What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BLUECOLLARBLUESHIRTS.com. First a quick update on the site. As I said at the beginning of the season, due to my work schedule being insane and working a lot more than I was at this time last season, I won’t be able to recap every game like last year. If I have a normal 8 hour day at work, I’ll get the game recap up. When my schedule is bat shit insane (65+ hour work weeks), I will try to do these blogs, recapping the week, on a Monday. I would also like to give a quick plug for our FB page, which I’ve sorely been forgetting to plug. You can visit it here: BlueCollarBlueShirts.com Facebook Group
Luckily, this blog is just a hobby for me, so I’m not really concerned about site traffic. Thank you though for the 8000 unique hits we did in October. It is cool to see people read these manifestos, even if they scroll quick or read it on the toilet! Half the time that’s where I’m writing from anyway, like right now after this Giants game. I could write 38437347473737437 pages about the Giants right now, but for my and your sanity, it’s better off if I leave that topic alone. Right now I’m shaking with rage, worse than Michael J. Fox. AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
The lack of the New York Giants defense aside, how about our New York Rangers? When I last left you, the Rangers disposed of the Sharks 4-0. Here are the games I’ve missed since that blog:
10/22: Rangers 4 – Coyotes 1
10/24 Flyers 3 – Rangers 2 (Shootout loss)
10/25 Rangers 4 – Flames 1
10/30 Rangers 3 – Leafs 1
Fortunately for me, I was able to attend the games against the Leafs & Coyotes. I’m not going to give you in-depth recaps on all the games, since I’m late to the dance, but will talk about the team thus far this season.
I got tons of great information and ideas for Ranger fans looking to attend games too, so let’s officially get this show on the road.
While this blog, BLUECOLLARBLUESHIRTS.com, is for the working man blue collar fan, I have to admit, I’ve been sitting extremely bougias these last few games. Don’t worry, once tickets get expensive and the playoffs are up and running, I will still be in the 200’s/400’s. This will never be BOUGIASBLUECOLLARBLUESHIRTS, but hey, it’s nice to see how the other half lives too!
From the emails and tweets I’ve gotten, it seems people are interested in securing primo seats on the cheap. Let me explain my tricks. It may make it tougher for me to attend games with more competition out there, but I’m always one step ahead!
I’ve been to 6 games already this season. Just like most of you, I’m not made of money. I am fortunate enough to have a couple bucks behind me, but I have been able to sit in MSG suite, Delta Club and rinkside seats this season. I haven’t paid more than $130 for any of those tickets.
Here’s the trick: you just gotta price gauge the market and know what’s going on in the area. For example, the Mets in the playoffs has done wonders for Ranger tickets on the secondary market. I only use Stubhub, because they 100% protect and guarantee their tickets. I don’t know what the other companies do, but whenever I’ve had an issue with Stubhub, they’ve made it right by me.
I work in the city, 8 blocks away from MSG. I know people sometimes like to have tix in hand, but for me, that doesn’t matter. I usually buy tickets 1-2 hours before game time, when people are desperate to dump their tickets. You can usually find good deals. Of course, you need to have common sense. This won’t work against the Islanders. This won’t work on a Saturday night. However, on a Tuesday vs the Coyotes? MSG suite tix for $100. It’s also good when the local sports teams are in important games, because with the Rangers season still in its infancy, people tend to blow off the Rangers for a Mets playoff game or a Jets/Giants Monday night game.
Basically, if you want really good seats, practice what Axl Rose said, “Patience”!
I have to share this story. On Friday against the Leafs, I was able to accomplish something on my bucket list, and sit rinkside at MSG for a regular season game. How did I do this? If you weren’t following me on twitter, @NYCTHEMIC and don’t know already, let me share.
With the Mets hosting the World Series on Friday night, I knew I could get good tickets for cheap. My buddy, the world famous Bison Bravado, and I decided to buy tickets last second. We wound up getting seats in Section 2, Row 5, behind the net for $100. We were pumped to sit that close for cheap.
When we got to the Garden, it turns out our tickets scanned as frauds. After talking to someone in the MSG box office, we found out some scammer sold a bunch of fake tickets on Ticketmaster and Stubhub and the tickets we had were bogus.
Immediately I called Stubhub. Not only did Stubhub give me a $25 coupon for next time, they said to make up for this, they would give us tickets right on the glass, with no extra charge. We sat in tickets, with a face value of $1090 for only $100! I felt like Cinderella!
