Saturday, June 14, 2014

Refs Rob Rangers

For the second time in three games at Staples Center the NHL officials lived up to their reputation as the worst officiating in all sports and determined the outcome of a game. With the Rangers up 2-1 in the third, in pivotal game five, there was a collision near the boards where the King skater clearly put his leg out and tripped Zuccarello. The cross eyed ref called the penalty on Zuccs and lo and behold Gaborik scored the tying goal which eventually forced the game into two OT's and a Ranger loss when Martinez scored the game winner.

Needless to say the NHL highlights this am are glossing over the incident. Bettman's boys, and girls, know who pays them. You remember the first bad call. Brown sitting on Lundqvist while the Kings score a goal. No other sport would tolerate these missed and bad calls. This series should be back in New York for game six with the Rangers up 3-2.

But congratulations to the Kings. They are a big, tough, hard skating team. I'ts not their fault they had some help on the ice. It's the breaks. For the Rangers, the breaks were all bad.

The Rangers also should be congratulated. They gave it their all. Lundqvist was heroic. The defense, tired and battered, left it all on the ice. The offense, with a little bit of luck, might have won it with excellent chances by Kreider, Nash and McDonagh. But playing a tough team with aid from the officials was just too much for the Rangers to overcome. Maybe the Kings should have gotten a penalty for too many men on the ice.

More to come. In the meantime, great job Rangers. We are proud of you.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

LUNDQVIST!!!

I said the other day that the Rangers needed to win one for the King and last night they produced with two big plays. No, it wasn't Benoit Pouliot's opening goal off a point shot by John Moore on an expiring power play and it wasn't Marty St. Louis's game winner off some gritty work by Chris Kreider. It was two defensive gems that will live in the lore of Ranger history as this team moves further into the playoffs.

First it was Anton Stralman who stopped and cleared a puck that was dancing along the goal line with Jeff Carter ready to bury it. Then it was Derek Stepan, with the aid of snow, that was generated by the acrobatics of Lundqvist, that hand passed a puck, sitting on the goal line, back to the King. To add another element the coach 'tweaked' his lines a bit. He moved Brad Richards to the fourth line and promoted the dynamic Dominic Moore to center Kreider and St. Louis. That move paid off big with the game winning goal. Nice job coach.

But it was Lundqvist who was the star of the game. Forty saves, count them, forty. The only goal was on a breakaway by Dustin Brown when Dan Girardi broke his stick. After that, it was, thou shall not score on my team. The Rangers were out shot 41-19 and 15-1 in the third period. So if you thought the ice was tilted it was. It was one hell of a game. I saw it at home with number one son, grandson and wife. Number two son was at his usual seat in section 210.

This game was a classic for the ages courtesy of Lundqvist and friends. Is it the start of something big with a big comeback or just a bump in the road for Los Angeles? It says here it's the start of something big and the new revamped lineup will bring us back for game six. No long predictions, one game at a time.

Let's go Rangers!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Win One For The King

No, its not like "win one for the Gipper," our guy is alive and well and he needs help. Let's stop talking about being on the brink and start talking about winning one game. Yes to be down 3-0 is daunting but the Kings in this playoff series came off the floor, 0-3, in the opening round, and won four straight. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs came back from 0-3 in the finals and won four straight. That's the key. Forget the past and just win four straight, one at a time. And Lundqvist is owed this.

After a slow start to the season, the King has carried the Rangers into the playoffs and into the finals. Without Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers do not make the playoffs. So now it's time for the Rangers to show up and win it for the King. This has been a rough series for Lundqvist. The refs blew game two with the non-call of interference of King on the King. The NBC so called analysts have inferred all along that Lundqvist was being out played by Jonathan Quick. The height of absurdity was reached in game one when Lundqvist made 20 saves in the third period, Quick made three, and all Milbury and Jones talked about was the game saver from Quick. So, no respect for the King.

But, the worst is the so called fans. Are they jumping off the bandwagon? All around me Monday night there were rumblings on the three goals scored by the Kings. Well the first was redirected by Girardi past Lundqvist. The second was redirected by St. Louis by Lundqvist. The third was a two on one by the Kings and the pass went off a Rangers skate back to the passer who put it in a wide open net. I've said it before, most of Lundqvist's problems are the guys in front of him wearing Ranger Blue.

