NYR/ARI 10/23 Review & Thoughts: Rangers Own The Weekend, Contributions From Everywhere, Line-Up Changes & Much More

Dan Girardi scored the game winning goal on Sunday night.

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com, one out of three that I’m doing for this Monday morning. Check the main page for the two other blogs.

Sunday was a great day if you’re a sports addict like yours truly. Since I’m still in the tail end of getting over this bronchitis, I’ve been sleeping a lot, so I got a good rest after the Rangers 4-2 win over the Caps on Saturday night. Hence, no blog/recap of that game.

Sunday I was feeling a tad fresh and woke up early. I finished reading my third book of the weekend (Check the book review blog I posted today), the new Wayne Gretzky book. I took a lot out of it. After polishing that off, I tuned into the Giants game, then rolled that into the 1pm & 4pm NFL games on Redzone. While doing that, I was able to catch the Oilers/Jets Heritage Classic game (Blog on the main page of that game). As the third period was winding down, the Rangers game started. As the Rangers game was winding down, The Walking Dead started. So in other words, on Sunday I did nothing but drink beer and watch TV. And people have the balls to protest this country. USA! USA! USA!

Couple of thoughts on the huge win in Washington:

  • Jimmy Vesey hopefully will be everything we think he can be. While watching this Arizona game tonight, it seems that his ceiling is higher than Anthony Duclair’s. I still miss the Duke. Another horrible Slats trade.
  • Speaking of Duke, he’s off to a slow start. Usually ex-Rangers burn the team. You didn’t hear a peep out of Duclair tonight. He played well last year, so hopefully he can find his mojo.
  • As he’s been doing a lot lately and even in tonight’s game against the ‘Yotes, Lundqvist gave up an early one. It happens far too much. Maybe he thinks this motivates the team. I don’t know. However, he is the highest paid goalie in the league. He is the only goalie to make the most money on his team. He has to stop putting his team in a hole the second you sit down after the National Anthem. And yes, YOU STAND for the National Anthem!
  • Brandon Pirri is making a case as the silent sleeper steal of the off-season. I really don’t know what to expect all year, but for the small sample size we’ve seen, it’s been impressive.
  • The second goal Vesey scored was a thing of beauty. It doesn’t get much better than that.
  • Like last season, Nash was there for the cheap empty netter. I was hoping Vesey would get it, to complete the hat-trick, but wasn’t meant to be. Empty net goals are big because it seals the deal on the game, but for every empty net goal Nash scores, I would like to see him fucking finish on a breakaway!
  • The captain, Ryan McDonagh, was just a beast. Breaking up plays left and right. Showed why he belonged in the conversation when you talk top D-men in the league.
  • While I’ll never be a Lundqvist guy (And I’m 100% turned off on him completely after reading Stan Fischler’s book, check that blog out on the main page), I’m not one of these Coach AV haters that are all social media. My friend that I’ve known for 15 years, Ricky Otazu (@Jcwrickyo on twitter) absolutely despises AV. I mean take my hatred for Lundqvist’s contract and times it by 100. That’s how much Ricky hates AV. I am a fan of AV. He’s been pushing the right buttons. I thought he had the Rangers more up and ready for this game than Washington was at home. I was pleasantly surprised.
I will never get over this trade. It is even worse, considering the Rangers let Yandle walk. Mind-numbing stupidity. Pic credit: FoxSports.com

After taking out last season’s President Trophy winners & Metropolitan rival, the Washington Capitals, on Saturday night, the Rangers came right back to NY to play the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday evening.

Going into this game, there were all sorts of line-up changes. I originally read something that Antii Raanta was sick, but I guess someone assumed that once they heard the news that Lundqvist was starting. Usually, Lundqvist does not play two games on back-to-back nights. I guess with not another game until Wednesday, AV wanted to get Dolan’s money worth out of Hank. I respect the decision. Hank makes the money, so play the guy. Look at the schedule Holtby keeps in Washington. He won a Vezina last season because of it.

