Oilers and the Stars, currently are too) – the idea of trying to get a returning-and-rusty player back in the line-up at this most pivotal point of the season was beyond idiotic.

But to be fair, and as noted earlier – it’s not just Chytil – and where his goose-egg playoffs story pales in comparison when talking about the lede headline losers – Panarin and Zibanejad.

I’ve had enough of Mopey Mika, and all of his sad faces too, which are now a staple at the end of these playoff runs – and where rarely – is he ever a factor when it matters the most.

Going into Saturday’s Game 6 and I posted the following musings and thoughts on my social media channels prior to puck drop:

There are so many individual consequences tonight if the Rangers fail to force a Game 7.

For Panarin, the greatest free agent signing in franchise history, all of his words will ring hollow and he will continue his Mike Gartner career arc.

For Kakko, it’s his last game as a Ranger.

For Mika, and while he has the NMC, it could be his last game as a Ranger too.

For Kreider, whose legacy is already cemented as an all time Blueshirt, he may be crying like Hank once did when Zucc was moved, should Mika be asked to waive his NMC this summer.

This could also be Trouba’s last game as a Ranger too – and with a modified NTC soon to kick in.

For CZAR IGOR, it’s knowing that he gave it his all but that his teammates failed him.

For Drury, his lackluster deadline will be a topic all off-season.

For Laviolette, it’s LATERALETTE, especially when you consider the fact that Gerard Gallant also won two games in an ECF in his first year – and with a much weaker team/roster than this one.

The only player who really comes out of this unscathed is Alexis Lafreniere, and to a lesser extent, Vincent Trocheck too – but either way – these playoffs featured the first-overall pick overcoming all of his struggles and hurdles from his first three seasons – the one good thing to come from this series aside from CZAR IGOR.

While yours truly has always been a DAY ONE fan of CZAR IGOR, and as fully detailed and explained many times before on this site (check the archives for everything) – but even I am not so sure about making #31 the highest-paid goalie in the league – and even if he surely deserves it. After all, we all know that outside of Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was aided by a Nikita Kucherov $9.5M LTIR missing cap hit (2021), then no other top-five highest-paid goalie in any of the league’s hard salary cap years have ever won the Stanley Cup.

Again, as we move ahead and look to the future prior to talking about the events of the season finale – then there needs to be a whole lot of change prior to the first puck drop of the 2024-25 campaign.

While I can’t see CZAR IGOR, who already turns 29-years-old this December (time flies – and the Rangers age you too), going anywhere; his future must be addressed, as his 2024-25 season is his final season under his present $5,666,667 annual contract – and where a big raise is coming his way – either in New York or <GULP> elsewhere.

In other words, a Blueshirts’ priority (and unlike Chytil – a true “top priority”) this summer is to extend CZAR IGOR – and should such a likely event take place – then the Rangers, under general manager Chris Drury, will feel the cap-crunch elsewhere.

It’s also why I feel that the 2023-24 Rangers, with CZAR IGOR under a team-friendly deal, and where I also thought they had the right approach by paying elite forwards top dollars like previous Cup winners during the salary-cap era, absolutely blew it this year.

While the 2023 first-round loss to the Devils was horrendous – extremely horrendous at that; I think that at the end of the day, and when we look back at this 2024 run five-to-ten years from now – and then similar to the 2015 Rangers – we’ll say that this 2024 run was the best shot that this core ever had – and where I also feel that it’s now time to make some big changes to this core to boot.

After all, and by now, we all know what the textbook definition of the word “insanity” is.

Before addressing the core, let’s first take a look at both the unrestricted and restricted free agents on the roster, players that will all need contracts for the 2024-25 season – and who should stay – and who should go too.

While maybe the second-overall bust goes on to have a lengthy career, akin to another young gun from Blueshirts’ past, Manny Maholtra – he just doesn’t have the makings of a varsity athlete in New York – and both his ego & self-entitlement have always been an issue. Keep in mind, during most of his interviews and Kakko is still demaning top-six and first power-play unit minutes. What has he done to ever deserve such things?

Kaapo Kakko, a restricted free agent who finished his fifth NHL season by making $2,100,000 annually, has never panned out with the Rangers – and despite about 967986767696766798 different tries when attempting to get him to reach his once perceived potential.

As you probably already know – then I’m hoping that we’ve seen the last of “The Feckless Finn” in Rangers’ blue.

But my own personal preferences aside – in a salary-cap league – then it makes no sense to give the future 24-year-old a raise – and a raise that he’ll be looking for this summer.

And while we’ll get into Drury’s disastrous deadline in just a bit – but yeah – the GM failed the franchise when he considered his predecessor’s draft pick as “untouchable.”

With wingers who will earn $925K a season down the pike in the likes of Brennan Othmann, Gabe Perreault and Adam Sykora – then just like other previous failed experiments/busts that overstayed their welcome in the Big Apple, such as Lias Andersson and Vitali Kravtsov – it’s now time for Kakko to exit stage right too.


