Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Another Great Comeback Win

By now you have read all the stories about the big win last night. This is two big comebacks in the last three games. The first one was great, this one is unbelievable. Amazing when you think about it. Minnesota was 4-2-0 and had given up six goals in six games. Here they gave up five in one period. Actually five in 17'08. Poor Wild goalie, Darcy Kuemper, still don't know what hit. However, he knows his GAA has ballooned.

The pluses were many. Anthony Duclair, first goal of career, tying the game at 4-4. Mats Zuccarrello, his first of the year, and the game winner. Rick Nash, rolling along, with his ninth of the year. Kevin Klein, continuing his offensive surprise, his second, opening the Ranger scoring. Derick Brassard, scored his fourth, also continuing his fine offensive play.

The minuses were many also. John Moore faces a suspension for his high hit on Eric Haula. He deserves a suspension. Chris Kreider received a game suspension for his forecheck on Jonas Brodin, and may be spared a longer suspension. And how to explain the poor play for the first two periods? There have been too many poor starts. Are the coaches on their game? Can the coaches get this team up for a sixty minute game?

So now it is four days off before Winnipeg on Saturday and we still lack consistency on offense and defense. And that lack of consistency also affects the goaltending which has also lacked consistency. Plus, decisions are looming. Hold on to Duclair or send him back to Juniors? Resign Staal now or go to the end of the year with a guy whose head is not 100% in the game. It's early yet we don't want these issues to simmer. Fix them now and get this machine moving.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Revisiting The House of Horrors

I thought last year's big series win over the Canadiens would expel the demons from the House of Horrors, but I was wrong. So what else is new? Maybe it was the emotion of the moving ceremony before the game? Maybe it was the presence of Carey Price between the pipes? He is now 6-1-0 on the season and I believe 8-1 against thee Rangers. Maybe it is the fact that the Rangers are not there yet and that the loss of Stepan and Boyle are big factors in that. Whatever it is, the Rangers are not playing good hockey.

The crowd was big, as usual, and festive. They can be otherwise in defeat. Number two son was there, with three friends, courtesy of the Moulson's. He makes a couple of trips a year up there and I hesitate to blame him for the losses he seems to incur while up there. However, the Rangers did not play a very good game. Sure they outshot Montreal 35-30 but most of the meaningful play was in the Rangers zone, around Lundqvist.

The Rangers had no fore check, no sense of urgency and the coach reverted to that old bromide of constantly changing lines looking for the right combination. To get chemistry you need consistency. To get consistency you need familiarity. Stick with it. Stick with what worked before. Don't get helter skelter, change on the fly, pond hockey.

Much has been made of the poor play of Marc Staal. Solution. Sign him up to an extension before this season gets a day older. I've seen it before, players playing with other things on their mind. He is too important to the team to have him dangling. Wake up Stealth. You have all year to hibernate. Sign Staal now. Its still early, so lets clean up these little issues so we can concentrate on the big picture. The Stanley Cup.

ICINGS: The T/Birds won their second game of the season, 5-4, over E, Islip. Nicholas scored his first goal of the season on a blast from the point. The T/Birds are now 2-3. More good news. My eleven year old grand daughter, Allessandra, qualified for the junior Olympics in swimming. So Ole Gramps had a good week, despite the Rangers loss. But hang in there, it's still early.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rangers Comeback Win

Hockey is a long season, not as long as baseball, but still long. Baseball is so long a season it makes growing old seem like a cake walk. So in a long season you have some great games, good games, poor games, well, you get the idea. Sometimes you have it all in one game. Last night was one of those games. Heck, this could be a great year with more games like last night with the same results.

Krash Kreider got us on he board first with a power play goal, no less, the Rangers first in 18 attempts. Then that Old Devil, and I do mean old, Jaromir Jagr, tied it with his first of the year on a power play. The Devils liked this so much that they then scored the next two goals, Henrique and Merrill, on power plays, to take a 3-1 in the third.

