Sunday, November 30, 2014

Philly Cheese Steaks

It's hard to believe that the Flyers actually led this game. That was when Voracek scored his 9th of the year, a power play goal, at 8:45 of the second period to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead. Less than three minutes later Jasper Fast scored his first of the year and then it became all Rangers.

JT Miller, back from purgatory, scored his first of the year and both Miller and Fast picked up assists on each others goals.  The Rangers have now won four of five and three of these have been against the Flyers. The cup cake schedule ends Monday against the Lightning who have beaten us twice. Could it be that we are Tampa Bay's cup cakes?

Tampa Bay is tied with Montreal for first in the Atlantic with 34 points. The Pens and the Isles are atop the Metro at 34 points also. The Rangers sit at 26 points, two ahead of the Caps in the Metro and 8th overall in the East.  The game was a nondescript type game and if not for the play of the two rookies and D-man Klein might have turned into an embarrassing loss. It's good to see Miller back and playing on the wing. Also, good to see Fast light the bulb. Along with Dominic Moore they make up a potent fourth line. Klein continues to be a revelation with his solid play. That was one helluva trade  The Stealth pulled off. So now back to the serious part of the schedule. Time to make a move now otherwise it is spending the winter in a dog fight with the dregs and bottom feeders. The December points are just as crucial as February and March.

Friday, November 28, 2014

ST. Louis Hits Milestone vs Flyers

Marty St. Louis may have bombed in Tampa but he sure soared today in Philly. And what better place to soar and get the 1,000 point of his Hall of Fame career against Flyer fans, perhaps the most anti-Ranger fans in the NHL.

It's always good to beat the Flyers and especially good to beat them in Philly. My old buddy "The Dark Ranger" would have enjoyed this one. I can see him sitting in the midst of a throng of Flyer fans jumping up from his seat with each Ranger goal. But I digress. St. Louis was the star, the hero. Oh, he had help. Cam Talbot pitched another shut out against the Flyers and its 8-5 that he starts against them tomorrow afternoon at the Garden. St. Louis set up Boyle for the first, a PP goal and scored the second to get the 1,000 point of his career. His goal, the 8th in 12 games continues his hot streak that was temporarily disrupted in Tampa Bay. Rick Nash put in his 16th, on a short handed three on one by the Rangers. Flyer goalie Steve Mason seemed confused by it all.

In fact, the Broad Street bullies seemed quite docile. They are a far cry from their management. Their coach, Craig Berube, has the most fighting majors of any player in the NHL and their GM, Hextall, was the most penalized goalie in the NHL. Bullies? Pussycats. These guys can't even score.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Cally Zaps Rangers-Again!

Well, I was wrong. I should know better after all these years. I honestly thought the Rangers would have a banner game after their two wins against a so-so Flyers team and a very good Montreal team. You would think that after close to 80 years of mostly frustrating, inconsistent hockey that I would smarten up. But I had hopes. I thought I had seen something in the last two games that would bode well for the rest of the year. But I was wrong.

The game was supposed to be a coronation of a legend returning to his former home and skating around the ice at the end of the game a hero. Instead he skated out early to acknowledge a video, wave to the crowd and greeted by an ovation and a scattering of boos. The hero, number one star, turned out to be old friend, new nemeses, Ryan Callahan, who scored two goals, again, to beat the Rangers. again. St. Louis didn't even get off a shot. Dan Boyle, the other returnee did better. In 24:49, team high, of ice team he scored his first goal of the year and was a plus two.

The other Ranger scorers were Zuccarrelo, (4) and Nash, (15). Unfortunately, both took stupid penalties in the first period which led to Tampa Bay power play goals . Instead of a Ranger 2-0 lead after one, it was tied 2-2. It was all downhill after that. So the win one, lose one Rangers are now at 9-8-4. That's about .500 to me. But what the hell do I know. I actually thought they were going to win and start rolling.

Anyhow it's Thanksgiving. Forget hockey and the Rangers for a while. This is a day for family, friends and a lot of good food. Enjoy the day and try to make someone else's day better. God bless you and your families. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Can Lightning Strike Twice?

There were no passengers against the Canadiens,, everyone was pulling an oar. My previous article stated that someone had to step up. Well just about everyone stepped up. Nash got his 14th goal. St.Louis scored his seventh in the last ten games, a high light film goal, stripping the puck from a D-man and beating the goalie. Dom Moore, Stepan and Hagelin joined the goal scoring party. Duclair had a beautiful assist and Lundqvist pitched a shutout.