Jack Roslovic, Drury’s final deadline acquisition, and who made $4,000,000 this season, is now an unrestricted free agent.

And if he’s back next season, then I’m turning in my fan card.

Furthermore, I can’t see how any of the league’s 32-teams will give him a raise this summer either.


Alexander Wennberg, Drury’s first deadline acquisition, and another unrestricted free agent too, made $4,500,000 this season – and if he’s back with the Rangers next season – and especially at this cap-hit – then there should be riots outside of M$G that rival the Israel v. Palestine protests that are presently taking place in NYC these days.


Blake Wheeler, one of Drury’s six-figure signings from this past summer, came cheap at only $800,000 – but where the long-time Jet will also turn 38-years-old at the end of August.

It was always “low risk, high reward” with Wheeler, and while he had his moments – he serves no purpose – that is – outside of at best depth/healthy-scratch purposes moving forward.

While I guess that you could always sign him on the cheap – I don’t see the point – and even more so when you consider what’s available on both the open market and in the pipeline.

Furthermore, Wheeler may be considering retirement anyway.


Ryan Lindgren has been a “TRUE BLUE” and “Ultimate Warrior” type for the Blueshirts ever since his arrival from Boston – but a tough decision will have to be made in regards to his future. Photo Credit: NYR

Ryan Lindgren, a restricted free agent, and who turns 27-years-old next season – or three-years shy of thirty-years-old, when most believe that physical defensemen have a drastic drop off in their play – is due for a raise after “only” earning $3,000,000 this season.

And if Drury doesn’t give his heart-and-soul player a raise – then, and without a shadow of a doubt – Lindgren will get it elsewhere.

I know that there is a bone of contention in Rangerstown, USA about Lindgren, as some will look at cheaper and less-mileage prospects in the system – and perhaps a fancy free agent too as options – but not me.

As we all know – black-and-white stats don’t define the black-and-blue Lindgren’s value to the team.

Therefore, and when you consider that not everyone can handle the pressure in New York too, Drury has to find a way to get a deal done with double-nickel.


Braden Schneider, and where if you can believe it, has now completed his three-year entry-level deal which annually paid him $925,000. And now, and at just the age of 22-years-old, the man once nicknamed as “BABY TROOBS” has not only outperformed his captain – but has also surpassed him on the depth chart too.

This is a no-brainer and the easiest decision of them all.


Erik Gustafsson, another one of Drury’s summer of six-figure signings, earned $825,000 this season – and where now – both the player and his agent must be kicking themselves for not looking for an extension following the first-half of the campaign.

At one point during this season, and mainly because of how well he filled in for Adam Fox – then it was Gustafsson, and not anybody else, that looked like the crown jewel off-season signing of not only the Rangers – but in all of the NHL.

But following a grind and stall as the season progressed, and a not-so-hot playoffs either, then it’s tough to imagine “The Gus Bus” receiving a high-paying deal as he would have recieved had he looked to negotiate in-season, and as other players, such as Jonny Brodzinski and Jonathan Quick, eventually and successfully did.

Should Gustafsson be willing to take another salary of less than seven-figures – then by all means – it’s worth bringing the 32-year-old back – as after all – if it doesn’t work out, then you could always punt him to Hartford without cap punishment.

But if #56 wants more zeroes on his paycheck – then it’s time to part ways.

VERDICT: Keep him if he’s cheap.

Chad Ruhwedel, one of the three players that Drury acquired at the deadline, earned $800,000 this season.

And real quick – can you tell me what number he wore in his one game played this season?

(It was #5 – a number that should’ve been retired long ago in honor of Bill Cook – and where the Rangers must address their wrongs and honor their past – even more so today – as after all – Blueshirt Cup winning legends don’t come around often.)

Ruhwedel never got a chance in New York – but it’s not like anyone was clamoring for his inclusion either.

VERDICT: Thanks for the “memory” Chad.

And this now brings us to the core.

Adam Fox, signed through 2029, isn’t going anywhere. But Jacob Trouba? Decisions must be made. Photo Credit: NYR

When you look at the Rangers’ core, then this much is obvious:

Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox, Chris Kreider, Alexis Lafreniere, CZAR IGOR, Vincent Trocheck, K’Andre Miller, and even Barclay Goodrow too, aren’t going anywhere.

The Rangers perhaps don’t even reach the playoffs without Panarin, Fox is a stud, Kreider is now a Blueshirts’ legend, Lafreniere is the future, CZAR IGOR is the bedrock, Trocheck deserves captain consideration, Miller continues to improve and Goodrow is just a playoff beast.

The two names omitted above?

Jacob Trouba and Mika Zibanejad.

From day one (blogs don’t lie), and I have never liked Trouba’s seven-year deal ($56M overall, $8M annually) that was first signed back on July 1st, 2019.