The Rangers woke up with a little over ten minutes left in the game. If you don't wake up by then you are actually dead. It came with the help of the coach. Normally I don't like line changes in a game. Not excessive ones. But the coach made a big and game changing one. Chris Mueller, called up from Hartford  and playing on the fourth line was moved up to center Nash and Kreider. It paid off later with a power play goal, wow that's two, by Mueller to bring the Rangers within one. Five and a half minutes later, Nash tied it on a rebound off of Kevin Hayes. Nash's goal was his NHL leading 8th of the year. If Nash had been playing like this last year, the Cup banner would be in the Garden rafters. It's amazing what being a father can do to a man.

The game winner was a thing of joy, beauty, and grit. Kreider and Mueller sped out of the Rangers zone and caught the Devils, napping and confused. Kreider cut to the center, took two Devils with him, and fed Kevin Klein, who buried the game winner past Cory Schneider, no it's not Maaarty anymore. Klein's goal was the first goal scored by a Ranger D-man this year. So for the second game in a row a D-man has worn the Broadway Hat.

The Rangers are now off 'til Saturday when they play Le Habs in The House of Horrors. However, it is a long season and there will be many great, good, poor games. As Lou Costello said to Bud Abbot, 'sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.' The Rangers have now won three in a row. As our coach has stated, "never critique a win."

Monday, October 20, 2014

Close To Perfection

It would be hard to imagine the Rangers playing a more complete and satisfying game that they played yesterday afternoon, than the 4-0 win over a very good Sharks team. The Sharks came in tied for first in the Pacific with nine points and had shellacked the Devils the previous game and are considered a strong Stanley Cup contender. So what went right?

Everything. Lundqvist got his first shutout of the year, 51st of his career, and made 33 saves. The one he almost missed was saved by D-man Matt Hunwick, who cleared a teetering puck from the goal line early in the match that would have given the Sharks a 1-0 lead. Lundqvist was so impressed with Hunwick's effort he awarded him the Broadway Hat after the game.

It was a big night for firsts. First goal scorers were, Hagelin, St. Louis and rookie Kevin Hayes, who looks like he may blossom into a big contributor. The Rangers also set a franchise record by scoring two goals, St. Louis and Nash, in four seconds. Nash's goal was his 7th, becoming the first Ranger to score 5 goals in the season's first six games. Also, the Rangers have won 66 straight games when getting at least 4 goals. The last time the Rangers scored four goals and lost was 10/29/2011 in a 5-4 shootout loss to Ottawa.

Other good news. The Rangers were 41-21 on faceoffs. And guess what else? The coach basically stayed with the four line structure. Hayes centered Nash and Kreider. Brassard centered Zucarrello and St. Louis. Moore was moved up to the third line between Hagelin and the surprising Stempniak and Chris Mueller, promoted from Hartford centered the battering rams of Malone and Glass. Glass had six hits and Malone had five.

Anything go wrong? Yes, but minor. The power play was 0-1 and now is 0-17, the longest drought since 2003-04 that went 0-32. So we have a way to go, but as the coach is fond of saying, don't critique a win. Two big road games coming up at New Jersey and Montreal. Let's Go Rangers!

ICINGS: T/Birds were trounced 7-1 in their last game dropping them to 1-3. Still time to turn it around.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rangers Edge Canes in Shootout

I gave a sigh of relief when Nash scored the game winner in the shootout. Yeah, we won but now I could go to sleep and stop fighting it, watching a bad game between two mediocre teams. The Canes have not won a game this year and are 0-2-2. Of course they are playing without the Staal brothers, Eric and Jordan, plus Jeff Skinner, Patrick Dwyer and D-man Andrej Sekera, so their team is depleted. So what's the Rangers excuse?

The Ranger coach reverted to the tactics of his predecessors, with many line changes, some even on the fly, so it was difficult to tell who was playing with whom. Sam and Joe did a good job keeping us updated. They also did an admirable job making a poor game sound interesting. Reminded me of the 'old days' when Yankee announcer Mel Allen had the Yankees making all those great catches and hitting all those bullets, all on the radio. Then we went to TV and saw that most of the stuff was ordinary. But I digress.

However, both goalies were good. Lundqvist made 29 saves and the Cane goalie, Anton Khudobin made 33. Carolina was 0-3 on the power play, the Rangers were 0-5. For the season the Rangers are 0-16. The crowd booed the Rangers after the second period. Sam and Joe didn't mention that. Only good news folks.

