NYR/TB 3/13 Review: Rangers Throw Away Two Easy Points, Steve McDonald Award, My Trip to Detroit, Rangerstown Is Now The Kingdom of Raanta, Artie Lange vs Tin Cup Whisky, Steve “Henny Youngman” Valiquette, Scott Norwood Appreciation Night at MSG, The Wild Card Dream Is Closer To Becoming Reality & More From A Disappointing, Yet “It’s OK” Loss from M$G

I can’t take credit for this photoshop, but it’s obvious I didn’t make this, based on my previous photoshop attempts!

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Tonight, I will be recapping the Rangers 3-2 loss to the Lightning of Tampa Bay.

Originally, I was going to do two blogs tonight, one on my Detroit trip and one on tonight’s game. However, I have to be up at 4AM for work during this blizzard, so I’m just gonna stick to the Tampa game tonight. I plan on doing a Detroit blog before the Florida game on Friday, which will be more about the experience than the actual x’s and o’s & play on ice.

Just a couple of quick thoughts on the Detroit game:

  • I’m happy that King Raanta will get to audition himself for the rest of the league these next 2-3 weeks. Just like Cam Talbot in 2015, I expect Raanta to shine, win the Steve McDonald award and either be traded for picks or left unprotected for Vegas. Steve Valiquette and other ex-goalies said in 2015, when discussing Talbot, that you don’t let a guy sit on your bench if he can start somewhere else. An unwritten code between a GM and player of sorts. I really don’t see Raanta falling apart during this stretch and there are many teams that wouldn’t mind a strong starting goalie. Plus, if Raanta, unlike Talbot, flames out, he’s only a $1M cap hit. For next season, Raanta would be low risk, high reward for a team in need of a starter.
  • Speaking of the Steven McDonald award, you can now vote for your candidate by visiting: https://www.nhl.com/rangers/fans/extra-effort-award . I’m voting Raanta, obviously. This year seems pretty wide open. You can also make a case for McDonagh (Who should be in the Norris running, as at least a vote-getter, but winners of the Norris are rated more for their offensive work than their defensive work), Zuccarello, Miller, Grabner, Fast, Hayes or Kreider. I really thought Glass deserved it last year, but Zucc won it. I have no problem with Zucc winning it last year, but it did seem more like a fan-favorite thing.
  • Having good seats in Detroit, you can really appreciate how much Marc Staal has eroded. I’ve seen Staal all season, whether it be on TV or at games live, in further away seats, but being four rows off the ice, man, it was tough watching Staal out there.
  • I’m glad Stepan got the monkey off his back last night, but he did miss several opportunities in Detroit and missed a few here tonight.
  • I’m now 8-0 seeing King Raanta on the road. Would’ve been 9-0 if  Raanta didn’t get hurt and Hank didn’t blow it in Montreal. Hockey tickets are not cheap. Traveling to games isn’t cheap either. When I spend my money, I rather see Raanta this season because I want to see the team win for my money!
  • Michael Grabner may be a second slower than Dylan Larkin in a race.
  • If you can ever sit close, just follow Tanner Glass for a bit. The guy finishes every check, creates havoc and is better forechecker than he’s given credit for.
  • If you’re a home fan, and you see a fan in a visitor’s jersey, saying “<Insert Team Here> Sucks!” is very unoriginal. Get new material.
  • Again, I’ll do another blog on the whole Detroit/Windsor experience later on this week, in my “Farewell to the Joe” blog.
In a battle of back-ups and perhaps two men vying for a starters job in the NHL next season, Peter Budaj outshined King Raanta for one night. Photo credit: NHL.com

Going into this game, the NHL kinda gave the Rangers a fuck you. For starters, this was the second game of a back to back. The Rangers originally were supposed to play Detroit at 12:30PM on Sunday. Instead, the start time was moved to 7PM. So instead of being home by 7PM-8PM Sunday evening, the Rangers were skating in Detroit.

Am I overrating how much energy goes into playing the second game of a back-to-back? I don’t think so. After all, I was at the game on Sunday and I still felt groggy all day today. I know the Rangers didn’t have all the Labatt Blues I did, nor stayed at a casino that pumps in oxygen so you stay awake, but I also didn’t have to skate around like a maniac and take hits either.