Compounding matters was that during Trouba’s first two seasons, and two other members of the right-side of the Rangers’ defense, Tony DeAngelo and Fox, were significantly better – and worse than that – for 75% less – combined!

While Trouba would later admit that his first two seasons in New York were an all-out failure – he still cashed in his $16M earned without hesitation.

And unlike Trouba – Fox and DeAngelo, both younger and way more productive, didn’t need a two-year “adjustment period” either – and as the soon-to-be captain said that he required.

After $16M smackers wasted, come the 2021-22 season, Trouba’s third as a Ranger – and he finally started to earn that huge contact – but let’s face it – not all of it – as he’s never been an $8M defenseman in this league – but he has been both a team-leader and effective.

Trouba, now the captain of the team, and a routine hit and blocked shot leader too, has completed five seasons with the Rangers.

As the thirty-year-old approaches his sixth (2024-25) and seventh (2025-2026) years of his deal – and now, and for the first time since signing his contract – his modified no-trade clause kicks in – and where the Rangers might be seeking a new captain (I like Trocheck for this), following Trouba’s submission of the fifteen teams that he’s not willing to be traded to.

Granted, moving Trouba will be tough – as again – he is well-liked and a team leader.

But hockey is a business – and with strict salary-cap restrictions too – and in no way and in now how – can the Rangers pay a third line d-man a hefty sum of eight-million bucks.

For four million bucks or less – and Trouba is worth it – and that may even be a stretch.

But if the mission remains “Stanley Cup or Bust” – and I’m getting ahead of myself – as I can’t even think of going through another long regular season – and heart-attack inducing playoffs again – then it’s time to explore a Trouba trade.

And of course – it’s going to be tough to find a partner that will be willing to assume all of Trouba’s salary – so perhaps the Rangers will have to retain some of it, with a draft-pick sweetener included, in order to make such a deal.

Hello Utah – the league’s newest (and relocated from Arizona) franchise that could use a star?

Hello Seattle – who could use a veteran captain?

But of course, these two far west locations may be on Trouba’s no-trade list – because as we all know – his wife, Dr. Kelly Trouba, is making her name in NYC – which is why Trouba, when leaving Winnipeg five years ago, only wanted to sign with the Rangers in the first place.

Furthermore, of the roster, he’s one of the few to make his home in Manhattan – and rather than in Westchester, Connecticut or anywhere else in the metro area.

VERDICT: While he’s had some success during his past three-years – at the very least – a trade must be explored. After all, and just like anything else – you have to weigh all of your options.


He’s gone.

And last, but certainly not least, this brings us to Stinka Zibanebad.

When I’ve ran this graphic about 927647836378647986 times over the years – then it tells me that Zibanejad, and for all of his success, has had more misses than hits – and especially when it matters most – the playoffs.

Personally – I just can’t watch Zibanejad anymore – so yeah – what I’m saying next does have some bias behind it – but at the same time – I’d be saying all of this regardless.

Between all of Mika’s hollow words, his obsession with hugging and those big puppy dog “I’m sorry I just shit on your floor again” eyes – I’ve had enough.

He’s just not a playoff player.

End of story.

When it matters most, Mika wilts.

And his 2023-24 season was the absolute worst of his Rangers’ career – and where it should also be mentioned that the Swedish-Iranian dee-jay is now 31-years-old – meaning that his peak years are behind him.

Moving Mika will be difficult – the most difficult task when repairing the Rangers.

For starters, the center signed an eight-year deal worth $68,000,000 overall in October of 2021, meaning that he just finished his third-year of his no-movement-clause contract – and with five more years at $8.5M annually ahead.

But unlike Trouba, should Mika become available – which means that he’d have to waive his NMC too (and we know that’s not impossible – just ask former Ranger Ryan McDonagh about this – who has now done this twice during the past three-years) – then Drury will receive a lot of attention and suitors for the services of #93 – especially in markets that need a big name to drum up business.

It should also be noted, and what were the Rangers thinking, that Mika’s modified no-trade clause only kicks in during the last year of his deal, the 2029-30 season (and yes – it feels weird to be talking about the year 2030) – when come that day – he’ll be asked to submit a 21-team no-trade list.

For a Rangers’ squad that’s been looking for a right-winger du jour for the BFF line for some time now, and really ever since the Pavel Buchnevich for Sammy Blais trade (keep in mind – Blais wasn’t suppose to fill this role – it was supposed to be the younger Kravtsov who then immediately flamed out from day one) – then perhaps it’s finally time to admit the inevitable – it’s the center – and not the 986876697 right-wingers that the Rangers have used with this line during the past three years – that’s the problem.

After all, why should a right-winger, usually making $2M or less, need to get the highest-paid center on the team going?

Shouldn’t it be Mika’s job to get his teammates going?

