|Photo Credit: Brian Lonergan
Welcome everyone to another Rangers blog, here on DOInow.com. I want to get right into it, so as always, check out the archives on the right hand of the site for previous columns, as I do not want to rehash previous points I made, don’t drink & drive, tip your bartenders and stay away from the Island Park Sports Facebook page whenever a puck goes past Cam Talbot!
How can I start this blog without saying “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW.” Not a Ric Flair “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” but an exasperated relief “Whew.” This is a game that any hockey fan can enjoy, as long as they weren’t a Rangers or Maple Leafs fan. This was a game that would make your blood boil, make your hair gray and make your balls sink into your stomach.
The Rangers, after playing well against Nashville on Saturday night, despite the loss, turned out a complete shit-show OT loss to the Dallas Stars on Sunday afternoon. It was the worst I’ve ever seen the Rangers play. It looked like they could care less, skating during the Sunday showdown. Coach AV, who never throws bitch-fits, like his predecessor, John Tortorella, did bench his top line, in a way to send a message.
The Rangers responded to AV tonight against Toronto, putting up 5 goals. The goals didn’t come from the usual provider, in Rick Nash, although he assisted on three goals. However, the Rangers also gave up 4 goals, in what was Cam Talbot’s worst start of the season.
The Cam Talbot fanboy in me would like to point out the fact that this is the same Toronto Maple Leafs team that beat Hank 6-3, at the Garden, on opening night. Talbot “only” let up four, and got the win! IN CAM WE TRUST!
My facetious joke aside, if Cam Talbot is trying to prove to Glen Sather that he doesn’t need a veteran to back him up during Hank’s injury, this game didn’t help his cause. Out of anyone not related to Cam Talbot, nobody is a bigger fan of the guy than me. However, he wasn’t as sharp as he’s been.
There were times during this game that Cam Talbot was lights out and made impressive saves, but then a 50 foot shot would go in. Going high to the glove side, especially when he’s screened seems like cash money for opposing teams. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it one more time and I hope this sinks in: Talbot is paid $8 million less than Hank. Hank is a great goalie, but he is not playing to his contract this season. Talbot needs these starts. He needs the time on the ice. Let him develop. Let’s talk about where Cam Talbot is after March 1st, when he has a full month under his belt as starter.
Who knows – Talbot might be the goalie during the Rangers playoff run. There have been reports that Hank’s injury is very touch and go. He is not going to rush back to the ice. He has a life threatening injury. Despite some of us being hardcore fanatics, you can’t justify a guy rushing back for the playoffs when his life could be on the line. It’s good for the mistakes he made in this game, that the Rangers were able to pull out a much needed win.
Mats Zuccarello has been an interesting character as of late. Since he has an expiring contract, he has been the subject of many trade rumors. He hasn’t produced as much as last year, on the stat sheet, although he does a lot of things that don’t necessarily show up in the box score. My biggest criticism, and I think the majority of Zuc’s criticism is that he’s a pass first player. Coach AV has already called him out in the media for blowing shot opportunities in favor of throwing errant passes that just kills rushes.
Tonight was no different. On two occasions, Zuc had looks in front of the net, but opted to throw shit show passes. However, this will be overlooked, because he scored on a gimmie goal, due to a sweet pass by Rick Nash. Tyreese from the Walking Dead, today, could’ve scored on that. Zuc would bang in the game winner, with less than 6 minutes to go, and that’s how this game will be remembered. Even with the 2 goals, Zuc needs to shoot, shoot, shoot. These rushes where he is just dumping the puck needs to go.
Kevin Hayes added to the Rangers scoring total tonight, tossing in his 8th H-Bomb of the season. The Rangers rookie has been valuable this season. However, he will be more valuable as a winger. Hayes has been a huge disappointment as a center. In fact, all of the Rangers centermen were disappointing, losing a combined 27 out of 67 faceoffs. If it wasn’t for the third period, the Rangers would’ve lost 35% of their faceoffs.
The Rangers, game in, game out are being dominated in the faceoffs and puck possession. The turnovers by Dan Girardi every game aren’t helping either. Games like this the Rangers are lucky to win. You can’t skate around chasing to get the puck back, make a shift change, and repeat the same cycle every game and expect to win. It’s only a matter of time before a center is dealt for by Sather. It’s just a question of who is being shipped out and unfortunately, I don’t think there are many teams in the market for Tanner Glass.
|Say what you want, but I rather Anton Stralman
What a hockey game we had here tonight. For Ranger fans, this was a game where you had to get two points. If you want to be considered a great team, you need to do your job and beat the bad teams.
With the Rangers struggling for scoring of late, it was nice to see Dan Boyle score the first goal of the game, three minutes in, with a snap shot. Zucc would later score, on the previously aforementioned gimmie goal, making the score 2-0. Ranger fans were happy, Papajohns, who treats their employees like shit and whose pizza tastes like shit, were worried.
However, Ranger fans had to be worried. Morgan Reilly scored a powerplay goal with four minutes to go. It was a momentum goal. It was one of those games that felt like Leaf fans would have to pay their way out the doors, and not in the doors. However, this original 6 match-up provided tons of drama.