I know Stubhub sometimes has disgusting fees, but their customer service is out of this world. My friend had a similar problem with bullshit tickets. I’ve had an issue about tickets before. Every time, Stubhub goes above and beyond to fix the problem. I don’t know about other people’s interactions, but I use Stubhub so much, I guess they know I’m not BSing them if I have an issue.
In reality, the Mets being in the World Series helped our cause. The seats Stubhub gave us were unsold and it was 30 minutes before game time. It pays to wait until the last second!
I guess it’s time to actually talk about the product on ice now!
As we head into the second month of the hockey season, the Rangers & Capitals lead the Metropolitan division with 16 points a piece. However, the Caps are 8-2 in 10 games played versus the Rangers 7-2-2 record in 11 games played. The Rangers host the Caps on Tuesday to temporarily decide first place in the division.
I’ve said this in other blogs, but it’s worth mentioning again. After the last few years the Rangers have had, it really doesn’t matter where the Rangers finish in the regular season. All that matters is that they finish with a playoff spot.
Mats Zuccarello leads the team in goals and points, with 7 goals and 2 assists. Oscar Lindberg is the second highest scorer, with 5 goals. Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan each have 3 goals, tying them for the third on the team in goal scoring.
What more can be said about Zuccarello? Of course, the pessimist in me is thinking “What if?” As in what if Zuccarello wasn’t injured in the playoffs last year? Would Zuccarello put the Rangers in the Cup for the second straight year? Would’ve the Rangers beat the Blackhawks for the Cup?
It’s amazing how Zuccarello came back from a serious injury, at one time rumored to be career ending. Some rumors even had him in a vegetable state. However, 5 months removed from the injury, you would’ve never known Zucc was hurt. You would also think that he was the highest paid skater on the team, at $7.8 million a year and not Rick Nash.
Zucc, arguably the biggest fan favorite on the team or perhaps just behind Henrik Lundqvist, has been worth every penny of his $4.5 million a year contract. Yes, you have to talk about contracts when you talk hockey, because so many roster decisions are made because of it. I’ve been a huge advocate of Zuccarello from day one, but of course, I’m known to most of you as the Talbot guy. Heaven forbid someone call out Lundqvist for being overpaid! However, as much as I wanted Talbot to get a real shot, I wanted Zuccarrello on this team. Just check out the blogs from last season during the trade deadline!
It really is so funny how contracts work out. If you go back through these blogs, everything I’ve said has come to fruition. When Anthony Duclair scored his hat trick two weeks ago, everyone was raving about him when the Coyotes visited MSG. Lundqvist made a huge highlight reel save on the Duke and it was back page news. The fact that Lundqvist stoned a rookie was making headlines. I was always a huge Duclair guy and watched his games with the Remparts. I hated and still hate the Yandle trade. However, why did that deal go down? Because the Rangers decided to go with Dan Boyle over Anton Stralman, another deal I hated at the time and hated now.
Quick recap. After the Rangers lost the Cup Finals to the Kings, the Rangers had a decision about Anton Stralman. This is why I always go insane about Lundqvist’s contract and you already know why, so I’ll save you the spiel.
Anyway, the Rangers decide to let Stralman go with no contract offered. Stralman (27 at the time) signs with Tampa. Ironically, Tampa beats the Rangers in the ECF last season. The Rangers decided they needed a powerplay quarterback (They’ve needed that since 1994) and signed Dan Boyle (38 at the time). Dan Boyle is in the second year of a contract that pays him $4.5 million annually. The same money Stralman gets in Tampa. So the Rangers got 11 years older for the same money.
Not that Stralman was an offensive powerhouse or anything, but that wasn’t his role anyway. Boyle was such a liability last season, as he is this season, on defense. Constant turnovers. Snow angels. Getting beat to the puck constantly. Boyle wasn’t producing on the PP, which was the reason the Rangers signed him anyway. So what happens? The Rangers decide they need a scoring defenseman, something they haven’t had since Brian Leetch. The Rangers then decide to ship Anthony Duclair (now a first line winger, with 5 goals this season, which would tie him for second on the Rangers) and a first round pick for Keith Yandle. Yes I’m ignoring John Moore and Chris Summers, but essentially, the core of the deal was Duke and the pick for Yandle. As part of the deal, the Coyotes took half of Yandle’s cap money to keep the Rangers under the cap. See, this is why all these contracts matter, because cap money is even included in trades.