So let's get back on the bandwagon. Let's back this team to the hilt. Look at the thrills they have given us. Beat the hated Flyers in seven. Came back from a 1-3 hole to beat the whiney Pens. And finally eliminating the haughty and verbose Canadiens in six. So hold our heads up. This is a great run and its not over yet. Get back on the bandwagon before it passes you by. Let's Go Ranger fans. Lets Go Rangers.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Vigneault, Richards Doom Rangers

You could sense it in the reaction of the crowd. It was loud prior to the game, but when the game started the crowd became eerily subdued waiting for something. At first we thought we were waiting for a Ranger explosion, but soon discovered it was the implosion we were awaiting. Near the end of the first period the Rangers went on a power play and guess what? Out came Brad Richards. The PP sputtered and at the end Carter rifled a shot off Giradi past Lundqvist and it was 1-0 at the buzzer. The crowd surrendered.

The Kings were to score two more goals, one off of Marty St. Louis and the Rangers continued to sputter on the power play five more times, all lead by Richards, going 0-6 and sealing their fate. Richards didn't miss a shift and in his ineptitude he continued the malaise of St. Louis and Carl Hagelin who looked like spectators.

Don't let the Ranger shot total fool you, Quick made 32 saves. The Rangers were outplayed and Richards and others talking about lucky and bad bounces was an effort to mute their inferior play. The coach, Vigneault, added to the defeat. Not once in the sixty minutes did he make one line change. Not once. You think maybe moving St. Louis and Hagelin, two of the biggest producers in the playoffs, might have changed something. Nada. Zilch. Also, not once during the power play did he not start Richards at center for the faceoff and then move to the point. I don't believe he won a single faceoff and was totally useless on the power play.

I mentioned in the previous blog of the ineffectiveness of Richards on the power play and how his play was hurting his linemates St. Louis and Hagelin. Well last night is was all there to see. But its more than that. The team did not come out with fire or passion. I believe we got four shots in the first period. They took the crowd out of the game. I can say with all honesty that in all my years of going to playoff games this is the worst I have ever see a Ranger team play. It surely was the worst since the 1994 playoffs.

But what's surprising about missing fire and passion? Game two was lost when the refs blew an interference call against Lundqvist. The coach's comment was something akin to asking the NHL. No outrage. Pierre Maguire, the NBC analyst, in between the benches ranted that the no call was bad and cost the Rangers the game. But no comment from our coach. Maguire's job may well be in jeopardy next season. So now we are down 3-0 and we will hear the usual crap, about winning one at a time and going shift by shift. The Rangers are in a deep hole, partly their fault, partly the officials.

I would say, and last night added to the confirmation, is that the NHL is the worst officiated sport of all the major sports. The NHL officials influence the outcome of NHL games more than any other official in any other sport. I dare say the World Wrestlng Association referees have as much credibility as the NHL officials. The best, most exciting sport in the world, has the worst officials in the world. So game four, and maybe the last one, will be Wednesday. What do you want to bet that our fearless coach comes out with the same lineups and uses Richards on the power play. Brad Richards is considered the de facto Captain of the Rangers. Last night the de facto Captain and the coach showed no leadership and no ability to change things when they are going right.

Let's see what kind of a crowd shows up Wednesday, if even a crowd shows up. One more thing. Rumblings around us of how Lundqvist should have made the saves on the King's goals especially the first one. Well two of the three went off Rangers and the third was no shot to stop. Let's understand one thing. This Ranger team has picked up its game in the playoffs, but Lundqvist after an early slump, has been solid all year. If not for Lundqvist the Rangers would not have been in the playoffs. Its as simple as that. Fans should remember that and not get caught in the moments of any particular game. He is the true leader of this team. In fact he is the de facto Captain.

ICINGS: The Pundit does not get around as good as he used to, so I have to rely on the disability facilities that an arena offers. Last night the Garden failed. The elevators that were highlighted to be used for disabled persons had a line a mile long and we had to keep trying other elevators. Well it seemed that the reasons the lines were long was that the elevators had to be used for the press. That's a good move. Take care of the press and that guarantees a good story about your team even when it falls flat on its face as it did last night.

Monday, June 09, 2014

The Rangers Need A Little Tweak

Looking forward to tonight's game, and I surely am, the Rangers all have to show up and give it their all for no matter how long it takes. So far they have, but unfortunately, and whatever the reasons, they have missed out at the end. It's fair to say while the Rangers have gone toe to toe with the Kings they weren't clicking on all cylinders. So hence, some changes, minor, but needed.

