Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas

Well Santa delivered the Rangers a nice Christmas present and the Rangers almost blew it. The present? The Anaheim Ducks, the worst team in the Western Conference and the second worst team in the NHL. The Rangers won in OT, 3-2, on a power play goal by Mats Zuccarello.

But it wasn't easy. The Rangers were playing rope-a-dope with a one goal lead in the third period when the Ducks tied it with a little over two minutes to go. When you are the Rangers nothing comes easy. However, as the coach often states, "never critique a win." So the Rangers go into the Christmas mini break with a win, feeling a little better about themselvers, but they still have mucho problems.

Hopefully, the return of Klein and Girardi will bolster the D, but what or rather who is going to get the offense going? Nash? Kreider? Right now its the Zucc and Brassy show. But there is still time and maybe Santa will have a surprise in the Ranger stockings. Hope they are large.

But it's Christmas. Forget hockey and spend time with your family and loved ones. Merry Christmas to all out there in Rangerland.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

No Miracle On 34th Street

Coincidence? While the Rangers were on Sunday night the Sundance Chanel  was running back to back the great Christmas Classic, "The Miracle on 34th Street." What a great Christmas movie. And then there were the Rangers giving their best performance of "Disaster on 34th Street." Folks, this is no longer a slide, it's a landslide.

How bad is it? It's now 3-9-2 in the last 14. Eleven losses in fourteen games. Lundqvist was pulled for the second game in a row, the third time this season. The Caps blasted us 7-3 and they look to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. We are playing like the worst team in the conference.

Tonight a chance at redemption. The Ducks come in with old friend Carl Hagelin. The speedy Swede may be a tad too fast for our aging and hurting D-men but it's amazing what a couple of hard hit checks can do to a speedy forward. Do we still have guys who could administer those shots?

Anyway, we are getting close to the magical season, Christmas. Yesterday was my birthday and we had a jolly day with my clan. Mucho fun, a lot of food and plenty of noise. That's the way it should be at 85. Now maybe tonight the Rangers will give me a belated birthday present. That would be nice. Maybe I'm asking for another miracle. Hope springs eternal.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Rangers In A Deep Funk

Well it is time to be concerned, a lot. The Caps tonight at the Garden and the Rangers are falling fast with a 3-8-2 slide. What's wrong? Everything. Nothing is working well including and especially the goaltending. Lundqvist is slumping, 5-5-1, and the backup Raanta is hurt and with head shots it could be a long one.

The top line is sorta topless. It's nothing new with Nash, but now Brassard and Zuccarello are starting to play listless. I guess it's contagious. The blame stream media is on Kevin Hayes's case like he is the sole culprit, but I think not. He's a kid. He's only a sophomore. Maybe if the coach had left him in his center position with the same two line mates he may find his game.

Injuries have hurt and they are big ones. Stepan, Klein and now Girardi. Stoll didn't work out well and did we really have to get rid of Hagelin? He was a fun, good guy to watch with a lot of speed and grit. So what do we do now? Where do we go from here?

We go to the coaches, especially the head coach. Its time for "two point Alain" to step up to the plate, or bar or whatever gets him going. As Yogi would say, "it's getting late, early." Tonight would be a good start. The first place, Metro, Caps are in town, and Alex the Great is with them and they are good and tough. Its time to get back to basics.

When all else fails, go defense. Tight checking, small gaps between the forwards and D-men, clear the crease and fore check like hell. Keep it simple but like I tell my grandson, skate hard and have fun. Oh yes, and win. Tonight is gut check night. Lets see how the team and the coach react.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Rangers Funk, Now A Slide

The Ranger funk is now a slide, 2-6-2, a slide that could easily turn into a tail spin. Has the loss of Stepan and Klein caused this? If you saw any of the previous three western Canada games, as I did, you saw a little bit of everything bad. No show and listless in the Vancouver game, poor team defense vs Edmonton and Calgary, plus a pulled goalie against the Oilers.

Did I say poor coaching also? Of course when you play listless, who is too blame, but the coaching staff. When a defensive unit with the veterans the Rangers have play little league hockey where are the adjustments by the staff/ Did you see the minor league gaffes by Yandle and Girardi that led to Calgary goals? All signs of a team off their games, out of sync and in disarray.

The Rangers need to go back to basics. Tighten up the defense and stop the reckless pinching by the D-men. Stop juggling the lines during the game. Get a set group and stick with it. Put Kevin Hayes back at center and leave him there for an entire game. Give more ice time to Dominic Moore and the fourth line. Get back to tough fore checking and tight checking all over the ice.