I guess $8.5M doesn’t get you what it used to!

It will take a hard stance from Drury in order to get Mika to waive his NMC – but again – if this team is still is adopting the “CUP OR BUST” mentality – then Mika can’t be here anymore.

He’s just not a playoff player – and even if he rebounds from his dreadful 2023-24 season in 2024-25 (after all – he couldn’t be any worse) – then we’re right back to talking about another failed playoff run at this point next year.

As far as a potential trade, then I think that a deal with Toronto, for right-winger Mitch Marner, the 27-year-old on the last year of a deal that pays him $10,903,000 annually, makes the most sense – and assuming that a sign-and-trade for the Leaf’s services can be done too – as you just can’t trade Mika for only one year of Marner (or anyone else for that matter) in return.

Both Mika and Mitch have overstayed their welcomes in their respective homes – and where perhaps a relocation will do both of them good – and even at the risk of Kreider ugly-crying his way through this news – and as his former teammate, Henrik Lundqvist, once did when the Blueshirts dealt Mats Zuccarello away to Dallas – and what a terrible and disgusting trade that was.

I don’t know if Drury is on the hot seat or not (my gut says no – but only because James Dolan is currently involved with a sexual assault lawsuit, which to me, then I’m assuming that his focus is not on his sports teams right now – plus it was Dolan who orchestrated the previous regime’s exit – while also hand-picking Drury to lead the team in both a general manager and team president role), but no GM job lasts forever either – that is – unless you’re Senile Glen Sather – which also speaks to Dolan’s loyalty somewhat as well.

The one, and the biggest, drawback of trading Zibanejad is finding a center to replace him.

At this stage of the game and Vincent Trocheck is the team’s first line center.

After that, the depth severely weakens and completely drops off – especially with this team’s obsession with Chytil – a center who can’t win a faceoff and who rarely scores too.

In Hartford, you have centers such as Bryce McConnell-Barker and the recently signed Dylan Roobroeck. However, both of these players are only nineteen-years-old – thus they aren’t ready yet.

Karl Henriksson, another Swede in the middle, has seemingly been in the Rangers’ system forever, but even now at the age of 23-years-old – he’s not a real option either.

As far as free agent options go, Steven Stamkos is available – and while presently upset about not receiving a new deal from Tampa – it does seem likely that the captain of the Bolts remains put in the Bay.

Then again, the Rangers once traded for the captain that Stamkos succeeded – you know – Martin St. Louis.

It should be noted that Stamkos, while 34-years-old, did score 40 goals and 81 points in 79 games this season. Zibanebad finished with 26 goals and 72 points in 81 games played – and with a whole lot of “A-Rod” goals to his ledger too.

Unlike Mika – Stamkos is a proven playoff performer.

Don’t believe me?

Then just ask another center, Barclay Goodrow, who won two Stanley Cups with Stammer Time in Tampa – and who has then watched Zibanejad make excuse-after-excuse ever since coming to New York in 2021.

Elias Lindholm, who the Blueshirts expressed interest in earlier this season, and prior to his eventual trade to Vancouver, is also an unrestricted free agent – and who will be looking for a bump up from his $4,850,000 earned in 2023-24.

Chandler Stephenson, a step below these two, may be expendable in Vegas, as the Knights are against the cap and this center just finished making $2,750,000.

But at the end of the day, and as they say, “if there’s a will, then there’s a way” – and Drury – and if it’s his decision – can move Mika – and despite his NMC.

As previous players to have waived their NMCs have all said – no one wants to stay in a place where they are no longer wanted.

And a desire to see Mika pull another no show in the playoffs again is not there either.

And ugh, and finally, let’s talk about Game 6 – and as quickly as possible too.

I ran this 25-word disclaimer 82-times during the regular season – which is why you’re reading this “JUDGEMENT DAY” blog today. End of the day – they busted – and not many are off of the hook for this either.

In my eyes, this series, and as the tone of my blogs would you lead to believe, was lost following Zibanejad’s overtime turnover in Game 4.

But of course, without CZAR IGOR, who had to deal with Florida in his zone for 90% of the series – then such an overtime, and when also including the pair of overtime Game 2 and Game 3 wins, never transpires either.

Let’s face it – without #31 in net – then it’s very likely that the Rangers would have been swept.

And perhaps they should’ve been.

CZAR IGOR just kept the dream alive – and prolonged the inevitable too – as it was clear as day that every big bucked Blueshirt wasn’t going to be able to take over.

I know what the common consensus is – Florida was just better.

And while that may be true – were they really – or did the Ranger stars just do what they always do when it matters most – go MIA?

When I look at this series as a whole, then I think that Florida was the equivalent of Carolina on steroids – and where because the Panthers, and unlike the Hurricanes, actually have a goalie – then that was truly the difference between a series win and a series loss.