The number one concern is the Richards-St. Louis-Hagelin line. Richards has this line bogged down. Hagelin has scored on breakaways and St. Louis on the power play, but for most of the games the line has trouble getting out of its own zone. Reader 'unknown' makes a good point and suggestion. Shift Nash to this line and put St. Louis on with Stepan and Kreider. Kreider is a crasher and Nash while not scoring has been physical. Hence, one physical player on each line. One scorer, St.Louis with Stepan and Hagelin with Richards.

Also, take Richards off the power play. He is the supposed quarterback. Use two defensemen on the power play. Girardi and McDonagh, with McDonagh the quarterback. Stralman and Staal with Staal the quarterback. Two D-men on the power play also lessens the chance of a shorthanded goal by the Kings. And by the way, shoot the puck from the point.

The last two games have been blown in the OT's by D-Men having costly turnovers that have led to the Kings game winners. Both Girardi and McDonagh logged over thirty minutes in the games. Now with the games going into OT that seems normal however maybe better utilization early might alleviate the problems at the end. Both John Moore and Klein have gotten less than twenty minutes in these long games. They both are capable and make a decent combo. How about jacking up their ice time early so that the McDonagh's. Giradis and Staals are more rested at the end. Just a thought. One more thing. We have to be tougher and more effective in the neutral zone. We can't allow the Kings to come unimpeded through center ice and then having a battle royal in our defensive zone. They shoot from any and all angles, cause havoc in front of the net and cause undue stress upon Lundqvist. We have to counter that and counter it witha vengence. The best defense is a good offense.

So tonight we find out if we are truly a contender or was this just a nice run by a team that over achieved. I like to think that we are truly a contender and tonight starts the road back. But let's make these small changes that will erase the Kings advantages so far.

Let's Go Rangers!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Rangers Blow It in OT, Again

Before we go into panic mode here, after the Rangers blew two goal leads, three times, remember this. The only thing the LA Kings have done is hold serve. Yes, they are up two games to none. Yes, it's the third straight game they have wiped out two goal deficits. Yes. its the third straight OT win they have in these playoffs. But now the venue changes. Now it moves to the Garden. I know, the Kings are a great road team but they will be playing in front of a hostile crowd including the Pundit and number two son.

This was a great game and to be honest, the Rangers had no luck in this one. The opening King goal, which revived them was off of a turnover by Brad Richards, who was awful all night. He put a damper on his line all night. Martin St. Louis scored on a power play on a shot that was the goal of the night. In the end, Richards was on the ice losing key faceoffs. It definitely was not his night. He made his line ineffective. The other big turnover was by Ryan McDonagh which led to Gaborik's tying goal which sent the game into the first OT. McDonagh did score the opening goal, put up a ton of ice time, and generally played well.

 As so often happens in these big games the officials decided the outcome. King's goal early in the third was scored with Greene laying atop Lundqvist, making the score 4-3. Lundqvist argued to no avail. At the least the goal should have been waved off. Maybe in New York we get the call. Maybe.

The game was fairly even. The Kings out shot the Rangers 44-38. Hits were Rangers 51-50. Faceoffs was Kings 51%-49%. The stat with the biggest discrepancy was giveaways. The Kings gave it up 33 times and the Rangers 15 times. You would have thought the Rangers would take advantage of that but they didn't. Power plays were Rangers 1-5, Kings were `1-4. So close stats like that make it a fairly even game but then the refs blow one, at least, and it effects the game. And I think of all the commotion when Kreider 'accdently on purpose' hit Price. Back to the Garden. Time for the Rangers to step up and hold serve.

