Rangers/Panthers Reaction: I’m Rick Nash Bitch, Juggling, A Challenge to Rick Carpiniello, Hank Looks Shaky & More

Rick Nash scored his 30th goal of the season Monday against Florida. (USATSI)
The man without a letter on his sweater, Rick Nash

Welcome everyone to another blog here on DOINOW.com. Yes, I’m working on getting a webmaster to make this site more visually pleasing. Until then, don’t drink and drive, tip your bartender, wipe twice, and as always, don’t forget to check the right hand of the site for the archives. I will not rehash previous points, so check out my previous columns when you got the time.

The Rangers returned to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, kicking off February with a match-up against a team looking for a playoff spot, the Florida Panthers. The Rangers snuck out a win, in Sunrise, Florida, on New Years Eve, closing out 2014 on an epic tear. It was that night, where the Rangers took a team picture on the team plane, without Henrik Lundqvist, who was inconspicuous by his absence. Ironically enough, front and center in that picture? The man who doesn’t blame his teammates after losses, Cam Talbot.

An NHL season for a hockey club is akin to a roller coaster. There are many ups and downs. Your heart races. You get complacent. You’re waiting for the next rush. The Rangers have made history during this season, sweeping the California teams on the road and sweeping their Western Canada trip. They had a remarkable win streak this year. Then all of a sudden, it’s like the Rangers forgot how to score goals.

The Rangers somewhat limped to the All-Star break, as they were blanked by both the Islanders and the Bruins. The Rangers would beat the Blue Jackets 2-1, the Penguins 5-2 and Ottawa 3-2 (OT) to get to the break. However, it seemed the offense lost some gas. Since returning from the break, the Rangers lost to the Isles 4-1 (A goal with 8 seconds left in the game) and 1-0 to the Habs. Since those two losses, the Rangers returned to MSG to post a 4-1 win over the Canes and a 6-3 victory over the Panthers on Tuesday night.

As a Ranger fan, you have to look at who you’re beating and who you’re losing to. With Henrik Lundqvist in net, the Rangers have been dominated by top teams, like the Habs, Isles and Bolts all year. The one win against the Habs, Price was not in net. Hank has gobbled up some easy teams and has played like the Hank of old at times, but just not consistent enough.

With the NHL season nearly 65% completed, we still do not know who this Rangers team is. Sure they match up well against Pittsburgh, for whatever reason, but if they draw the Isles, Caps, Bruins or Habs in the early rounds, is this a team that can advance to the Cup Finals for the second straight year? Are they a flash in the pan Cinderella story or is this a team built for deep playoff runs? Of course, we would like to think the latter, but it’s not a slam dunk thing.

Where would the Rangers be without #61 this year?

If there has been one thing consistent about the Rangers this year, it is the play of Rick Nash. Nash, who doesn’t sport an “A” or “C” on his jersey, has been the best player the Rangers have had all season. I said it a million times and I’ll say it again – this is the first time the Rangers have had a healthy Rick Nash for a full season. It remains to be seen if Nash can break Jagr’s single-season goal record as a Ranger, but one thing is for certain – he will challenge that record.

Rick Nash has had a history of concussions. Concussions are no fucking joke. There is no set time-table for healing. Everyone recuperates differently. As one of the Rangers highest paid players and best skaters, there has been a lot of pressure on Nash to be on the ice. I feel that he came back too early at points during the last season and a half. However, he’s a hockey player, that is what is expected. If you look at NFL players or even pro wrestlers who have had concussion issues, you will see that concussions have impacted those athletes at a deep level. Nash is human, and that is what happened to him as well.

With the Rangers losing 1-0, after a quick goal from Aleksander Barkov, Rick Nash completely undressed Roberto Luongo on a breakaway short-handed goal. He’s been doing this all year. You’re shocked when Nash doesn’t convert on the breakaway. Nash tied the score up, and it looked like it would be a game Henrik would have to steal, because the Rangers have been more turnover prone than the NY Jets.

The Rangers would beak open the scoring in the second period, with big goals from Kevin Hayes and the new multi-million dollar man, Marc Staal. Boy, has Staal stepped his game up since signing his new deal. With a 3-1 lead, it looked like the Rangers would cruise to victory. That wasn’t the case.

I have no clue how Hank came back to play after this on Saturday

I was shocked to see that Cam Talbot wasn’t starting on Monday. After all, Hank has been playing a ton of games in a row and just took a fucking shot straight to the throat on Saturday. Hank has logged a lot of games the last few years, due to deep playoff runs and the Olympics. Let’s get this clear – Hank is the Rangers starting goalie and the Rangers will live & die with his play. I hate his contract, that’s all.