That said, the Rangers were the better team against Tampa tonight. Raanta, who was Raantastic in defending his Kingdom in Detroit, had an off-game. He would give up three goals tonight. I would really only put the third one on him, and even that’s a stretch. The first goal allowed was a PPG. The second goal allowed was with a full screen and then a deflection. The third goal was the softest thing Raanta has given up in a while, and it was still a tip in, with a skater in front of him.

That said, the people on twitter who like to tweet at me when Raanta gives up goals miss the key thing – Raanta is still better than Lundqvist in 2017 and is a 100% better value than Lundqvist. Raanta surely doesn’t give up as many soft goals as Lundqvist does either. Lundqvist makes $7.5M more than Raanta. As I always say, I would’ve been happier keeping Talbot in 2015 and keeping Raanta now, than doing the insanity thing with Lundqvist.

The textbook definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The whole “We gotta win a Cup mantra for Hank” is insane. The contract hurts the team and prevents you from deepening up other areas. Plus, the mantra should be “We gotta win a Cup.” It would be nice if Lundqvist could get a Cup to cement himself as an all-time great, but at this stage of the game & with this salary cap, I think the Rangers best chance is without him.  When you want to build a team around one player, it rarely ever works. You need to be deep in today’s NHL to win the Cup.

Raanta dominated in Detroit, but tonight was Budaj’s night.

In what seems like a rarity these days, the Rangers really dominated this game. For the first time in what seems like forever, the Rangers actually out-shot a team in all three periods. The Rangers even got a ton of good looks, but couldn’t finish. In what seems to be a sure thing as the sun coming up in the morning, the Rangers had about 40677678967896897679 shots go wide tonight – all from the usual suspects, such as Nash, Buchnevich and Stepan. Another Scott Norwood appreciation night.

I understand you get more power & velocity when you bypass going for accuracy, but if you’re accurate, at least you’re alive. Maybe you score. Maybe you get a deflection or a rebound. However, you have a better chance of scoring when the puck is traveling towards the net, rather than at the glass in the corner. I know that sounds simple, but the Rangers may need this elementary lesson.

During a 6 vs 5 with Raanta pulled tonight, instead of taking shots on open looks, the Rangers were passing the puck around. You have a better chance of evening up a game, when you put the puck on net, with under a minute to go. Nice passes doesn’t help the scoreboard, especially when time is a factor. This is another rudimentary lesson that AV should introduce to his team at the next practice.

Again, time is of the issue tonight, especially with an LIRR that is as reliable as the Rangers power play. Let’s get to the box score, courtesy of ESPN.com:

1st Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail TB NYR
Steven Kampfer (1)
Assists: Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello
0 1
Brayden Point (10) (Power Play)
Assists: Jonathan Drouin, Nikita Kucherov
1 1
Time Team Penalty Detail
Brendan Smith: 2 Minutes for Tripping Gabriel Dumont
Andrej Sustr: 2 Minutes for Delaying the game Mats Zuccarello

2nd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail TB NYR
Gabriel Dumont (2)
Assist: Jason Garrison
2 1
Michael Grabner (27)
2 2
Time Team Penalty Detail
No penalties this period

3rd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail TB NYR
Brayden Point (11)
Assists: Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat
3 2
Time Team Penalty Detail
Oscar Lindberg: 2 Minutes for Tripping Anton Stralman

Goaltending Summary

Tampa Bay Lightning Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
P. Budaj 28 2 26 .929 60:00 0

New York Rangers Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
A. Raanta 16 3 13 .813 58:14 0
Like in Detroit yesterday, the Rangers out-shot the competition.

Of note, the Rangers used the same line-up these last two nights. With Nash & Grabner now healthy, they were reinserted into the line-up. Kampfer and Smith remain on the defense with Girardi & Staal out. The fourth line right now is Vesey/Glass/Lindberg, with Pirri & Puempel as the healthy scratches. When Jesper Fast returns, AV is going to have to make a tough decision. Vesey and Buchnevich are your wild cards, that could play on either the first or second line. However, they are in the line-up. That means either Glass or Lindberg will be scratched once the team is healthy. Who do you go with? You know I’m Team Glass, and that’s the way I would go. How will AV lean?