Goaltending? It will straighten out. It usually does with Lundqvist in the net. But please, protect him from the clutter around the net. The D-men have to turn this slide around. Toughness, responsible puck control and protection of our goalie will turn this around. Of course the coaching staff may do nothing, but change the pieces around and then the slide will continue. Stay tuned, Christmas is coming.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Rangers End Funk, For Now

Well the Rangers ended their losing streak with a big win over a good Ottawa team. Now they go west for three games, where in the past they have done exceptionally well. This win was a testament to their defense, which played tight and tough, and to Ryan McDonagh with a goal and two assists.

However, reader McPhilly grabbed my attention the other day with his comments on how the Rangers fall into and out of sync many times over the years. Well think about it. Its a normal function for a team and an organization that is shaky. The Stealth, GM Glen Sather, spent thirteen years spending and drifting. Remember when, as Oiler GM, he said that if he had the Ranger money he would win the Cup every year. Duh!

But let's not blame just Sather. Since 1940 the Rangers have won one Cup. One Cup in 75 years. Wow! So there is more than one culprit in the Ranger body to blame for this. The Rangers are loaded with excellent Public Relations. They sing the organization's praises. Some praises. One Cup in 75 years. The worst performance of any of the Original Six.

So we load the rafters with players, who at best have won one Cup and leave out a guy like Frankie Boucher, who has three Cups to his credit.  And we bring to attention great players who have great stats but no big wins. We promote charities that help the unfortunate and that is good. However, we have a suffering fan base that pays a fortune in ticket prices and food and drink and the elusive Cup is no where in sight. No where.

I guess it's safe for me to say that in my remaining lifetime, I will not see another Cup. We are not tough enough to win another Cup. We can't beat the Canadiens and the Lightning. The Caps, Red Wings and Islanders are closing fast. Meanwhile, if you like hockey, enjoy the game. Looking for a championship, try another sport.  

Friday, December 04, 2015

Rangers In A Deep Funk

I guess it's all my fault. I went to my first game of the year and believed it would be a classic. Montreal, tops in the Atlantic versus Rangers, tops in the Metro. Original Six meeting. Packed house with plenty of Canadien fans in attendance. Everyone showed up except the Rangers. The Canadiens are contenders, the Rangers, pretenders.

Then the big bad Bruins. For the first time in ages the Rangers blew a third period lead. Then back to the Garden for a real stinker against the Flyers. Another no show by our guys. Thank goodness the Hurricanes showed up, but it wasn't easy. We turned a 4-1 lead into a 4-3 nail biter win. And then a bummer against the Avalanche, a 2-1 loss. Funny, before the game the homer boys were telling us how bad the goaltending for Colorado was. The goalie, Varlamov, was 49.5 seconds from a shutout

So the Rangers are 1-4-1 in the last six and the worst part is that they show no signs of life. They are listless. They come out in the first period of almost every game flat. They are also leaderless. Besides Lundqvist there is no one to pick up the team. Oscar Lindberg, who scored his 10th goal of the year, tied for rookie scoring, is a rookie who is doing very well. Who else? Nash? Brassard? McDonagh? Kreider? Where are they.

Kreider baffles me. When I attend a game I usually pick a player and watch him when he is on ice. Against Montreal I picked Kreider. There was an instance in the third period where he skated a 360 a couple times as if he was looking for his bearings. Krash looked lost. The Rangers look lost. They are sinking and there is no end in sight. The good news is the season is still young and thanks to their early season success the Rangers are tied with the Caps and are 17-7-3. The team needs to wake up. Where is the coach?

ICINGS: The T/Birds seem to be following the Rangers. In a battle for 4th, 5th place, the T/Birds wre beaten by Sachem 7-3. Maybe the boys are spending too much time watching the Rangers.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Bolts Jolt Blueshirts

Stupid me. All along I was worried how do we get by Carey Price and the Canadiens. Heck, we can't get by Ben Bishop and the Lightning. Last night, Bishop held us off in a 2-1 loss and his regular season record against us is now 9-0-0. His post season is not that bad either.

A botched power play, what a surprise, gave the Lightning the winning goal with 1:03 to go in the game. Dominic Moore tied the game in the third, his second of the year. So now the Rangers have an obstacle, to the north, the Canadiens, and Price. The obstacle to the South,, the Lightning and Bishop. Oh, did I forget the middle, The Caps and Alex the Great. Should be a tough ride. Time to toughen up.