That being said, I thought Cam would get the start here. The Rangers need Hank at 100% for the playoffs. He is logging a ton of minutes and the playoff are only two months away. Being at the game on Saturday, I have no clue how Hank was able to finish that game. Just flicking your throat with your fingers hurt, never mind taking a puck from an NHL shot to that area!

Before Hank blew another two goal lead in his career (He’s been notorious for blowing leads, just watch the Stanley Cup Finals from last year) I thought Hank looked shakier than Michael J. Fox. He was giving up more rebounds than ever before, his reflexes looked a step short and he kept checking behind him after several shots. He looked unsure of himself. I’m sure that has to due with the injury from Saturday, which again, made me wonder why he was playing today.

Hank will go down as a first ballot Hall of Famer, number in the rafters and have a ton of Ranger goalie records. However, this season, he has middle of the pack stats and has been beaten consistently by better goalies. What drives me nuts about Hank is his hypocrisy. I question why none of his teammates hang out with him. I get mad when I hear him throwing his skaters under the bus. I just don’t comprehend the aura around Hank. To be a King, he needs to win the Stanley Cup. Until then, Mike Richter will always be the greatest goalie in Rangers history to me.

I can’t question Hank’s competitiveness. He definitely wants to win, which makes me wonder why did he want 10% of the Rangers team payroll and want to be above and beyond the highest paid goalie in the NHL? Doesn’t he want the best help available? The guy is a warrior. No denying what he’s done in his career. However, this season, he hasn’t been playing like the best goalie in the NHL.

Hank took the ice on Tuesday night. The guy wants to play every day. You have to love and respect that. I do think AV needs to pull in the reigns a bit though, because this is a game Talbot could’ve won. You don’t need Hank out there against the Canes, Devils, Sabres, Panthers, etc. Save those games for Cam. The Rangers and us Ranger fans, need Hank 100% ready to go, at his best, come the playoffs. I don’t care who you are, taking a puck to the throat is no light thing.

A Rangers Fan Favorite

With the score at 3-3, going into the third, I was concerned about Hank. He didn’t look like himself. I wonder if the injury played into it. This was a big two points at stake for the Rangers. With games in hand, the Rangers have a shot at winning the division this year and at very least, getting home ice in the first round of the playoffs.

Dan Boyle found the back of the twine to give the Rangers a 4-3 lead. 7 minutes later, Mats Zuccarello recorded his first goal in 11 games, to give the Rangers the insurance goal, and a 5-3 lead with less than 5 minutes to go.

I was really happy for Zuc. While Zuc has many female Ranger fans hearts, even my good friend Michelle StanziNOOCH and the Zuc girls on twitter, male Ranger fans respect him too. He’s a scrappy little fucker and scared of no one on the ice. However, he’s in a contract year and already gave the Rangers one hometown discount. He’s been the subject of many trade rumors, along with John Moore and JT Miller.

With Zuc, I do not want to lose him. He is a great locker room guy, is good for morale and does a lot of things that don’t show up in the stat sheet. To me, John Moore is expendable, with Matt Hunwick around. I wouldn’t want to lose JT Miller. The Rangers have given up on so many young players before, even centers, I mean look at Manny Maholtra. He’s still kicking around in Montreal. However, I don’t see how you can replace a Zuc. Sure, for his personal benefit in a contract year and for the Rangers club, you want to see him produce more scores. However, his passion and willingness on the ice, makes him a guy that you can’t move to another team.

The Rangers would close out the scoring with a Rick Nash empty netter, giving him 31 goals, tied for tops in the NHL in that department. I can’t believe WEBLEEDBLUE.com doesn’t have a “I’M RICK NASH, BITCH” shirt yet!

What impressed me about Staal, especially after signing his new deal, is his aggressiveness on the ice. Towards the end of the game, Staal & Huberdeau got into it. The first one to defend Staal? Rick Nash. How can you not love that? The team CAM-radarie is an important asset for teams trying to make Cup runs. Sure we expect Klein and Zuc to throw down, but to see Rick Nash, man,  a tear fell from my eye in joy!