I’m not trying to slight Lindberg and I know he’s picked up his game a bit recently, but Glass just brings something to the ice that no other Ranger does. His intangibles helps the “team game.” Will Lindberg be missed as much if the whole team is healthy and Glass plays instead of him? I don’t think so.

On the defensive end, you got Smith & Kampfer in there, with Clendening feeling slighted. When Girardi & Klein come back, are you scratching Smith and Kampfer? For the same unfortunate reason why Lundqvist will take his job back from someone who is better than him in King Raanta (MONEY), Girardi will take his spot from either Smith or Kampfer. Klein will be afforded the same luxury. Do you really think any owner or GM (Who would look like an idiot for overpaying), wants to see nearly $16M (Over 1/5th of the salary cap) sitting on the bench during the playoffs? That’s why Hank and Girardi won’t be scratched.

Kreider is setting career highs in goals and points this season. Photo credit: Newsday.com

Kreider, one goal shy of being the team leader in goals (Kreider has 26 goals to Grabner’s 27), started off this game off promisingly. He had a breakaway, but in what was the case for the majority of the night, Peter Budaj thwarted a good Rangers scoring opportunity.

I really want to highlight the shot on goals in this game. Check this out one more time:

Shots On Goal

Team 1st 2nd 3rd T
Tampa Bay 3 6 7 16
New York Rangers 13 7 8 28

The Rangers absolutely dominated the first period, but couldn’t get much by. Keep in mind, the Rangers recorded 13 shots on goal. Many more went way wide.

The first goal of the game saw Steve Kampfer log his first ever goal as a New York Ranger. It was off a very nice looking hockey play. The Rangers won the faceoff, Zuccarello made a nice pass to Kreider and then Kreider fed Kampfer. Boom, 1-0. Smooth as (Tanner) glass. It was a great set play off a faceoff and perfectly executed. 1-0 good guys.

Raanta, who didn’t have much work in the first period or in this game in general, gave up a powerplay goal two minutes later. Brendan Smith got banged for tripping Gabriel Dumont. Jonathan Drouin, from behind the net set up Brayden Point for an easy shot that beat Raanta. Tie game.

For the rest of the first period, the Rangers really took it to Tampa. Tampa looked like a team that played 24 hours ago, not the Rangers. However, the Rangers left many goals out there and went to the first intermission tied. I was really hoping the Rangers didn’t blow their load, because this was a strong period. It would be tough to top.

Gabriel Dumont would give Tampa the 2-1 lead, five minutes into the second period. This time, Raanta was fully eclipsed by a Bolt, Garrison took a shot and Dumont deflected it in. Raanta never had a chance.

The Rangers, still playing strong, saw Grabner tie the game up at the halfway mark of the game. Grabner found himself all alone in front of Budaj and beat him to make it 2-2.

How about that Grabner? He came back last night and didn’t miss a beat. He still leads the team in goals. It’s fair to say that if he didn’t miss time this season and if he was on the powerplay, he’s a 40+ goal scorer. I still will never understand why AV doesn’t give him any looks at all on the PP. I know I have beaten this point to death on this blog, but really, I’m scratching my head like how a meth addict scratches themselves. Maybe one of these investigative news shows can figure this out. It makes no sense at all to leave your top scorer & fastest skater on the bench during key moments.

Did anyone see the Tin Cup Whisky commercial tonight?

Being 34 years old and being at the tail-end of the 18-36 male demographic, I see a lot of commercials for booze in the programs that I watch. One of them is this new Tin Cup Whisky commercial. Watching this reminds me of an Artie Lange bit.

(While on Artie Lange, I saw him in Detroit on Friday night. I’ll have a review of that in my Detroit blog, later this week.)