ICINGS: I would like you to go to Bluecollar Blueshirts blog. Their objective is to get Frankie Boucher's sweater hung on the rafters. Great idea. It should have happened long ago. Ranger have won four Cups and Boucher was in on three of them. So go to the site, sign the petition and tell them the Pundit sent you. Go Frankie Go.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rangers Win 8th Straight in Shootout

Coming off their bar room brawl win over St. Louis the Rangers played a chess match game to beat Ottawa, number two in the Atlantic, 2-1, on a shootout goal by Dan Boyle in his hometown. It was the Rangers first win in a shootout and upped Lundqvist's  league leading record to 10-2-2. He is second to Reto Berra in save percentage, 953 vs .947 and second in GAA, 1.50 vs 1.69.

Lundqvist was voted the number one star, but for me the star of the game was Chris Kreider. He scored the only Ranger goal in regulation, a PP, his third. In the second period he went after Zack Smith, who had put a high hit on Derek Stepan. Kreider was given seventeen minutes in penalties, well worth it for beating up Smith. Stepan missed the rest of the second period but returned in the third. Well done Krash, you get five stars from the Pundit.

So now the Rangers have won a game every way except the three man OT. Probably saving it for the big showdown against Montreal next week. Also, nice gesture by the coach in putting Boyle out on the game winning shot in front of his hometown crowd. Who knows, it may fire Boyle up. The coach gets an atta boy from the Pundit.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Rangers in Seventh Heaven

The Rangers are rolling, winning their seventh straight game against a very good St. Louis team, 6-3. It was a heavyweight matchup with only a point separating the two teams before the match, The Rangers had six different goal scorers and eleven players picked up points.

But it wasn't easy. The Rangers led 3-0 in the first and then it was 3-2. Then 4-2 and real quick 4-3. Two goals in the third by the D iced the game, The goal scorers were Brassard (5), Zuccarello (8), Hayes (5), Miller (3), McDonagh (2) and an empty netter by Girardi (2). The Rangers chased goalie Allen in the first period with three goals on five shots. Elliott replaced him and gave up two goals on sixteen shots,

Though he gave up three goals Lundqvist was outstanding with 31 saves. No star of the game, no stick up in the stands, thank you. Zuccarello was number one star, Stepan two and Nash three. The Ranger are now 12-2-2 and trail Montreal by two points. It doesn't get easier as the next game is against the Ottawa Senators, second to the Canadiens,

As I stated before this was a heavyweight matchup. The action was fierce and feisty. The Rangers outhit the Blues 31-25. The crowd sure got their money's worth. It was hockey as it should be played. Grit, determination and a dislike for your opponent. Just think about it. Only 66 more games before the playoffs start. OMG!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veterans Day!

Sure there was the great debate, seven Republicans vs Trump. Yes, the Rangers won another game, their sixth straight, a Lundqvist gem, as he set new goalie standards. The news of the day is that today is Veterans Day. God Bless our veterans. God bless the families of those veterans who made the supreme sacrifice to ensure the freedom and liberties we all enjoy. God Bless our veterans and God Bless America.

The Rangers continue to roll. They got three shots in the first period and scored two goals. The other day they got two shots in a period and both were goals. So they are efficient. However, will this be successful against a team like the Canadiens? I keep mentioning the Canadiens because they will be the yardstick for the Rangers to measure themselves.

Forget the fact that the Rangers hardly win in Montreal. Forget the fact that goalie Carey Price is almost flawless against us. Just remember that if the Rangers want to win the Cup, they have to go through Montreal and Price, no easy feat. But the season is young and there is time. The Rangers need to toughen up, maybe not for the season, but definitely for the playoffs. Should be an interesting season as the Rangers chase Les Habs to the finish line.

ICINGS: The Pundit saw one hell of a game the other night as the T/Birds roared back in the last minute to pull out a 4-3 win over West Islip. The tying goal at the three minute mark was waived off, correctly, with three minutes left in the game. Undaunted, the T/Birds tied the game with 1:03 left in the game and won it with 49.7 seconds left. The T/Birds are now 5-4-1 and are in eight place.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Ranger Raanta Remarkable

Any fears that the loss of Cam Talbot would be devastating, are just about gone. Raanta is the real deal. He came within 4.8 seconds of recording his second shutout in winning his third game of the year, 4-1, over the hapless Coyotes. He made 39 saves, many brilliant, in leading the Blueshirts to their fifth straight win and first place in the Metro.

