Thursday, January 29, 2015

What Now Blueshirts?

The Rangers romped into Nassau Coliseum on a 16-3-0 tear, looking like Cup contenders and limped out with a 4-1 pasting looking like a team in the fight of their lives for a playoff spot. Somewhere in between are the real Rangers. At least I'm hoping that.

However, one thing is obviously clear right now. The Rangers can not beat the Islanders. Three games, two at MSG and one on LI have all produced Ranger losses. Not close either: 6-3, 3-0 and 4-1. Game, set, match. So what gives? Well the Islanders are young, big and fast, and have all four lines. The Rangers have a mixture of those three attributes, but not enough to make four solid lines. They are now dickering with putting Dominic Moore on the third line with Carl Hagelin and Lee Stempniak. That would put Kevin Hayes to center Jesper Fast and Tanner Glass. Wow!

Losing to the Islanders is not a mere aberration. Another team built like the Islanders, Tampa Bay also has a 3-0 record against the Rangers. Two teams have accounted for almost half the Ranger losses. If the season ended now we would play the Red Wings in the playoff. However, Boston, who is rolling right now is only a point behind us. If they pass us we finish eight and get the Islanders. But this could be a moot point if we fail to make the playoffs.

Tonight is another toughie, Le Habs, Montreal. They are only two points out of first in the Atlantic. They are also fast, though not as young and big as the Islanders. However, they have Carey Price, a great goalie who usually gives us fits. Should be quite a tussle and let's see what we have left in the tank after the Islanders drained it.

ICINGS: The T/Birds lost to Smithtown, the top team in the league, 5-2. Like the Rangers, the T/Birds have problems with the top teams.

Monday, January 26, 2015

All-Star Fiasco

I have never been a fan of All-Star games. In hockey, don't hit. In basketball, no defense. In football, no blitzing. Baseball may be the only one to get it right, but the game is too long. Last night the score was 17-12 with a Team Toews beating a Team Foligno. How's those apples? Do you know where your favorite player was playing? Regular season team mates were on opposite sides.

17-12. How would you like to be a goalie. Islander goalie Jaroslav Halak, who gave up four goals on ten shots said, "it was a fun weekend." The bars must have been hopping. John Tavares became the sixth player in All Star history to score four goals. The game was a glorified shootout.

Rick Nash, scored two goals and was booed by the "hometown fans." Imagine getting booed in an All Star game in your own home town. The game was played for one purpose only, TV revenue. They should change the format.

How about an All-Star game with the previous Cup Champs meeting a collection of college All-Stars? That used to happen in the NFL. The winner of the NFL Championship used to play a collection of college players all ready to join the NFL the following season. It would stir up interest in college hockey and give the fans a glimpse of the future stars of the NHL. What a boost to hockey in the USA.

We are bracing for a strong N'Eastern in the New York metro area. It says here that the Ranger-Islander game scheduled for tomorrow should be postponed. The area is going to be loaded with trucks attempting to clean up the mess, the roads will be clogged and we don't need people scrambling in icy, messy roads to get to a hockey game. Postpone the game.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rangers Avoid The Trap

It was the classic trap game. A high flying team, the Rangers, winners of 15 of 18, against a team struggling to stay relevant, tied for 12th in the playoff race. Add to that a goalie, Craig Anderson, who gives the Rangers fits, and you had the making of a Ranger loss. Almost, but not quite.

The Rangers on a goal by Kevin Hayes, 6th, took the lead in the second period, but the Senators wiped it out with two goals in just 63 seconds, took the lead and control of the game. That lasted til the 2:42 mark of the third when Kreider tied it with his 10th on a beautiful duo of passes from St. Louis and Staal. The winner, in OT, was scored by Hagelin, 9th, off a beautiful feed by Stepan.

The goalies were good in this Swedish dual. Lundqvist, now 23-9-3, made 33 saves. Anderson, 12-11-7, made 32 saves. Anderson came into the game with a 6-0-0 and a 1.1 GAA against the Rangers. So all the elements were there for a loss by the Rangers but this team has shown a grittiness and toughness that carries them through.

The Rangers are now a point behind  the Pens for second place in the Metro. They are 5 points behind the Islanders who they play next Tuesday on the Island. The Rangers have two games in hand on the Islanders and one game on the Pens. The Caps are one game behind the Rangers and the Rangers have two games in hand.

So let the games resume.

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