And for as amazing as CZAR IGOR was – it’s not like Sergei Bobrovsky was out-played by him either.

Bob just had a lesser workload – and you can’t fault him for that – but you can blame the Rangers’ FAT CATS for that fact – including their 1-15 power-play that rarely forced Bobrovsky into perilous situations.

Furthermore, when Bobrovsky needed to make a save – and just like CZAR IGOR – then that’s what he did.

And when you were watching the sad and somber end-of-the-series handshake line – were you really mad at Florida – or were you just jealous of them?

Me, I was in the latter – as they did everything that I thought that the Rangers would do – and grew stronger in each game as it progressed – and game-by-game too.

The Blueshirts?

This core just did what they’ve always done – wilt and then fold – and where come break-up day – it will be same old shit, “We’ll have to be better next year,” “We’ll learn from this,” “It’s tough now but this loss will give us motivation,” and all of the other regular “blah blah blah” BS that’s now long tired and old.

And as noted above – if drastic roster changes don’t take place, then what’s the point of even playing next season?

To think that anything is guaranteed is ridiculous – and really, and when you also consider that every other team in the division will improve next year – then to think that the Rangers will waltz right back into another ECF is the notion of a fool.

That’s why this loss, and as stated above, reminds me of 2015.

This core, in its present state, has peaked – and this was a blown opportunity – their biggest “blow job” yet.

Rather than “Finishing Their Story,” they are finished – and this fact will give fans nightmares all summer, as not only will you be running all of the “what if?” machinations late night in your sleepless head – but the three familiar words of “SAME OLD RANGERS” will never leave you either.


It’s my opinion that Laviolette was out-coached by his former predecessor and successor in Carolina, now in Florida, Paul Maurice. What a poor time to have your worst performance of the season. UGH!

I thought that Game 6 was lost the second when the line-up information became available – and where the inclusion of Kakko, after seeing this clip from Game 5, only increased such feelings:

Prior to Laviolette announcing his line-up right before puck drop – and here’s what a beer-bellied blogger would have done – and as I posted on Tweeter 24-hours before Game 6 began:

As far as any pregame stories leading into Game 6 – and I found it funny that copy-and-paste Larry Brooks, who really doesn’t have much of a bark or bite anymore (he was caressing the Rangers after their loss – and making excuses for them too), pretty much took word-for-word what I’ve been saying ever since January – and again in my Game 5 review (https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/53024/ ) too:

Of course, Brooks, and who unlike me, has open access to every player and the head coach too, has never asked Laviolette about any of this.

Sadly, this is on brand for Brooks these days – and a Hall of Fame scribe who never let John Tortorella off of the hook in this manner.

Furthermore, do you think Brooks is going to challenge Trouba, Mika, Panarin, et al. in the same fashion that he once challenged Dan Boyle?

I didn’t think so either.

Like George Washington – I must not tell a lie: I dry-heaved many times over when it was revealed that Alex Wennberg was Laviolette’s solution for the BFF line. Photo Credit: NYR

Here’s what I said in real-time and immediately after finding out what Laviolette had planned:

The “new look” Blueshirt lines?

It took them 58:20 to score their first goal – and after Florida had already scored two.

Adding to the pain?

Laviolette using Chytil at center – and where the worst center at the dots last season (in all of the league – not just for the Rangers), finished with a game-low 25% “success rate.”

Absolutely maddening – and puzzling too.

Here was Laviolette’s line-up for the fifteenth playoff game of the postseason – and the 97th & final overall game of 2023-24:

FIRST LINE: Panarin/Trocheck/Lafreniere

SECOND LINE: Kreider/Zibanejad/Wennberg

THIRD LINE: Goodrow/Chytil/Kakko

FOURTH LINE: Cuylle/Brodzinski/Roslovic

FIRST PAIR: Lindgren/Fox

SECOND PAIR: Miller/Schneider

THIRD PAIR: Gustafsson/Trouba


BACK-UP: Quick

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

Injured: Vesey

Healthy Scratches: Rempe and Wheeler

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:





24 1 23 .958 22 1 0 0 0 60:00 0


34 2 32 .941 29 3 0 0 0 57:44 0

Never let it be forgotten that Rangers’ GM Chris Drury passed over right-wingers Patrick Kane (a free agent signing – and one that would’ve not done anything to the cap with Chytil on LTIR), Frank Vatrano (Drury turned down Ducks’ boss Pat Verbeek), Anthony Duclair, Vladimir Tarasenko (twice) and Jake Guentzel in order to keep the “UNTOUCHABLE” (and no-scoring too), Kaapo Kakko for his “CUP OR BUST” team. In a series where three of the Ranger losses were decided by one goal, then, and as stated here about 97867878689678678678 times, and to the point of nauseating redundancy too – a scoring top-six right-winger was required over a player that can’t even eat gluten without having a meltdown. And hell, and like peanut allergies of today too –  then does anyone remember gluten allergies ever being a thing growing up? Furthermore, and like previous busts such as Andersson and Kravtsov before Kakko – the Rangers will now receive less in return should they deal the now restricted free agent. And for what? Solely because of his draft status – and his fun-to-say name too? UGH! UGH! UGH!