But we have seen this act before. Last year we started 3-6 before turning it around. So we keep the faith and wait for the turnaround. However, it would be good to play a good game. We have had one this year and one of five is not good. Let's get it together boys. Maybe the coach had it right after the game, "Don't critique a win."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What's Really Going On In Rangerland?

First, an apology for posting so late after a big rivalry game. At least it used to be called a big rivalry game. So a close 2-2 game after two periods explodes into a 6-3 Islander win as they scored four goals in the third period. This is the second straight game in which the Rangers, and Henrik Lundqvist have given up six goals in a game.

The reason for the lateness is that I had a colonoscopy this morning. After seeing the third period last night, I vote for the colonoscopy. Yes, the defense was bad. Two huge turnovers by D-man Mike Kostka didn't help, but you usually expect Lundqvist to save the D-men from harm.

Now the Rangers have some serious problems. Number one center Stepan is out with a broken leg for at least another 8-10 games. Dan Boyle, number two pair with Staal, and hope for the power play point is out for 4-6 weeks. And Staal who is playing under par also has issues, fortunately not physical. Staal is playing with a new partner every night. Also, he is a free agent after this year and the Rangers should sign him up now and not wait til the end of the year when he will surely bolt to his brothers in Carolina. Sign him up and relieve his anxiety.

While the Rangers have found a replacement for Stepan, Martin St. Louis, they still have a hole at center. So far, they have found no replacement for Dan Boyle. Without a Boyle replacement the pressure is on Staal and Girardi and McDonagh. More ice time, more tired, more mistakes.

As for Lundqvist, I recommended in my last post that he sits against the Islanders. This was no stab in the dark. Records show that Henrik endures these slumps a couple times of the year. He bounces back best when given a game off to watch, reflect and calm down. The guy puts too much pressure on himself and sometimes over reacts.

There was some good news, however small. Nash scored two goals, (5) and (6) and Ryan Malone was finally inserted into a game and showed the coach, team and fans what he could do. In 11:39 of ice time he had two shots, five hits, was a force on the power play which was 0=3. As I have said previously, it's too early to panic, but it's not too early not to be concerned.

ICINGS: I didn't mean to make light of the colonoscopy, but if you are 40 or over I recommend you make an appointment with your gastro doctor and get a checkup. Colon cancer is the largest killer in men. However, get it checked early and it will be corrected. Trust me, I speak from experience.

Monday, October 13, 2014

What's Going On?

So it was a banner raising night. A new Captain. An SRO crowd with celebrities like Tom Hanks and number two son and poof, we lay a giant egg, embarrassing ourselves and the fans, What went wrong? Everything. After a fairly even first period that ended 1-1 with a beautiful tying goal by Nash (4), off a great feed by St. Louis, it all went south.

The second period was about as bad a period the Rangers have had in moons. Outscored 5-1, out shot 19-12, and out hustled by miles, the team looked disinterested and disoriented. The five goal out burst was interrupted by Stempniak's unassisted goal. Before the period ended we were treated to the ultimate indignity. Henrik Lundqvist, the King, was pulled at the 15:31 mark. He faced 24 shots and gave up six goals. Cam Talbot came in faced 12 shots and made 12 saves. The only positive thing of the night.

It was a complete debacle and I am at a loss to explain it and would like to just write it off as a bad game and let it go. However, Saturday night was also a bad game and that raises the prospect of maybe we are not as good as I thought we would be. The old bugaboo, the power play, was 0-2. The penalty kill that was 9-9 in the first two games was 2-4. Not a good sign.

The Islanders, 2-0, and red hot, are coming in Tuesday and maybe another critical test this early in the season. Go with Talbot after a hot third period and give Lundqvist the night off to clear his head? Or come back with the King who will be looking for redemption? I say go with Talbot and rest Lundqvist. However, if we don't improve our play it wouldn't matter who is in the nets. So let's give it another day and see if it gets better. It's too early to panic.

ICINGS:

Congratulations!

Tweet from Larry Brooks...
 ·  1:45pm

It's a boy for Jessica and Rick Nash!

Now where can you find toughness and intensity?

 retweeted

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blue Jackets Wack Rangers

The bad news was the Rangers got clobbered, 5-2, by the Blue Jackets. The good news. It's only the second game of the season. The game brought up the Rangers team biggest weakness. Toughness. Actually the lack of toughness. The goaltending is good, despite Cam Talbot's off night. The defense is good but it lacks a tough D-man, ala, Jeff Beukaboom, who kept the opposing forwards honest. Even a Bill Moe would help, but I'm biased.