This is a big game. The Rangers have won two straight shutouts and are primed to take revenge against Tampa Bay for last weeks debacle at MSG. Its time for the Rangers to make their move. Right now, all hands are on deck. The defense has been crisp and tough. McDonagh is about a game or two away from showing up. Klein's surprising offense, four goals, and his ability to drop the gloves when needed has been a revelation. A rarity for Ranger defensemen.


But the story tonight will be Marty St. Louis who was a big part of Tampa Bay for many years, including a Stanley Cup Championship. St. Louis has 998 career points and what a better way to go home and rack up a goal and an assist. to reach the magic 1,000 points. Who says you can't go home again?


So, its a big one. Lets hope the coach is as steady as the players and stays consistently with the lines. Can Lightning strike twice? It says here, no. The Rangers will bounce back and win and reestablish themselves as bona fide contenders. The Turkeys are for Thursday, not tonight.


Happy Thanksgiving folks!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cam Steps Up To Rescue Rangers

The other day I mentioned that it was time for someone on the Rangers to step up and I mentioned two in particular, St. Louis and Nash. Well Nash scored a goal off a beautiful feed by St. Louis as the Rangers won 2-0 over the Flyers last night at the Garden. However, the guy who truly stepped up was sub goalie Cam Talbot who posted his first win and shutout of the year. Talbot made 31 saves in outdueling Flyer goalie Steve Mason who had 32 saves. The goalies put on a good show with several big saves.

The Flyers, another poor Metro team, were the perfect remedy for a drifting Ranger team. This was the Rangers ninth straight win over the Flyers at MSG. The Rangers are now in third place in the Metro one point ahead of Washington and seven in front of last place Columbus. It should be a thriller the rest of the way.

This was Talbot's fourth start, (1-2-1), which is about one fourth of the games played. It might be a good idea  to give him more net time early in the season so as to have a rested Lundqvist down the stretch. Chances are Lundqvist will be in the nets Sunday against Montreal at MSG as tomorrows night game at Buffalo has been cancelled due to the massive storm that hit upstate New York.  Global warming will do that.

Anyhow, a win is a win. As the coach says, "don't critique a win."  We need a few more guys to step up. Right now the Rangers have too many passengers. We need more workers.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's Really Getting Late Early For Rangers

Tonight at the Garden the struggling Rangers try to retain to form, whatever that is these days, against the struggling Flyers. The Rangers (7-7-4) and the Flyers (7-7-2)  are both mired in a funk, playing listless, unexciting hockey. In fact if you watched the latest debacle against the Lightning you wonder if the Rangers have any idea what consistent, sixty minute hockey is. If you were brave enough and rich enough to go to the Lightning game you probably saw the Rangers play less than five minutes of any hockey.

The telling thing to me was the interview Martin St. Louis had with a reporter. Marty was totally embarrassed by the Ranger performance and it showed. Something is wrong here and it lies with the coaching staff and especially head coach, Vigneault to straighten the ship out. With one fifth of the season gone the Rangers are in a dogfight with five other teams in the Metro. Sure it's early, but bad habits are formed early and are hard to repair.

Yes, the Lightning are good but did anyone notice how the Islanders completely out played them last night?  The Rangers are inconsistent. Lundqvist has mentioned this many times about how the Rangers play. Right now the team is leaderless. The coach can't get the team to play sixty minute hockey. Also, there is no leader on the ice. When Callahan left, Richards took over the reins. Now, no one has stepped up.

It's time for St. Louis or Nash to take over the team. Maybe when McDonagh comes back it will be him but he has shown little leadership so far. Maybe it's time to make a change and make Lundqqvist the Captain, He surely is the leader but doesn't a goalie have enough to do without adding further burdens to his duties? Let's see what the response is tonight.

ICINGS: Now they tell us. Take a look at the blog Blue Line Station where the NHL admits a goof in the Rangers-Kings finals. No kidding.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lou Costello Was Right

Lou Costello would have loved last nights game. You remember his comment while shooting craps in the movie, "Buck Privates." "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose." Well last night the Rangers did both. In another shootout loss, their fourth straight, the Rangers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. After Dan Boyle scored the "winner" the refs called everyone back from the locker rooms because Dan had hit a "double", two shots to get the goal. A no, no.

The Pens won it when Brandon Sutter put one past Lundqvist to give the Pens the two points. There was a time when the Rangers relished a shootout. Lundqvist was unstoppable. Now the shooters have figured him out and the shootout is not a Ranger strength. You know what I think of shootouts so don't get me started.

It was a feisty game as these two teams clearly do not like each other. Malkin put a thunderous check, legal, into Giradi with a little over six minutes left in the third period. Girardi left the ice but Dandy Dan, the Iron Man, returned to play in the OT. So the Rangers are now (3-3-4), losers of seven of their last ten.