Tanner Glass aka I miss Derek Dorsett

The Rangers have been juggling lines and defensive pairs during this recent struggle of a stretch. For some reason, Tanner Glass finds himself into the line-up, again. I said it last blog and I’ll say it here – I really hope Glen Sather deals Glass in the same vein he dealt Michael Del Zaster last year, and picks up a diamond in the rough, ala Kevin Klein. Glass isn’t even a good goon. To me, he is overpaid, a liability and not someone I think can help this team come playoff time. I don’t know who Sather can get for him, due to the contract of Glass, but at this point, just getting his salary off the books would help the Rangers next season.

While on the subject of questioning players, especially a player in a contract year, is it me or does Carl Hagelin always fire slapshots on breakaways? He’s a finesse player, so I’m surprised with all the looks he gets, he is always trying to be Chara or Weber when one on one with the goalie.

While it was the Panthers, who are scratching and clawing for a shot at the playoffs, this was a good win for the Rangers. The Rangers started slow, Hank seemed shaky after the injury and I question Glass over Miller, but they pulled out a 6 goal, two point in the standings, performance. I just want to see the Rangers play like this against Boston and league leading Nashville, both who are the Rangers next opponents.

Ironically enough, these same Florida Panthers are a team Ranger fans will be rooting for tomorrow night, as the Panthers challenge the Islanders at the dump in Uniondale.

Rick Carpiniello

Rick Carpiniello is a name some Ranger fans should be familiar with. To me, he is my favorite writer/reporter, when it comes to the New York Rangers. I may not be his favorite blogger, but at the end of the day, I respect his work and have been reading him as long as I can remember. He runs the @RangersReport twitter account and posts his news/recaps at http://rangers.lohudblogs.com/

As I’ve shifted from the wrestling world to doing my recaps out of my passion for the Rangers, here at DOINOW.com, I’ve had several interactions, on twitter, with Rick. I don’t know if he knows that most of the time I’m breaking his balls, but I do mean what I say. Rick and I agree on alot of things, except for Henrik Lundqvist. We’ve gone back and forth on twitter on this subject.

What I propose and I hope Rick has that Marty McFly “Don’t call me a chicken” gene in him, is a point-counterpoint email exchange on the topic of Henrik Lundqvist. I understand he’s a paid reporter and I’m just a fan who loves the Rangers. I don’t want it coming off that he’s stooping down to arguing with an unpaid blogger (But our twitter follower numbers aren’t that far off), but I would like to challenge him to a friendly debate on Henrik Lundqvist, Cam Talbot, contracts and other Ranger issues.  If he sons me, so be it, I feel like it would be a great read. I know he has the time to do it, based on the constant back and forth twitter, in good nature, ball breaking.

So Rick, I’m calling you out! Email for email, we will make points, the other will counter them. We can post the exchange here, and if you feel it’s good enough for your site, you can post it on your site too. You seem very confident in your stances, so this can be the paid writer embarrassing the blogger. What do you have to lose? My readers would like to see it. I’ll even buy you a beer and a Lundqvist 8×10 afterwards!

I hope this doesn’t come off like grandstanding, but I would really like to debate Rick, as he’s quick with his points but in a 140 character limit on twitter, can never expand on them. So what do you say Rick, do you have the balls to debate someone you constantly call a “Talbot fanboy”? I’ll even up the stakes – we can do a reader fan poll, letting the readers decide who won the debate. The loser can donate $100 to the MSG Garden of Dreams Charity. It’s a win-win. You know where to find me to respond!

Win or lose, LGR!

The Rangers got a bunch of tough games coming up. The Rangers return home for a showdown with Boston on Wednesday for NBC’s game of the week. Let’s hope MSG is airing the game too, because no one beats Sam Rosen, when it comes to calling a game. The Rangers then have a weekend slate of games set, as they head to Nashville on Saturday, and return home for Dallas on Sunday. Points are precious, especially late in the season. These next few games could be an audition for the trade dead-line as well.

I’ll be back Wednesday night with Rangers/Bruins reaction.

In closing, while on Boston, how ironic is it that after an NFL season that featured murders, women beating, child abuse, drug charges, DWI’s, and everything else, after already coming off seasons of gun charges, dog killing and tax evasion, that the team accused of cheating won the Superbowl? How great was it that the day after, an NFL Hall of Famer gets busted for trying to get a hooker. Sadly enough, the NFL is still King, has the best ratings, makes the most money and nobody cares to fight it. We just accept it. The National Felony League – the strongest machine in the sports world.

LET’S GO RANGERS
Bring it Carp!

Sean McCaffrey
BULLSMC@aol.com
@NYCTHEMIC on the twitter gimmick

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