In alarming news, Chris Kreider was scratched with neck spasms. Hopefully it is nothing too serious, as he’s been the best player the Rangers have had thus far, in this young NHL season. Furthermore, his fellow Russian speaking comrade, Pavel Buchnevich, was moved to the IR. Gotta wonder how serious the commie’s back is. To fill the holes, Josh Jooris skated once again. In a somewhat shocker, Oscar Lindberg was called up 10 days early and filled the center spot on the fourth line.

Of note, Adam Clendening was scratched as AV said he didn’t like some of his play on Saturday. If you’re gonna say that, then how the fuck does Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist play every night? Dylan McIlrath remained in AV’s doghouse. Really – they should just trade the Undertaker rather than stifle his growth as a player. AV went to his old and true pairs of Mac/Girardi and Staal/Klein. Holden/Skjei filled out the third D-pairing.

The Rangers wound up winning the game against the Coyotes, with a final tally of 3-2, thus sweeping the weekend and taking four huge points. I already see some fans pounding their chest. I mean I want to be optimistic and rah rah too, but if you don’t realize, that for this team, that it’s all about how you finish in the playoffs, then you’re utterly lost. I’m glad they are winning, but the goaltending and defense scares me.

I mean Lundqvist has played three back-up goalies this season and he’s 1-2 against them. He beat Louie Domingue tonight, a goalie that came into this game with a near 7.00 GAA. I get that other goalies come into MSG and try to play their best game in this historic venue, but Hank needs the same attitude. He’s too complacent. These goals within 2 minutes of a game is becoming a tired and sore act. Hank wailing his arms then blaming his team in interviews after these goals is just horseshit too. Then again, what can you expect from a guy that physically attacks women? (Check out the book review blog for more on that.)

From last year’s Hockey Fights Cancer game.

Before the puck dropped against the Coyotes, the Rangers were plugging their annual Hockey Fights Cancer charity drive. For all the crap I give to this team, whether be it asshole Dolan, Senile Sather or the overpaid Swedish piece of cheese, it’s times like this where you really are proud to be a fan. I mean, the work Adam Graves does alone should grant him saint-hood.

Between Joe Micheletti telling some touching stories about people with cancer and looking at Al Trautwig’s teeth for two long consecutive minutes, it has scared me straight and encouraged me to quit smoking.

The Rangers, through the NHL website, are auctioning off practice jerseys and sticks, with the money going to cancer fighting charities. I believe all monies collected go to the cause, as opposed to the con-job that is the Susan Komen foundation.

Speaking of the NHL website and their app for that matter too, it is virtually impossible to use. The NHL wants full control of team sites/apps, which makes my phone go bat-shit crazy. It is terrible. Go back the old format. This new crap isn’t user friendly at all.

After a touching National Anthem, the game was on its way. Speaking of the National Anthem, have you seen this video yet:

That’s artist Joe Everson singing the National Anthem, while painting a picture, at a minor league Toledo Walleye hockey game. I saw this early Sunday morning and thought this was great. It’s about time we hear a positive story, when it comes to the Anthem these days.

Before moving along, here’s the official box score of the game, courtesy of ESPN.com:

1st Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail ARI NYR
Radim Vrbata (2)
Assist: Connor Murphy
1 0
Josh Jooris (1)
Assists: Michael Grabner, Jesper Fast
1 1
Time Team Penalty Detail
Alex Goligoski: 2 Minutes for Hooking

2nd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail ARI NYR
J.T. Miller (2) (Power Play)
Assists: Ryan McDonagh, Brandon Pirri
1 2
Radim Vrbata (3)
Assists: Max Domi, Christian Dvorak
2 2
Time Team Penalty Detail
Jakob Chychrun: 2 Minutes for Hooking
Rick Nash: 2 Minutes for Tripping

3rd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail ARI NYR
Dan Girardi (1)
Assist: Brady Skjei
2 3
Time Team Penalty Detail
No penalties this period
Dan Girardi gets the Broadway Hat and breaks the Ranger twitter internet! Pic credit: NY Rangers

This game got off to a usual start, meaning the highest paid goaltender in the league let up an early goal.  It came within 33 seconds of puck drop, as Radim Vrbata deflected a puck right by the self-proclaimed “King”. I thought that puck could’ve been stopped. In fact, I saw Cam Talbot save tougher deflections in the Heritage game on Sunday afternoon.