And now my friends, the final GAME REVIEW of the 2023-24 season – and I’ll try to keep it as short as possible, as I know that I’ve already taken up too much of your time.


It wasn’t all bad – it truly wasn’t – as the Rangers got off to a hot start; but sadly, and as we’ve seen throughout this series – whenever they had any sign of offensive life – then they could never finish the job and put one past Bobrovsky.

After a good start from GAG LINE 2.0, Zibanejad, who finished the playoffs on a twelve-game goal drought, had a breakaway attempt broken up by Forsling.

Come the fourth line’s first shift, and they almost got one by, but a Gustafsson shot from the point, that was tipped by Brodzinski, was denied.

So right away – and the “do-or-die” Rangers had two primo chances – and failed on both.

The officiating, god-awful all-series, but not an excuse either, reared in their ugly heads again, and just 3:56 in, when Trocheck was called for a soft hooking call against Aaron Ekblad.

And of course, this penalty was called while the Rangers were attacking.

CZAR IGOR made three monstrous saves while on the penalty kill – and to the officials’ credit – the only short-handed saves that he’d need to make, as this was the first-and-final Florida power-play of the game.

Once returned to even-strength and poor Goodrow, who was saddled with two losers on his line – and where I just had to laugh and groan when watching Kakko and Chytil attempt to beat Bobrovsky.

Talk about men vs boys.

CZAR IGOR, who was seen crying after this game (can you blame him?) then stopped a Florida 2 x 1 odd-man rush – and as afforded by both Missing Mika and K’Andre Miller.

At the 11:30 mark, and in what was an evenly-matched game at the time, the Rangers received their first-and-final power-play of the contest, as Kyle Okposo interfered with Brodzinski.

But during the brief empty net attack (before Florida could touch up) – and Jackass Roslovic missed a wide-open net – and one that looked as big as a soccer net.

Another “what if” question of many.

Despite Roslovic’s garbage – and the Rangers did have a power-play – and a chance to go ahead as a result too – and where it should be noted that Laviolette decided to staple his best forward in this series, Lafreniere, on the bench while the PP1 did whatever they did.

This power-play, and in one word, was BRUTAL.

1-15 in the series – what a joke.

Once returned to even-strength and Chytil was losing every faceoff imaginable while Kakko was coughing up pucks left-and-right – so the usual fare from these two tap-dancing ballerinas.

What was noticeable and absolutely frustrating was the Rangers’ hellbent mindset of trying to make soft east-to-west passes in the neutral zone.

I don’t think that they connected on any of them – as Florida sniffed out these plentiful of pussy passes with ease – which then gave CZAR IGOR headaches in the Rangers’ end.

But CZAR IGOR’s headaches, now migraines, weren’t cured.

With just 48.5 seconds to go, and following another third-line o-zone turnover, and Trouba just watched as Sam Bennett ripped a one-timer, glove high, past CZAR IGOR.

1-0, bad guys.

And pretty much game, set, match here too – and as most late and demoralizing goals allowed are.

1-0, bad guys, through twenty-minutes – and where not even the copious amounts of booze consumed at my favorite bar could help soothe the pain.

Here’s what I said at the time:

As explained in the past, and even as most recently on Thursday – I am not in the camp of “Bash Chris Kreider.” While he had a tough series too – at least he scored a meaningful goal in this ECF – and where without his Game 6 hat trick against the Canes – then I’m not so sure if the Rangers would have even had the opportunity to continue to play for the Stanley Cup. Photo Credit: NYR


I really wanted to believe.

I really did.

After all, for a team whose bread-and-butter has been their resiliency and resolve via their league-leading 34 comebacks – then I thought that comeback number 35 was on tap.

Man, I really wanted this – and despite my “elite status” (that’s a tongue-in-cheek joke) as a Rangers’ historian – I let my heart get the best of my brain – as even going into this series, and then later, when up 2-1 – I just envisioned the parade, the legacies made, the overwhelming feeling of never having to hear about 1994 ever again in a negative manner, and so forth.

And now, it’s back to square one.

And “Same Old Rangers” too.

This period was like many others from this series – a strong shift from the GAG LINE 2.0 to start – but nothing in Bobrovsky’s net.

We also saw Trouba and Gustafsson continue their madness, which just put CZAR IGOR under siege – and for all of Lavy’s line-up changes – also made you wonder why Zac Jones wasn’t included in them.

This was also a back-and-forth period, with not much action either.

Outside of a referee taking a puck to the nuts in the third period, which must’ve felt the exact same way as I felt after this game – then there wasn’t much doing from this point on.