Of course, as I’ve said a zillion times, maybe the NHL should raise the cap. After all, they brag about how much money they are making. If that is the case, then raise the cap. If teams don’t want to spend to win, then fuck them. There are other markets open that would, like Quebec, Toronto, Vegas and Seattle.
So anyway, because Boyle didn’t deliver, the Rangers let a big part of their future go. However, this isn’t something you read in the papers because Lindberg has played well. Kevin Hayes, acquired last year because the Hawks couldn’t afford to keep him, was an NHL ready rookie. Sure he’s developing still, but he was ready to be a top 9 forward.
It’s funny how things work out. At the end of the day, if the Rangers won a Cup in the last two season, no one would be complaining. The fact is, they haven’t, as evident by this quote from Rangers alternate captain and one of the longest tenured members of the club, Dan Girardi:
“We’ve got a good group of guys here that knows how to win — well, maybe not win it all, but knows how to win games … we know what it takes.”
Girardi said this after the Calgary game last Sunday. Like us fans, it bothers the guys that have been around, like Hank, like Staal, like McDonagh, etc, that they’ve made these deep runs but haven’t won the Cup. This is a team that has made three out of the last four Eastern Conference Finals. They have one Cup appearance to show for it, and it wasn’t pretty.
To win a Cup, you need to be real good and have some luck a long the way. The Rangers have had bad luck in recent playoff runs. While I love attending Ranger games during the season, it really means nothing. All that matters is that this team is ready for the playoffs in April and the team is healthy for the run. This team isn’t a young team, that would be happy just to make the playoffs like the Oilers or Coyotes or Flames. This isn’t a team that is going through a major rebuild like the Devils, Avalanche or Sabres. This isn’t a team that is on the bubble from becoming a perennial playoff contender like the Islanders or Lightning. This is a team that should’ve won a Cup in the last four seasons. This season is just a warm-up act. These Rangers are a seasoned core. However, they need to win a Cup before the foundation erodes away. This team knows there isn’t much time left. With the cap, you can only stay good for only so long.
Roster decisions aside, the core of the team is set. That said, there are some light decisions to be made. With Tanner Glass finally being waived, you have Emerson Etem and Viktor Stalberg dueling it out to be on the fourth line with Dom Moore & Jarrett. A decision will have to be made on Raphael Diaz & Dylan McIlrath. If you let Diaz go play in Europe or wherever, you lose a guy that can play either position on defense and is a solid veteran. If you cut McIlrath, you just wasted three years of development on the guy. It’s good to have options, but you’re essentially once again gambling on winning now or on your future.
If it was up to me, you’ve already mortgaged the future this far (Let’s not forget, Yandle can leave after this season and Boyle will be gone too), that I would risk seeing if McIlrath could clear waivers. Keep Diaz, you need veterans for a playoff run. If McIlrath goes, you will have Boyle and most likely Yandle’s contracts off the books, and you can find another d-man on the market next summer. You’ve already made a ton of bad deals already, because of the cap, like the Hagelin trade, the Talbot trade (Could’ve got more from Florida, perhaps uniting the Hayes brothers), dealing two draft picks in the MSL/Cally trade instead of doing a straight swap, etc, that you’re already all-in. Might as well risk McIlrath on waivers because at this point, is McIlrath going to win you a Cup this season?
I know I’ve been hammering home this point, but really, it’s all about the Cup. I’m interested in seeing where the team is at the trade deadline and what the Rangers would be looking for. Obviously, they need a scorer, but who knows who will be available and for what price.
It still drives me nuts that Hagelin isn’t here and I’m still trying to accept that. I fucking hate this cap!
If there is one thing that all Ranger fans can be smiling about this season, it is the strong play from both goaltenders. Henrik Lundqvist is off to the best start he’s had in recent memory. He’s averaging what seems 2 highlight reel saves a game. At this time last year, he already had 2 games where he gave up 5+ goals, including 6 goals to Toronto in the home opener.
Yes, we all know I’m the Talbot guy, but I’m not the back-up goaltender guy. However, Antti Raanta has been amazing in two games of action, giving up one goal in 120 minutes. The only point I will always make is that Lundqvist is overpaid in the cap era. I know a starter has the grueling schedule, and it’s easier for a back-up to scout games, but at the end of the day, you don’t give 12% of payroll to your goalie. That’s all.