Anyway, if you’ve never seen Artie Lange’s “Jack & Coke” stand-up special on Comedy Central from a few years back, here’s the transcript. Be advised, foul language will appear:

00:00:30 [cheers and applause] >> I’m glad heath ledger died, and I’ll tell you why.
00:00:50 [laughter and applause] I can finally get all the movie roles I was losing out to that motherfu– I can’t tell you how many times it came between me and heath ledger for a part in a movie and that cocksucker always fucking got it because he had abs and an accent.
00:01:15 Ah, fuck you.
00:01:18 I auditioned for brokeback mountain.
00:01:23 I had a great audition.
00:01:24 I fucked the shit out of jake gyllenhaal’s ass.
00:01:26 I was, “how’s that feel, jake?
00:01:28 Okay, jakey.
00:01:30 ” I improvised.
00:01:35 I fucked his ass.
00:01:36 I fucked his mouth.
00:01:37 “Ah, take my– take that cock taste back to reese witherspoon, you–” you know, I think I got a lawsuit against the movie brokeback mountain.
00:01:49 There should be a fucking warning on the dvd: ” look, I don’t hate anybody, but I’m an italian guy from jersey.
00:02:01 I got italian uncles.
00:02:01 You know, like, two dudes fucking is like a horror movie to me.
00:02:06 You know, two dudes fucking, to me, in a movie is like when– you know, like when jason comes out of the river infriday the 13th.
00:02:12 ” damn.
00:02:17 ‘Cause that movie’s a con.
00:02:19 It lulls you to sleep.
00:02:20 It starts out like a regular two guys lassoing shit, you know, sawing shit, building huts, I don’t know, whatever the fuck they do.
00:02:29 And, you know, it looked like a john wayne movie, you know?
00:02:33 And then, like, a half an hour in, you’re going, “hey, where’s ” if there was a hot chick in a john wayne movie– you know, I go, “where’s renee goddamn zellweger?
00:02:41 ” and then one night, out of nowhere, it’s a little rainy ..
00:02:50 [chuckles] And jake llenhaal goes into heath ledger’s tent, and in the middle of the fucking night, heath ledger just figures out he’s a gay guy, I don’t know.
00:03:01 Without even asking, flips gyllenhaal over and just goes, “fuck. I’m fucking you.
00:03:05 ” and how lucky: Gyllenhaal was a gay guy too.
00:03:12 What are the odds?
00:03:13 [laughs] I mean, that’s some bullshit.
00:03:16 You ask a guy first.
00:03:17 That’s a little presumptuous.
00:03:20 I don’t mind two guys fucking, but if I’m the guy getting fucked, you ask me first.
00:03:28 Bullshit.
00:03:31 I mean, come on, man.

Anyway, watching this Tin Cup Whisky commercial looks eerily similar to Broke Back Mountain and the situation Artie Lange discussed! Tin Cup Whisky : “Be A Mountain Man & Get Fucked in the Ass By The Dude on the Brawny Paper Towels!” Maybe Tin Cup Whisky is going for the gay Cowboy demographic. Maybe they should run these spots during Dallas Cowboys games?

And please – save me the political correctness, I support gay rights, gay marriage, have gay friends, the whole 9 yards. This was just funny to me, so save me the PC nonsense. Everyone is afraid to laugh these days. It would like me being offended over an Irish/St. Patrick’s day drinking joke.

Valiquette & Trautwig got a good “Odd Couple” straight man & wise guy routine some nights. This was one of them.

Anyone remember the beginning of the season when Valiquette burned Trautwig a bit? In the middle of October, in between periods, these two had this exchange:

Valiquette: “When hockey’s predictable, it’s easy.”

Trautwig then looked on for more.

Valiquette: “It’s almost as predictable as your hair Al.”

It was so out of character and so out of left field that it was hilarious. The fact that Al sold it with such shock and horror made it even funnier.

Once in a while, Valiquette sasses Trautwig a bit and it’s hilarious because you never see it coming. Neither does Trautwig, so his reaction makes it better.

Tonight, during periods, Valiquette made a joke about how Trautwig wipes out the free food in the Delta Club. Trautwig took this joke in better fashion than in the past, but still, it’s great TV when Vally pops these one liners, like he’s Henny Youngman.

While I wouldn’t want to see Vally do it on a regular basis (It’s funnier when you’re not expecting it), I hope he keeps it up. Let’s just hope Trautwig doesn’t call Vally’s mother on him: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/11/14/islanders-fan-angry-al-trautwig-called-my-mom/

In another plug for the upcoming Detroit blog, one of these three books will be reviewed. Hint: It’s not Mr. Feeny’s book.