Put it this way: Come the halfway mark of the game/period and Ryan Lindgren led the Rangers in SOG (3). No other Ranger had more than one shot on goal at the time either.

The biggest play for the Blueshirts in these middle twenty-minutes is when CZAR IGOR bailed out Miller (again) – and when he denied Matt Tkachuk on a breakaway with his extended left pad.

For what it’s worth, the Rangers had two GOOD LOOKS with under ninety-seconds remaining – but Bob just brushed off both of them.

We remained at 1-0 when entering the final period of the season.

Here’s what I said at the time:

I filed a missing report on these two – and I’ll let you know if they are ever found.


Just 66-seconds in, and CZAR IGOR, with a team that should’ve come out guns blazing, had to make two more big saves, including a wrap-around denial on Rodrigues.

And again – it was the goalie – and not the offense – that continued this Cup chasing charade and held hope.

But CZAR IGOR can’t do it all – and if you can’t score, then you can’t win either.

With 10:52 to go, that’s all she wrote, and how ironic and poetic too, as following horrible turnovers from Kraapo and the future “top priority” vegetable – Tarasenko – who could’ve been retained in the off-season and returned in-season (from Ottawa) too – scored – following another Florida one-timer.

2-0, bad guys.

Season over.

And Laviolette really thought that Chytil and Kakko would make a difference.

Then again, I guess they did – but in favor of Florida:

I beg of Drury – no more Euro ballerinas next season! Photo Credit: ESPN.com

Come 1:40 remaining in what was now a signed-sealed-and-delivered verdict, it was comical when Panarin, with CZAR IGOR on the bench, scored.

2-1, bad guys.

And if the Rangers ever had another scoring opportunity once returning CZAR IGOR back to the bench for one last 6 x 5 attack – then I don’t remember it.

If you’re looking for a silver lining about the final seconds of the season, then I guess it’s the fact that the Rangers didn’t hit iron here – as that would’ve been another rotten cherry on top – and another “what if?” too.

2-1, bad guys, your final.

Season over.

And nothing but excuses from everyone afterwards too.

I can’t even muster up the energy to even recap what these losers said – but trust me – it was the same old shit that we hear every year.

So much for this.

As everyone keeps talking about 1994 – and where this team has now failed to compare to them – I still have that ESPN doc/screener that I’m supposed to review by Tuesday.

I’ll see if I can get to it – but right now – watching memories of 1994 is painful after experiencing this dreck.

I haven’t really talked much about Rempe today – but I do want to add here, that in the Rangers’ biggest game of the season – and Laviolette, who had this gift-horse handed to him – never used it – and in the way that he did during the first six games of this playoff run.

But praise the hockey gods that getting Chytil back into the line-up took precedent above everything else – including the quest for the Cup.

And if you want to compare Gallant vs Laviolette (Rangers’ tenure only) – then both of them went 2-4 in the ECF during their first season as head coach.

But it was Laviolette that had the more experienced team – and a deeper squad too.

After all, it’s not like Lavy ever had to decide amongst the likes of Dryden Hunt, Kevin Rooney, Justin Braun and Patrik Nemeth.

Furthermore, while Lavy did lose Vesey in this series – he never lost a player like Gallant did two-years ago, when Ryan Strome could no longer go.

And while this is our grapes – but it’s true too – for the fifth year in a row, and a team from the no income state tax Florida will represent the East in the Stanley Cup Final.

Bettman refuses to address this issue – and one that I’ve explained many times over on this site before.

If there’s one thing that’s going to haunt me all summer (among many), then it’s how the Rangers finished in goal scoring:

Barclay Goodrow had more goals than Panarin and Zibanejad. Nothing against Goodrow, while that’s good for him, that’s not good for the Rangers. Photo Credit: NYR

Only a select few, such as CZAR IGOR, Lafreniere, Trocheck and Goodrow, can hold their heads high right now.

Everyone else – they’ll be kicking themselves for the rest of their careers over this series – and just like how the fans are too.

One last kick?

The following news which Kevin Weekes broke after the game:

Following Weekes’ initial report, and it’s now being reported that Allaire has every intention about lessening his duties – while inching closer-and-closer to retirement too.

When it rains it pours – and I don’t think that I have to spell out to you how important Allaire has been for the Rangers during the past twenty-years.

This team may make me consider using fentanyl too. UGH!

That’s a wrap on a season that will forever be remembered as an epic failure – and just like many seasons prior to this one.

Despite all of the franchise records, the best regular season in history, career-highs, and so on and so forth – none of that matters.

As Mark Messier made famous, “you get paid for your regular season work, but you make your legacy in the playoffs.”

Moving forward on this site, and while I do have to get to that 1994 doc first – maybe I’ll recap whatever is said at break-up day.

But does it really matter, as all it will be is “wah wah wah.”