Friday, June 06, 2014

The Gangs Gotta Be All Here

Number two son just checked in from LA and informed me that the champagne is on ice in California. Its all over. Across the hockey world an assundry of so called experts. i.e. analysts, reporters, ex coaches, Pundits, not me guys, are all predicting doom and gloom. The LA Kings are officially anointed the greatest team that hockey has ever seen. They have size. Not since Goliath has there been such size. They have strength. Coimbination of Superman and Hercules. They have intelligence. Combination of Edison and Einstein. They can score goals. Only the combination of Wayne Gretsky and Gordie Howe have come close. And if you listen to the NBC analysts after Lundqvist had stopped 20 shots and his team put only three on LA in the third period, the LA goaltending surpasses the antics of Plante, Dryden and Roy by just showing up. So its all over. Call in the French to help us raise the white flag of surrender. But is it over? Those experts that I listed above all have ideas, which we have heard a couple of hundred times. Nash has to get going. St. Louis has to shoot more. Nash has to get going. Stepan has to hold on to the puck more and shoot. Nash has to get going. Pouliot has to stop taking stupid penalties. Nash has to get going. McDonagh has to get involved in the offense. Nash has to get going. Lundqvist has to step it up and stop being outplayed by his rival goaltender. That one was sent in by someone at Pilgrim State Hospital. And oh yes. Nash has to get going. My post's title refers to a great 20th Century Fox film in the 40's about a group of people involved in a couple of love triangles that get more complicated every minute in an hour and a half movie and then with the grace of Hollywood everyone pulls together in the last ten minutes, everyone finds the right partner and live happily ever after. The film stars the beautiful Alice Faye singing torch songs. She is aided by the dynamic Carmen Miranda with her tutti frutti hats rolls everyone over. Three great character actors, Edward Evert Horton, Eugene Pallette and Charlotte Greenwood are in the supporting cast and keep it light and lively. To top it off the number one band in the land Benny Goodman, knocks them out, as they say. So whats the point Pundit? Another trip down memory lane. Well, sorta. It goes back to what I have written many a time. The Rangers have to play a sixty minute hockey game. The gangs gotta pull together. The Gang is gotta show up. The Gangs All Here. While its sixty or 75 or 90 show up. Maybe you only get ten, ala Dorsett, then give it the best ten you have in you. Maybe its 27, Girardi. Then give it the best 27 you have in you. Whatever it is give it the full allotment of time. The Gangs All Here. Remember Dewey beat President Truman in the 1948 election. The USA hockey team was "steamrolled" by the Russian Army team in 1980. The Yankees had champaigne turn into seltzer water as the Red Sox won four straight after being down 0-3. Its only 0-1 folks. This is LA we are playing not the Canadiens of the 40's and 50's. We have a heck of a hockey team. We have the greatest goalie in the game. So show up Rangers. Show up as a team for 60 minutes. So maybe, maybe, we can get Nash going. See what happens when you get too much time on your hands. Lets Go Rangers. Usurp the Kings.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Rangers Give It Away

It was not a good night and a worse later night. First, the Rangers gave the LA Kings the opening game and then the computer was giving me fits. But computers get fixed and hopefully so do the Rangers. After all you only have seven games, now six, to win four games and the elusive Cup.

The Rangers started out like a house on fire scoring two goals in 1:43 on breakaways by Pouliot and Hagelin, Hagelin a shorthanded. Then they flamed out and did mostly nothing else. Oh, there was Boyle alone in front, but no cigar and it was all downhill from then. St. Louis was stopped on a breakaway and so was Hagelin. It seemed the only way the Rangers would score was on breakaways.

The Rangers were out shot 43-27 and out hit 45-33. So how come it was so close and I am saying we gave it away. Simple. Lundqvist. Henrik Lundqvist made 40 saves. In the third period the Rangers were out shot 20-3. Yes, no typo, 20-3. And there were the idiots on NBC extolling the great saves of Jonathan Quick, who made all of 25 saves. Lundqvist didn't even get an honorable mention in the stars of the game.

It was Dan Girardi who made the final gaffe that led to the winning goal. Maybe too much ice time, 27:25, maybe. Maybe it was Derek Stepan who insisted on not shooting the puck, one shot, no matter how close to the net he was. Maybe it was Rick Nash, again, who in big games continues to come up small. Maybe it was the power play with another 0-3 blanking.

Whatever it was it has to be fixed and fixed now. We can't go home down 2-0 with the hopes of rallying. The Kings are too good a team. They are good, big, tough and tonight lucky. So back to the drawing board, back to basics. Let's get that forecheck going and let's use our speed to our advantage.

ICINGS: Saddened by the death of a great sports person, Don Zimmer. Many years part of the Yankee success. Don was 83. Condolences and prayers to the Zimmer family.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Climbing Aboard the Rangers' Bandwagon

Nice job out of the Wall Street Journal and Melanie West for doing some investigative reporting and finding some true blue Rangers fans to help put this Stanley Cup Finals in perspective.