Other good news was the awakening of Kreider and JT Miller, each scoring their second goals of the year. The other goal scorers were Fast and Hayes and yes, Rick Nash was not missed as he sat out his second straight game with an injury.

The Rangers are chasing the Canadiens for first in the Eastern Conference and it looks like a long chase. Le Habs have put together a 50's style team with speed, power and toughness. The Rangers must toughen up to challenge Montreal and that is the challenge for the new GM.

Meanwhile enjoy this stretch. The Rangers are playing well, spearheaded by a strong defense with outstanding goaltending. But it's a long season and hopefully the defense will not wear down against the more physical teams in the league. There is time to correct that, but do it now from a position of strength, not weakness.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Rangers Keep Winning

You got to love these Rangers. They just keep winning, four straight, in unusual fashions. Blow out hi-powered Washington, 5-2 and squeaking by woeful Colorado, 2-1, in a game that Lundqvist had to make 13 saves in the third period. The other half of the Swedish Royal Family, Oscar Lindberg, scored the winning goal, his 7th, tops among all rookies in the NHL.


Lundqvist made 29 saves and the Rangers are almost unbeatable when taking a lead into the third period. Stepan scored the first goal, his 4th, on a power play no less. The Rangers were 1-2 on the pp, the Av's were 1-5. The Colorado goalie with the name of Berra, not Yogi, Reto, made 31 saves and plated well. Maybe its in the name.


The defense played well, with Girardi reunited with McDonagh, who picked up two assists. Mcllrath played in his third game and did nothing to hurt his chances. Maybe the rest will do Dan Boyle some good, maybe. Tonight its Phoenix and it should be an interesting match up between ex Ranger Duclair and ex Coyote Lindberg.


Let's Go Rangers.


ICINGS: The T/Birds snapped their mini losing streak with a 4-3 win over East Islip. They are back into a playoff spot. The Pundit will grace them with his presence tomorrow.
Let's Go T/Birds.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Rangers Retro

The Ranger Pundit has been out with some medical problems and therefore unable to post. Hope to return soon.

Meanwhile, the Rangers continue to play underwhelming and uninspired hockey, but continue to pile up the points. Never critique a win. They can't play sixty minute hockey, they are not a physical team and the coach would be more at home at a chess match rather than a hockey game.

However, the team does have grit and also has found another excellent back-up goalie. So we shall see and I shall see if I can return on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, let's Go Rangers!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Rangers Win Snoozer

Thank God Matt Harvey was at the game and introduced in the second period of last night's snoozer at the Garden. It was a boring, listless attempt of a hockey game and the standing O for Harvey perked up the building and maybe even the Rangers. They came out and scored three goals in the third period to earn the win 4-1, moving to 5-2-1, tops in the Metro.

Klas Dahlberg had given the Coyotes the lead as Lundqvist whiffed one and then Kreider crashed the net to tie it. The third period saw goals by Hayes, Yandle (pp), and Nash. Yes, Nash, who scored a goal without putting the puck in the net. He was hooked on a breakaway with the net empty. Only in the NHL folks, only in the NHL.

Lundqvist, after his gaffe, made 34 saves, many were highlights. Mike Smith, who usually gives the Rangers fits, had 24 saves. Max Domi, the son of Ranger favorite Ty Domi assisted on the 'Yotes first goal. Also, Anthony Duclair returned and was scoreless. He has 5 goals and 2 assists in 7 games. A great young player with a big future, for another team.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Rangers hit a new low, totally be-deviled

Sinatra had it right. Riding high in April, shot down in May. "That's Life" Ranger fans. Only its still October. First three games, 12 goal= three wins . Next three games, two goals=three losses. This last lost today was a stinker. The lowly Devils won their first game of the season in OT, 2-1 and to add insult to injury Lee Stempniak scored the winner. You remember Stempniak, he was last year's 8 minute man in the game, on the bench guy.

The Rangers jumped out to an early lead on Stepan's goal and the Rangers spent the rest of the game skating like they were auditioning for the ice follies at the Radio City ice rink, the coach, as usual looked befuddled after the game.  No answer. His only answer is to play Lundqvist every game and pray to the hockey gods that Rick Nash and Krash Kreider wake up from their early season siesta.

Of course playing Lundqvist every game is an easy call, if the season ends by Christmas, at this rate the backup, Raanta may get 8-10 games. Maybe he should be on the fourth line? Remember that the Rangers started slow last year before winning the President's Trophy. This coach is good at winning the Presidents Trophy, it's that other silver hardware that eludes him.