I also can’t lie to you – while my fandom remains in-tact – doing this site any longer is being tested.

What’s the point?

As noted all season – I didn’t care about the regular season at all – I just wanted to get to the playoffs and assess them when there – and as my daily disclaimer made clear.


I care even less about the 2024-25 regular season – and if Drury doesn’t go balls-to-the-wall when reconstructing – then we’ll be right back to, “There’s Always Next Year! No Quit and No Cups in NY!”

I need a break – and where this series loss will eat at me all summer too.

With the Rangers done and the beach season now here, now is a perfect time for you to catch-up on your summer reading, which brings us to…

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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4 thoughts on “NYR/FLA ECF G6 Review & Season Post-Mortem: “The Team of Destiny” Meets Their Fatal Fate; Only CZAR IGOR Plays Great, Verbal Violence Regarding “All Talk In NY;” Finger-Pointing at Every Scapegoat, The 2023-24 Obituary, Quick Off-Season Thoughts; Who Stays (CZAR IGOR, Lindgren & Schneider) & Who Has To Go (Kakko, Mika & Trouba), Lavy’s Curious Coaching Calls & Drury’s Dubious Deadline Can’t Be Ignored; The Never-Ending BFF Line RW Du Jour, The Thought of Doing This All Over Again, Allaire & More

  1. Think your Euro thing is misplaced; no matter;

    Panarin had 4 GWGs in the 1st 2 rounds, and then had Selke winner Barkov all over him for 6 games. Maurice has that homespun media nonsense down pat, but that was their plan and it worked. He did the same thing to Pasta and Kucherov. And pretty much also tells you they had no fear at all of mopey Mika. Would like to think with a more bruising 3rd and 4th lines occupying the opposition, there would be more open ice for #10 next season. He made changes, but again he’s facing the best defender. And when their best defender is on your best offensive scorer, should be some open ice for others. That did not happen.

    Mika has to be gone; missed open nets, insistence on making stupid passes at the worst time, the PP 1 timer EVERYBODY has seen and knows is coming. There’s talent , but it’s not ever gonna work when it matters.

    Trouba is slow and out of position all the time. Takes dumb penalties, and makes more blind weak clearing passes than any D I’ve ever seen. Miller has picked up a lot of bad habits playing with him. That it would be suggested by many that benching your unhurt captain in a conference finals might be a good move, tells you all you need to know.

    Cap and NMCs complicate all of this.

    Hope somebody is dumb enough to sign Kakko. Appears he thinks the game of hockey doesn’t involve scoring goals. Cycling is only any good if a player goes to the net looking for a greasy goal. If not, it amounts to jerking off.

    1. I know some include Russia with the Euros but I don’t – I keep the Scandanavians separate.

      Look at Panarin’s stats from the second-round on – then in the biggest games of his career – he was pretty much a non-factor.

      Lafreniere and Trocheck were able to succeed tho…

  2. Agree with Brian on Panarin. It was evident that the Panthers game plan was not to let Panarin beat them. The guy had no time, no space. Common practice and it happens all the time in the playoffs. Look no further than Tortorella’s Rangers shutting down an in his prime Crosby in the playoffs. Remember one series vs Washington where (in his prime) Ovechkin scored a highlight reel goal in game 1 and didn’t score again until game 7 when he made a Messier prediction but fell short to Henrik and Co. Keying on Panarin opened up a little more space for his linemates as Trocheck and Lafreniere had a solid series. And, by the way, no matter what happens in the future with Laviolette I’ll always be grateful for him having the guts (vision?) to put Laf on top line RW and sticking with him. He’ll get his PP time next year but is the ECF really the time to tinker with the league’s #3 PP? Maybe, but that’s not a seamless slam dunk decision IMO. Laf’s a lefty; Mika shoots right. Fox’s game is centered on his skating ability and foot speed which was clearly compromised. Not an excuse, just reality and not Laviolette or Drury’s fault. Let’s face it, Trouba’s going nowhere. Too big a cap hit to trade or buy out. Was a beast early in the year; wore down as the season went on. You don’t lead the league in blocked shots and expect to be heathy and fresh in the playoffs. Rangers probably need to add another big defenseman and adjust Trouba’s minutes. And if this core doesn’t have what it takes to win a cup (not being sarcastic here; it may be true) then I’m happy as hell that Drury didn’t empty the cupboards at the deadline.

    1. I think when we look back, this will be considered the peak of this core. Just tough to keep on reaching all of these ECFs – and it’s not like they are Tampa and Florida – who have the benefit of no state income taxes.

      I get shutting down Panarin at 5 x 5 – but that doesn’t explain the 1-15 PP – and that’s what largely doomed them in all of these one-game losses.

      I wouldn’t buyout Trouba, but I would trade him – just can’t pay a 3RD $8M – and the sad thing is, should that happen, then they will be looking for a d-man just like him for the playoffs.

      The pain.

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