For someone who has to be up at 4AM, I sure am on many tangents tonight. Back to the game.

The game went to the final intermission, tied at 2-2. Again, we all know the Rangers are the best third period team in hockey, so I was expecting them to win. They dominated this team for 40 minutes, so there was no reason to think anything would change.

In a game that didn’t have many penalties, (Tampa went 1-2 on the PP, the Rangers 0-1), the Rangers never got a man advantage they could’ve used to take the game. Then again, with this Rangers PP, would it matter? Still, they scored on four out of their last nine…

Tampa played their best hockey in this period, but this still felt like a game the Rangers owned. Brayden Point would get the game winner, with a little over 6 minutes left. I wouldn’t call this a soft goal, but it’s something we’ve seen Raanta stop 99/100 times.

Kucherov, who was dazzling with the puck a lot tonight, got a shot off.  Point played with the puck with the tip of his blade and got it right by Raanta on his doorstep. The goal looked worse live, but on replay, the difficulty of stopping this puck did look higher. Still, I would’ve killed Hank for this goal, so I will say this was a bad one to give up. Keep in mind though, Raanta gets $7.5M less than Hank and this one goal doesn’t change that Raanta has had a better season (Stats & numbers don’t lie) than Lundqvist.

While on Lundqvist, isn’t it amazing that since signing his new contract, he hasn’t been in an All Star Game, Vezina running, or won a Stanley Cup? He’s not even a nominee in the Steven McDonald award! Money well spent!

The Rangers would try to muster a comeback, but give credit to Budaj, he prevented it. The Rangers, once again, did themselves no favors with all the wide shots. In the 6 vs 5, they got too pass happy and didn’t display the sense of urgency needed.

Then again, maybe KING RAANTA gave up an easy goal because he knew it increased the odds for the Wild Card & Atlantic Crossover Bracket! ALL HAIL THE NEW BORN KING! HE IS SO WISE AND GIVING!

Standings time:

Metropolitan Division
Blue Jackets

The Rangers have a 14 point cushion over the second wild card, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Caps & Blue Jackets have 2 games in hand over the Rangers. The Penguins have 3.

What didn’t look once look like a strong possibility, the Caps could lose first place. The Penguins and Blue Jackets are a point back of the Caps, who looked like they were going to repeat as President Trophy winners. That said, who gives a fuck who finishes 1-3, as long as the Rangers finish 4th in the Metro!  Let the MeTRIO beat each other up and eliminate each other. We’ll worry about a MeTRIO team after we finish off the Atlantic!

Another thing to watch, speaking of the Atlantic is this:

Atlantic Division

The Senators are two points back of catching the Habs and have two extra games to do it. I’ll tell you what, Rangers vs Senators first round? SIGN ME UP! I hate to do the chest out shit, but I don’t see how the Rangers would lose a 7 game series to the capital of Canada.

I have taken this pic in 4 original 6 arenas (Chicago, Boston, Toronto & Detroit.) All four times, King Raanta won the game! I haven’t been able to stubhub NYR tix on the glass this season or it would’ve been five. It would’ve been 6 if Raanta didn’t get hurt in Montreal!

I’m near 4000 words and it’s almost midnight. The LIRR and snow waits for no one. Hopefully I show up to work and get told to turn around. It means I can work on that “Gretzky Whisky” while working on the Detroit blog!

In conclusion on tonight’s game – it sucked they lost, but the bigger picture is becoming clearer. That picture is in our favor. I don’t think the team played bad tonight either. Sure, a lot of the shots were crappy, but they did get high quality looks that were saved. Raanta gave up one he normally stops. The team was coming off a back-to-back while Tampa, fighting for a playoff spot, had a day off. Plus, the Rangers are better on the road and as a wild card, will be the road team to start a playoff series. I’ll take that this season.

You may have heard, a Detroit blog is coming soon. Until then, enjoy your snow day. See ya on the flip.

As always,


Sean McCaffrey


@NYCTHEMIC on twitter

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