The Rangers silenced the crowd after Hayes made a move to the net, making the score 3-1 in the second period. Robidas canceled out the Rangers momentum once again, scoring shortly thereafter, on a bad goal allowed by Talbot, making the score 3-2. Dominic Moore gave the Rangers some breathing room, connecting on a shorthanded goal off a sweet pass by Carl Hagelin, giving the Rangers a 4-2 lead with the game half over.
|Cam Gets a Bail Out
Let the stream of “motherfuckers” and remote control throwing begin. With the Rangers up 4-2 in the second, things looked swimmingly. After all, the Rangers were scoring and shooting at will, at one point out-shooting the Leafs by 150%. Going into the third, as a Ranger fan, you felt good. That feeling didn’t last long.
Before you could crack open your next beer or jiggle out the last drops of urine, Toronto defenseman, Morgan Reilly, connected with his second goal of the game, 20 seconds into the period. Talbot has been brilliant at times. This was just not that night, even when he did make good saves. The bad goals outweighed the positive saves. 4-3 Rangers.
6 minutes later, Daniel Winnik scored, after shooting a puck at Ryan McDonagh that trickled past Cam. 4-4, and I could feel a shart coming on.You got to remember, as the leader of the Talbot Train, whenever something goes wrong, I hear it from 100 different people. Tonight was no different and really, I had no defense, outside of that Hank, who gets paid $8M more, gave up 6 goals at home to this team, in a loss.
I don’t know if it was the abundance of Miller Lites, the non-stop phone notifications or what, but I was sweating hard during the final 14 minutes of this game. Zuccarello scored on a goal, that should’ve probably been stopped, with 6 minutes to go, giving the Rangers a 5-4 lead.
Toronto wasn’t done yet. The Leafs had several scoring opportunities, one on a breakaway especially, that was broken up. Talbot made the big saves in crunch time and got a huge assist from his defensemen.
Overall, this was a team victory, but it was a win that you were happy to just get on to the next game and get the fuck out of Toronto. It wasn’t a statement win, but a win, especially on the road, is huge. It’s hard to say any game is a must-win game, when you already have a playoff spot, but this was not a game the Rangers could afford to give up either.
|He can smile now…
Coach AV, who has been a calming presence for the Rangers, juggled up his lines, again. It worked out, as scoring came from all four lines. If there is any Ranger I feel for right now, it’s Marty St. Louis. MSL, in his limited time here, will always have a warm spot in my heart. What he did for the Rangers during last year’s playoffs will never be forgotten. Even if he hangs it up or can’t break this slump, he was a huge part of last year’s run. I really hope Marty can turn it around. Maybe he will get hot in the playoffs again. One can only hope.
With the win, the standings now look like this:
Islanders 71 points in 54 games
Penguins 68 points in 53 games
Rangers 67 points in 52 games.
The Rangers still control their own destiny, and with 30 games to go, have a legit chance at finishing in first place. While you need the offense to score, Cam Talbot will be playing the biggest games of his life, and don’t think the Rangers don’t have February 16th, a clash with the Islanders at that dump in Nassau, circled in red pen.
Looking ahead, the Rangers will be involved before the March 2nd trade deadline. I don’t know if you need goalie help, and if Sather thinks the team does, it shouldn’t be at the expense of any one pertinent to this teams success. To me, in order of priority, the Rangers need to make these moves:
1. Deal for a center.
2. Lose Glass
3. Deal for a D-man who can challenge Moore & Hunwick for the 6th spot.
4. Back-up goalie for Cam
Watching some Rangers forwards struggle during this stretch makes me wonder why Duclair wasn’t kept around. He’s dominated the minors. He’s dominated the juniors. Wouldn’t it benefit him more to practice with an NHL club, in the same vein how MLB allows their best minor league players to hang around during September call-ups? Even if he doesn’t play, he’s getting NHL experience and could give a guy a rest during the march to the playoffs. I really think the Rangers made a mistake letting Duclair stick around with the Remperts.
In conclusion, a huge two points for the Rangers. Let’s hope Cam shakes this game off. He won a game he shouldn’t of, and lost a game he shouldn’t of as well, during this run. He’s 2-1-1 as starter. He needs to forget this game and be ready for the Av’s. I know I’m looking forward to it.
|Typical Islander fan with a typical Islander crowd
Before I leave you until the next game, I had to make mention of this story. The Islanders are in their last season at the Nassau Coliseum and at times, the number 1 team in the Eastern Conference. Barring some epic collapse, this is a team that is going to the playoffs. However, you couldn’t tell, based on attendance.
I talked about it last week, in my Goodbye to the Nassau Coliseum blog, but fuck, nobody cares about this team. Sure, you have some diehards, but for the large part, no one gives a shit. As I said last week, myself and two of my buddies, were able to get box VIP seats for $50 a pop, to watch the first place team in the Eastern Conference.
Why do I mention this? How about when I got this text, two hours prior to Islanders game time, against a long-time Islander rival & in a game the Islanders were almost guaranteed two points, in the Edmonton Oilers:
|Got $2.26 to watch a first place team on Long Island?
For $2.26, you could’ve watched the Islanders, a first place team, play hockey tonight. In comparison, those same tickets, in the same seats, against the Rangers, are going for as high as $374.10 a ticket on Monday. And people say Islander fans are loyal! GET LAWST!
Islander fans, you are a disgrace. I would give my left nut to spend only $2.26 for a Ranger ticket. I don’t even know if my grandfather can remember Ranger tickets being that cheap. So when the Islanders leave for Brooklyn, you have no one to blame but yourself! Leave it to the high priced Ranger fans to bring in the biggest secondary gate the Islanders will ever see. So long, Nassau!
I’ll be back Thursday night with Avs/Rangers reaction. Until then….
LET’S GO RANGERS
IN CAM WE TRUST
@NYCTHEMIC on the twitter machine