That said, the Swedish Fish connection (Lundqvist is Swedish, Raanta is Finnish, see what I did there?) have been solid every game. The Rangers, who had a 3 game losing streak, were victims of an anemic offense and a dreadful powerplay during that stretch. The goaltending has been on point, which is all you can ask for. Check out my last blog on this topic too, as you really gotta give credit to Benoit Allaire.
Of course, no Zucc hurt the Rangers in the ECF last season. Giving up 6 goals in back-to-back games didn’t help either. But in a 7 game series, you can’t get shut out twice at home. The Rangers will need their money guys to show up when the games matter the most, which brings me to…
If Rick Nash was to retire tomorrow, I believe you would have to call him a bust. Nash was essentially by Columbus to the Rangers for Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon and a 2013 first-round draft pick who turned out being Kerby Rychel, who has not broken into the NHL ranks full-time. The trade wasn’t a steal for either team. Columbus is tanking this season, after a promising finish last year. Columbus has already fired head coach Todd Richards, replacing him with the infamous John Tortorella.
Nash had the best regular season of his career, as a Ranger, last season. However, he sputtered, production wise, the last 6 weeks of the season. The sputter continued into the playoffs. While people call him A-Rod, for not producing in the playoffs, at least A-Rod has a World Series and actually carried a playoff series once. (The 2009 ALCS.)
If you want to look at the positives of Nash thus far, he has been getting good scoring chances. However, he’s being paid to put the puck in the net, not come close. This is hockey, not horse shoes. He’s been victimized by great goaltending, but he’s also wiffed and airmailed a few pucks too. His line has been producing, especially on Friday night, as his line was the first line since 1975 that saw one player get a hat trick, one player get 3 primary assists and one player get 3 secondary assists. So there’s that. However, for the money he’s being paid, the powerplay being terrible as usual and the fact that he needs to score in the playoffs, Nash needs goals.
Everyone, myself included, feels that once Nash gets going, he will go on a tear. I hope to see that sooner than later.
I wrote about this before, but what does it take to fire up Rick Nash? What makes him tick? You think he would be mad about not getting the “A” on his jersey. The Rangers could spare an “A” with the MSL retirement, but Nash wasn’t even considered. Even if they do hand out the “A”, I would think Zucc is more deserving than Nash. Coach AV just needs to figure out how to motivate his should-be star player.
While we’ve talked about the forwards, Yandle and Boyle for the Rangers a little bit, how about the other defensemen? The big story in the first 11 games is how Kevin Klein has worked his way up to the first pair with Captain Ryan McDonagh. Again, I’m a huge fan of Klein and loved the trade. I never thought he would be this good though.
Klein has been producing offensively. As written about previously, before his injury last year, he was the highest scoring defenseman for the Rangers and was having the best season of his career. He wasn’t the same in the playoffs because he rushed back from the injury. However, he’s been great in the first 11 games.
While others may rag on Girardi a bit, I can not. Did Girardi deserve to be bumped from the first pair, where McDonagh and Girardi have shut down every top scorer in the league over the years? It’s a tough call from AV. However, I can’t complain about Klein getting more minutes either. There are Girardi haters out there, but not me. He’s a fucking warrior, similar to Paul O’Neill when he was on the Yankees.
While I think this new pair is working, I don’t think it will last. When you need shut down guys come the playoffs, you gotta stick McDonagh with Girardi. They did a superb job in slowing down Crosby and Ovi. It’s not a knock on Klein, it’s just tough to see Girardi not in that position. Klein has over-achieved and has been an ace for the Rangers ever since they got him.
Is it me or is Marc Staal working on his offensive game as of late? I can’t remember him shooting as much as he has been in these last few games.
Speaking of the defensemen shooting more, how about Ryan McDonagh? I’ve always said hockey is the best sport to watch live. Yea, it’s fun on TV, but nothing beats being there live. Having the fortunate opportunity to sit on the glass one game and a few rows back for other games, I don’t think there is any one else on this team that has a harder shot. He shot one puck on Friday so hard that I thought my hat was going to blow off.
The youngest Captain in Rangers history is off to another great start. I wish Rick Nash had the same fire McDonagh has every shift.
Couple of quick Ranger closing thoughts:
- Will Keith Yandle ever truly run the powerplay?
- How great is Stephen Valliquette during the MSG network coverage? As a guy who played defense (of course no where near this level) and as someone who appreciates the defensive aspect of the game, Vally’s takes are greatly appreciated.