Rangers' Bandwagon Gets Crowded as Stanley Cup Finals Approaches -- Team's Unlikely March to Finals Has Swept Up a Crush of New Fans

"New York has taken on the aura of a small-town city, getting really wrapped up in their team," said Michael Savino, 83, of West Islip, N.Y. He has been a Rangers fan since 1938 and writes the Ranger Pundit blog.

He welcomes all the Johnny-come-lately fans. "The more, the merrier," he said.

The Rangers, Mr. Savino said, have always been one of the city's scrappiest teams in their 88 years.

"The rascals," he called them, "fighting their way to respectability." ...
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Rangerstown Hockey House - 33rd Street and 7th Ave
The Rangerstown Hockey House at MSG pulling in the fans
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Time to hurry up and play, before Hank's playoff beard turns full white and he starts looking like a Norse god instead of his normal Viking Kingship.

Newsday:
Watch Henrik Lundqvist's beard grow throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs

Henrik Lundqvist grows a playoff beard

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However, the bandwagon in Las Vegas is for the LA Kings, the bookies are all climbing aboard.

Sporting News:
Stanley Cup Finals odds – Vegas believes in Kings -- Bookmaker explains his pricing
With home-ice advantage when the series begins on Wednesday, the Kings are solid favorites to take home the Cup, priced at -165 at the LVH SuperBook. The Rangers are the +145 underdog.

“If the teams were equal, the home team would be about -130,” LVH manager Ed Salmons told The Linemakers on Sporting News, when asked to explain why he priced the series the way he did. “The Kings are going to be around -155 or -150 for Game 1. So the thought is the Kings are a bit better than the Rangers.”
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Kings -165
Rangers +145

What the above odds mean is that L.A. Kings bettors have to risk $165 to win $100, while NY Rangers bettors risk $100 to win $145.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Rangers To Lord It Over Kings

Well my prognosis went awry when the Kings stormed back to beat the Black Hawks in OT. I had it set up for an original six showdown for the Cup. So instead of the stock market vs the stock yards we have affable Alain Vigneault vs sad sack looking Darryl Sutter. OMG, does this guy ever smile? Granted he is no disagreeable, but the guy always looks like he is constipated.

This is the powerhouse LA Kings vs those Eastern Conference rascals, the New York Rangers. The Kings have the top point scorer in the playoffs, Anze Kopitar with 24 points. Then they have Gaborik, Williams and Doughty with 19, 18 and 16 before St. Louis and Stepan show up with 13 points each. Same thing with goals. Gaborik is the leader with 12, followed by Carter, Williams and Toffoli with 9, 7 and 7. St. Louis and Carl Hagelin have 6 goals each. So the power goes to the Kings.

Goalies is a different story. Lundqvist leads the playoff pack with .928 save %, has a 2.03 GAA and one shutout. Jonathan Quick, the Kings goalie has a .906 save % and a 2.86 GAA and one shutout. And therein lies the biggest difference. The King will lord it over the Kings.

Both teams have had dramatic wins in this playoff. The Kings came back from a 0-3 hole to sweep the Ducks in the opening round. The Rangers came back from a 1-3 hole to sweep the Pens out of the playoffs. The Kings last won the Cup in 2012. The Rangers last Cup was twenty years ago, 1994. The teams split two regular season games so the match should be a tossup.

I'm picking the Rangers in six, to hoist the Cup at the Garden before the faithful. Reader McPhilly wants to know if it is going to be Lambrusco or Chablis? Well, I am kind of a Cabernet type of guy, but I think for this occasion a nice cold brewski will do better. My favorite has always been a Bass Ale. However, for this occasion an American brew would be more appropriate. I like the Pennsylvania beer, Yuengling.  The local Brooklyn Ale might do it.

The Rangers have strong chemistry with this team. The St. Louis tragedy has united the team and after sitting out all of last year because of his wife's death, Dominic Moore is playing with a passion and a purpose not seen around here in a decade. I definitely see a resurgence in guys like Kaiser and Nash. So get it ready. Chill a couple of bottles of wine or cool a keg, either way the Rangers will hoist the Cup.

It says here, the Rangers in six. The Broadway parade will be headed by King Henrik and his entire crew before their adoring fans. And the peasants cheered. Go Rangers, beat the Kings.