For the third straight game Anthony Duclair sat. Pray tell me what is this 19 year old learning sitting on the bench, watching the Rangers floundering? He sat in favor of Jesper Fast, a nice kid, but all defense. Just what the Rangers need, another defensive specialist. On to the next shootout!

ICINGS: The T/Birds had a rough week. Two games, two losses. A 9-1 drubbing by Smithtown and a more competitive loss, 8-5 to St. John's. Still time to turn it around.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Shootout Loss to Lowly Avs

Alain Vigneault has some serious problems. No, it's not that he chose to go second in the shootout. Doesn't matter, first or second, it's still stupid. Shootouts have nothing to do with hockey, it's a skill event. How good is the shooter, how good is the goalie. No impediments, no obstacles, maybe the pipes. No, AV's problem is how to get his team, the Rangers, to play consistent hockey. Right now the Rangers are a boring, listless team to watch. They are 7-6-3. Seventeen points in sixteen games. Wow!

The Rangers have no leader on the ice. No guy to grab his teammates by their collective throats and say let's go. Oh, you might say that the leader is Lundqvist. I might agree but Henrik is the goalie and the goalie has his mind on other things while the game is going on. Like stopping the puck. You would think that guys like Nash and St. Louis or Staal would step up. But no one has. Maybe one of the young guys like Kreider or Brassard. Maybe.

Dan Boyle came back and as expected played a so so game. His power play prowess didn't come into play as the Rangers were 0-3 on the power play. Another problem AV hasn't fixed. So what else is new. Another thing. He sat Anthony Duclair, again and played Jesper Fast. Now Fast is a nice young kid, but he basically is a defensive type player. Duclair has a big potential. Shouldn't he be playing now in these early season games? Who knows, he may become the leader the Rangers so desperately need. "And a child shall lead them."

The game? Oh yes. The Rangers blew another third period lead, their fourth in the last six games, to lose to the lowly Av's 4-3. These are the same AV's who lost to the Islanders 6-0 on Tuesday. They beat the Rangers. The same Rangers who blew out the Pens 5-0 on Tuesday. Hockey! Go figure.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rangers Stun Penguins

Hockey! Go figure. Here were the Rangers coming off a lost weekend, floundering at 2-3-2, completely disorganized, missing key players and what happens? They stun the Perns 5-0. The Pens! Coming in, the Penguins had seven straight wins, outscoring their opponents 32-8, having not allowed a power play goal against them in 17 chances 5-0-1 on the road, first in the Metro with 21 points, looking for revenge from last years playoff and brimming with confidence and heading for a fall.

The Garden brass put on quite a pre-game show honoring our heroic veterans, past and present. It was truly inspiring. The Rangers out did them. They put on a show that was completely stunning. Can't use that word enough. In a span of 6:24 of the first period the Rangers scored three goals to take a 3-0 lead. Bam! Bam! Bam! Zuccarello, (3), St. Louis, (5), and Klein, (3). Talk about Shock and Awe. Brassard, (6), then added a power play goal and Nash, (12) closed it out with a short handed goal. The only thing missing was a good old fashioned fight.

Henrik Lundqvist made 33 saves in getting his 3rd shutout of the season and the 53rd of his career. He has a 1.74 and a save % of .950 in his last nine games. He owes part of his shutout to Tanner Glass for saving a puck on the goal line. The coach even chipped in, basically staying with the four line combinations throughout. Low ice man was Kevin Hayes 12:08. High man was Derek Stepan, 16:37. Good job coach.

At the end, Lundqvist summed it up best. "In this league it's not about being great all the time. It's about being consistent."  Last night the coach was consistent, the players were consistent and it showed in a great win and a great night honoring our veterans. Shock and Awe!

ICINGS: This Veterans Day was a reminder for me that in January I will have celebrated sixty years since my discharge from the USAF. So allow me a moment to reflect and God Bless all the Veterans, past and present, deceased and living and God Bless America!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Five Hundred and Sinking

It was hard to imagine the Rangers playing a worse game Sunday than they did Saturday , but they did. After a poor defensive performance against the Leafs, they didn't even show up against the Oilers. The Oilers are at the bottom of the Pacific, so the loss was inexcusable. However, the way the Rangers are playing they would be in trouble against any AHL team.

So what is going on here? Can anybody play this game? All along I have been optimistic about the team but optimism goes only so far. Sure, key pieces are missing and as they come back it takes a while to fit in. But what are the other twenty guys doing? Here we are fourteen games into the season and what are we? 6-6-2. And sinking. The last four games have been dreadful. The last seven is 2-3-2. Not good.