I saw an article that said the coach, Vigneault, didn't know what to do with Ryan Malone. I have an idea for him, Play him. Play him on one of the top three lines. Play him to protect our skill players. Don't play him on the fourth line for 5-7 minutes, get into a fabricated fight and sit on the bench for most of the game. Put him on with Brassard and Zuccarello. Send a message that our skill players will be protected.

Defense is another story. There is no tough D-man in the Ranger system unless we have one in Jackass Flats, Utah. So go out and get one. Any ideas? The Blue Jackets manhandled the Rangers. The box score says they out hit us 29-28. Huh? Some of our hits most have been on the babes in the rows behind the bench.

There was good news. Anthony "Duke" Duclair picked up two assists and Nash scored his third goal in two games. Supposedly we out shot Columbus 26-24, but they must have counted the shots the Rangers had in the bar before the game.

Like I said before it was only the second game. Tonight it's the Garden opener against fellow original six foe, Toronto Maple Leafs. They will raise the Eastern Conference Banner and then we will see if the "toughness" issue gets worse, improves or we need help. One way or another it should be a good night

Let's go Rangers!

ICINGS: T/Birds won their first game of the year, 6-3. They have played three straight tough games and are now 1-2. Keep plugging guys.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Nash And Krash

My mother had a saying, actually she had many, and one of them was, "When one door closes, another door opens." The closed door was Derek Stepan's injury. No problem. The door opened and in skated ole vet, Martin St. Louis, and flanked by Rick Nash and Chris Kreider, led the Rangers to an opening night win, 3-2, over a tough St. Louis Blues team. St. Louis had two assists, Nash, two goals and one assist and Kreider had a goal and an assist. Not bad for a patchwork line.

Meanwhile, another door closed with the loss of Dan Boyle due to a broken hand, blocking a shot, and he will miss 4-6 weeks. The Rangers recalled Michael Kostka from Hartford and he will compete with Matt Hunwick for the sixth spot. "One door closes, another door opens."

Nash scored the opening goal to give the Rangers the lead and then scored the last with 1:50 to play in the game. Sandwiched in between was Kreider's breakaway goal on a nifty feed from Nash. Prior to Nash's game winner, Zuccarrello was called for tripping with 5:34 left to play. Here is where Lundqvist shone, stopping three power play shots.

So now it's on to Columbus where Nash will meet up with old friends and hopefully keep it going. Cam Talbot might be in the nets and we will see how wide open that door gets with Dan Boyle's replacement. "One door closes, another door opens."

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Rangers celebrate goal score versus St. Louis

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Rangers Ready to Rock n Roll

The Rangers prepare to open their 89th season with more optimism than any season since 1995-96, following their first Cup in 54 years. Buoyed by their strong run last year, the Rangers are poised to take it all the way this year and hoist the coveted Cup at the Garden.

A combination of veterans and young prospects are the reasons for the great optimism. The Rangers have never had quite the number of young guns that are primed to make the Rangers a quicker, more explosive team. Anthony "Duke" Duclair, Jesper Fast, Kevin Hayes, JT Miller, plus Kreider, Hagelin and Zuccarrelo add speed and juice to the veterans. St. Louis should profit from a full season and hope springs eternal that Rick Nash will resurrect himself.

Of course we have the biggest money goalie in the NHL, Henrik Lundqvist, and a great backup in Cam Talbot. The defense is solid and while Stralman is a loss I believe Dan Boyle would add offense to the power play and as Marc Staal's partner. Staal becomes a free agent after this year and we should sign him before he jumps to his brothers in Carolina.

Congrats to Ryan McDonagh on his Captaincy as he anchors a solid defense that could well be the best in the NHL. I look for the Rangers to make strong runs at the top spot in the Metro and the Stanley Cup.

Let's Go Rangers!

ICINGS: The T/Birds have lost their first two games of the season by 4-3 scores. Nicholas is now firmly entrenched as a defenseman and his play has been solid. Its a long season and we look for a rebound. Lets Go T/Birds!