- John Giannone should probably be the lead broadcaster somewhere else. I love his work with the Rangers. Maybe he will get the job if Sam ever retires. Sam is God, obviously, but Giannone is excellent in his own way.
- Pavel Buchnevich is doing great in Russia. It’s going to be competition for that fourth line spot next season.
- Will Kreider heat up soon?
- I still love Jagr. I always try to go to games when he’s in town. You’ve read my previous blogs on him and if you haven’t check out the archives on the right hand of the site. Guy is still putting up 2 goal games.
- Bill Pidto does a fantastic job with the AV Squad. I really enjoy listening to AV speak. It’s a shame WFAN radio, specifically Mike Francesa, doesn’t do more hockey. I would like to hear a radio spot with him, even if it was only 2-3 days a week.
- Poor Cam Talbot doesn’t have the same defense he had with the Rangers. That said, my bold prediction is that the Oilers win a Cup within 5 years.
- Crosby is off to his worst start of the season! Fuck that bitch!
- I like the chemistry between Lindberg and Miller.
- Brassard needs to stay on the first line. Others said it first, but Stepan feeds Kreider better and Brass feeds Nash better.
- I can’t lie, it was tough for me to stand up, not because of all the beer I consumed, but how excited I was that I got to see Zucc’s first hat trick while sitting rink side!
- Carl Hagelin &a the Ducks are having a rough go of it. Anthony Duclair & the ‘Yotes are not.Dancin’ Larry doing his thing.
I wrote this last season, but it’s worth saying again, on the topic of “Dancin’ Larry”:
“I was reading some Ranger blogs and facebook posts about people not liking Crazy Larry, the Rangers fan, who dances during the third period of Ranger games. They say he’s a dumbass or whatever. I just think that’s jealousy. Here’s a guy, who pays for his season tickets and dances like an idiot, to get other fans loud and into the game. What’s wrong with that? Some people don’t like he’s getting paid gigs and commercials and the like, but that just seems like an envious reaction. The guy is a diehard fan. Who wouldn’t want to get paid gigs, get free beer, upgraded seats, and the like, just because he dances at games? Give me free tickets, some beer and cash, and I’ll do the fucking macarena in the bridges if you want.
While it didn’t take long, Larry is now a fixture at Ranger games. You know you gotta stand up after “BABA O’RILEY” plays, because the national anthem is coming up. You know you gotta run to the staircase during intermission to get a smoke in. You know you gotta get to the beer line before the third period starts. And you know you got Larry dancing around the Foxwoods Final 5 mark of the game. It’s tradition now. Do your thing Larry!”
The reason I bring this up is because I’m starting to see some people talk shit about Larry on the twitter. I just don’t get it. The Rangers embrace him. He embraces and brings awareness to the team. What’s the big fucking deal?
I have seen Dancin’ Larry at the bars before games, usually at Molly Wees. I may have had 3 sentences of dialogue with him, so by no means am I tight with him or anything. However, if there are going to be people who bury him for having a good time and supporting the team, then I will be there to say go fuck yourselves!
In fact, for people who want to dance, drink and watch Anthony Duclair, there’s this:
I wrote a blog about all the bars that you can hit before a Rangers game, available here:
I’m surprised Mustang Harry’s is throwing their hat in the ring. To me, when you think Ranger bars, Hudson Station, Blarney Rock and Molly Wee’s all come to mind first. But hey, the more the merrier.
Speaking of other Ranger pre-game bars, HOOTERS on 33 & 7th has been a hit for me. Besides the ample breasts (chicken and human) the place is very convenient. You have clean toilets, cell phone charging stations wall-to-wall TV’s and cheap pitchers of beer. You can’t go wrong.
Before putting the bow on this, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this. My original prediction for the World Series was Royals in 5. When I heard Lundqvist would be there to support Matt Harvey, I tweeted this:
You can’t make this up!
Let’s wrap this long ass blog up with some pictures. Some readers are interested that I work with cranes, so I included some pictures of that too:
Don’t know when I will be back, all depends on work. I plan on attending the game on Tuesday, before the Rangers head out to Colorado and Arizona. If not, I’ll do another weekly wind-up, although I would prefer doing my thoughts right after a game when they are still fresh.
Either way, enjoy your week and LET’S GO RANGERS! Spread the word about the blog!
@NYCTHEMIC on the twitter (I always post live thoughts during games, if you feel like chatting it up like a silly fruitcake!)