Last night's game was simple. No one showed up. The Oilers out shot us 33-21. Twenty one shots against the team that has the worst GAA in the Western Conference. In fact it's the second worse in the whole NHL. The worst is the Sabres.

This week is three games, two against the Penguins. It's time to wake up. It's time for the coaches to step it up a bit also. I know its too early to think about the standings. But think of this. The Islanders are second in the Metro with 18 points. We are tied for fifth with the Devils. Both outside the playoffs. Now that alone should wake this team up. It's never too early to get excited about a playoff position. Yogi was right.



Sunday, November 09, 2014

Giveaway Night In Canada

It was exciting to see Stepan come back and with Kreider and Zuccarrello spark the Rangers, but it wasn't exciting to see the Rangers give the game away. Actually, despite the loss, I liked the game, it was entertaining. It did keep me away from the football games, which are outstanding. However, and why is there always a however, the Rangers were a little sloppy, hence the loss. The Rangers were headed for their fourth straight OT until a soft pass, this is a family blog so I won't say what I really want to say.

We have a thing, my grandson and me. Usually before his games I text, "Remember, skate hard and have fun." He usually does. However, there we go again, there were other instructions and they were from the great Ray Bourque. "Skate hard, pass hard and shoot hard." Matt Hunwick threw a pass that a little leaguer would not attempt. I won't get on Hunwick's case because other Rangers weren't too good either. Cam Talbot, in goal, could have been a little sharper, crisper, but the kid needs more work and with Lundqvist going good it's doubtful he will get more time.

So now, all of a sudden, we are seven points behind the Pens and the two games against them next week, Tuesday at MSG, and Saturday at Pittsburgh loom large. You are right Yogi. "It's getting late early."  However, the Rangers are slowly getting whole. Stepan is back, Boyle is coming soon and so is John Moore. So why are the Rangers toying with the idea of signing Tomas Kaberle? The guy is 36 and was a so so D-man, so why the interest? Go back to sleep Stealth and leave the team alone.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Brassard Breaks the Streak

The Rangers looked like they were headed toward their third straight shootout and quite possibly their third straight loss until Derek Brassard banged in a gimmee rebound on a power play 1:50 into the OT and the Rangers beat the Red Wings 4-3. Power play goals were the thing last night as the Red Wings were 2-5, including the game tying goal with 7.7 seconds left in the game. The Rangers were 2-3, a reversal of their misfortunes.

Other Rangers scorers were Nash, 10, St. Louis, 4, and Stempniak, 3. Three stars were Nash, Hunwick and Brassard. How about Matt Hunwick, number two star? He had two assists and played a strong game. As I stated recently the defense injuries have given new guys a chance and Matt Hunwick has taken advantage and played well. It bodes well as the season progresses.

The injury situation improved as Kevin Klein and Mats Zuccarrello returned. It's reported that Dan Boyle is skating and starting to use his hand with passing and shooting, The season is still young and the Rangers are only three points behind first place Pittsburgh in the Metro.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Blanked!!

The Rangers lost a game last night, gained a point but more importantly lost two D-men to injuries, one of which could be catastrophic. First, the Rangers went to a shootout and lost it in the fourth round 2-1, thereby losing the game 1-0. Lundqvist was credited with his 52nd career shutout. Ondrej Pavelec made 38 saves to pick up the win for the Jets. The Rangers power play woes continued going 0-5. Do you really believe one guy, Dan Boyle, could fix this?

First Klein went out in the first after being hit in the foot by a Jacob Trouba shot off his foot. He is listed as day to day. Then it was McDonagh hit by a clean, but hard check by Evander Kane and suffering a shoulder separation. He's out indefinitely. The good news on all this was that the remaining four defensemen played very well. Matt Hunwick logged 27:58 and Mike Kostka 21:56. Dan Girardi logged a season high 34:50. So the good news is that the Rangers will have great depth on defense when all will be healthy.

I'll be honest, I struggled to stay with the game. It wasn't exciting and there were two big SEC football games going on. I did catch the end of both, thrillers won by Mississippi State and Auburn. There are many sports going on right now and you look for the most entertaining. Except for a few bursts there are not too many enjoyable Ranger games. How do you score five goals in one period one night and come back the next game totally powerless?

So it's St. Louis tomorrow night and it will be interesting to see who the Rangers bring up for the defense. For now, we know that Hunwick and Kostka can do their job when called on.

ICINGS: Say a prayer for Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe who suffered a stroke this past week. He is legendary, was always a fighter and now at 86 years old is putting up the biggest fight of his life. Let's give him a hand with our prayers. Get well Gordie.