In what has now become norm for the Rangers, the Rangers battled back and evened up the game off the stick of Josh Jorris. For Double J, he logged his first NYR goal. It was a fourth line goal at that. In recent times, the Rangers went the furthest when their fourth line was producing, so you have to be happy with what you’re seeing.

In the second period, Ryan McDonagh, who has just been in Brock Lesnar beast mode on defense, blasted a puck from the point on a PP. JT Miller deftly deflected the puck right by Domingue to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Give MILLER TIME some credit here. That puck was flying and Miller caught it perfectly. A work of art.

In what also has become customary for the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist could not control himself and had to blow the lead. Vrbata put an easy one by King No Cup. If the Rangers really wanted to fight cancer, they would be fighting Lundqvist’s contract.

Heading into the third tied 2-2, leave it to the Paul O’Neill of the Rangers, the warrior, the iron man, Dan Girardi, to get a goal. Girardi bombed one from deep, two minutes into the third to give the Rangers the 3-2 lead. Both teams played systematic hockey for the rest of the period, rarely taking any chances or doing anything besides clearing the puck from the zone. The Coyotes went for the extra attacker with little more than a minute left in the third, but it was not meant to be. The Rangers won 3-2 and beat a bad team, just like they should, on their home ice.

If you really care about the standings now, with the win, the Rangers moved into first place in the division. To be fair, they’ve played an extra game than the point behind Capitals.

I was really happy to see Girardi get the game winning goal and the first star of the game. He gets a lot of shit from Ranger fans and I get it. However, who knows when Girardi was last 100% healthy? He doesn’t have a bad attitude. I know he has a terrible contract and hasn’t delivered, but I also think it’s because he’s been playing hurt. It’s not like he’s made outrageous demands or statements, like saying he wants a Cup at all costs, then bends the team over a barrel at contract time. It’s not like he’s said “Give me two goals and I got this.” It’s not like he buries his team and takes no responsibility after a loss. He’s a man’s man.

What also made me happy was to see McDonagh get the third star of the game. McDonagh assisted on the Miller goal. However, his biggest contribution was on defense, yet again. I’m glad to see a guy get rewarded for playing tough and hard-nosed defense. Superb defense doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, but it’s great to see it be noticed by whoever hands out these silly Mario stars.

I don’t know who I can’t stand more – Marchand or Wayne Simmonds.

For the Rangers, these were two solid victories. Obviously, I was more impressed by their win on Saturday, beating the Caps on the road. The Rangers think they are a playoff team and a team that can go far in the playoffs. By that logic, they should kick the crap out of the Coyotes, a last place team that won’t spend money.

As I said above, I don’t think we know what we have with this team. You don’t win Stanley Cups in October. All we can hope for is a good regular season and some home-ice in the playoffs. From there, we’ll see who the Rangers truly are.

On tap for the Rangers is an Original 6 game with the Bruins on Wednesday night. For NBC, at least this is a real rivalry game. For us poor fans, it’s a late start on a work/school night. I’m more excited when the Rangers travel to Boston in two weeks, as I’ll be attending that game. I’ve talked about this before, but if you have the means and can save a little money, it is so worth going on the road to see games. I like to see different places anyway, but it is nice to see the entire league and how different fans interpret the games. That’s why I love my trips to Canada, which is something I talk about in my Oiler blog, that’s also on the main page today.

Depending if I can kick this bronchitis once and for all (Nothing is worse than coughing so bad that your stomach muscles make you vomit, which means I don’t want to be in a public place right now!) I’m gonna try to go to Wednesday’s late night soiree.  Either way, I’ll try to have a blog recapping that game here.

Check out the two other blogs posted today!

Until next time….


Sean McCaffrey


@NYCTHEMiC on the tweeter machine

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