But it's early and there is lots of time left. However, the coach has to start looking at the bigger picture. And start coaching accordingly. Get the backup in, sit Boyle and play McIlrath. Put Hayes back at center on the third line. Stop tinkering and start to build chemistry on all the lines.

We have a new GM. He is no stealth. He won't go a full season with this performance. He won't tolerate another failed run. Wake up coach. Wake up Rangers.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Price is Right, Again

Well I said it, we should have started the back up goalie. Oh, Lundqvist played great, giving up 2 goals and making 29 saves, many sensational. But, he was up against the Canadiens at home and Carey Price in the nets. This is the 6th time in the last 10 games up there that the Rangers have been shut out. Price has shut out the Rangers seven times in 18 career starts. A toxic combination. House of Horrors indeed.

After a fast start the Rangers have lost two in a row. After scoring 12 goals in the first three games the Rangers have scored one goal in two losses. The coach keeps tinkering with the fourth line while his top nine forwards are shooting blanks. He keeps tinkering with the 8=10 minute guys while the 18-20 minute guys can't find the back of the net.

So it's the Devils on Sunday matinee and chances are we will see backup Anttt Raanta in goal but the main problem for the coach is whether its Stoll or Glass on the fourth line which will average about 8 minutes. Can't be too careful theses days.

ICINGS: The t/Birds tied their last game and are 2-2-1 in the early season.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Jets Stifle Raners

Well they say you can't win them all. and that is especially true in hockey, the NHL. You might pull it off in college football or college basketball and maybe once in a lifetime NFL, but never in the NHL.

Well the Rangers tried, at least a little. They fired forty one shots on goal. Zuccarello opened the scoring to put the Rangers up but that was it. The power play was 0-5. It seems we have had little power play success since this blog first started. The Rangers have yet to have a coach that makes the power play successful.

But that's not the reason the Rangers lost. They didn't lose, they were beaten. The Jets are a big, tough, physical team. The Rangers are not physical. they are tough. they are good. But they are not physical. Physical teams that are good, win Cups. The Chicago Black Hawks have won three Cups in six years, the closest to a dynasty. The Kings were good and physical.  Playing McIlrath once a week, for 10-12 minutes a game is not going to make the Rangers physical.

BTW, I understand Boyle will be back in the lineup when the Rangers visit The House of Horrors in Montreal Thursday. Will Lundqvist play his fifth straight game or will we see the backup. Considering how poorly we play in Montreal the backup might be a good idea. Well at least the Canadien owners are friendly people. That will buy you a Moley.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sweede sensations over Columbus, Rangers improve to 3-0

Opening night, 2015. The Pundit had the pleasure of sitting in the front row, thanks to number 2 son purchasing tickets via auction at the St Mary's Children's Hospital mixer. A great time was had interacting with what our left wing friends refer to as the 1%. They may be the 1% but they are quite a charitable and fun group of people, who treated us like Kings!  My lovely wife of 58 years joined in for the opening night festivities. So now the down and dirty.

The Rangers had a great weekend against a team picked by many to challenge for the eastern conference title. Two blitzes, one in each game did the Blue Jackets in. Trailing 2-1 with less than five minutes left in the game at Columbus, the Rangers led by swede rookie Lindbergh scored three goals in 77 seconds for a 4-2 win.

Opening night at the Garden, the Rangers, again were lead by Sweede, Oscar Lindbergh, who scored 2 goals in the Rangers 3 goal first period enroute to a 5-2 win over Columbus. Columbus which actually out played the Rangers for the final two periods, but the Rangers stood their ground because of the heroics of Lundqvist, "the king". How Sweede it is.

Lundqvist made 37 saves, at least three spectacular ones to hold Columbus at bay, leading the Rangers a 5-2 win, and a 3-0 start to the season. It matches the best start in recent years for the Rangers. The points in October are just as important as the ones in April and May. The Rangers had many opportunities to blow it open, including at least three breakaways plus a penalty shot.

While  unbeaten after three games, the Rangers have flaws, team toughness is lacking. We have a ton of finesse skaters, we need a few more bruisers who can also put the puck in the net. Maybe Kreider. Maybe Miller. We seem to lose out in some scrums, especially after the whistles. But that's for another day. Remember the coaches edict: never critique a win.

One sour note, that I have had to repeatedly call out, is the crowd behavior. Pre-game had the West Point choir singing the national anthem and the stupid crowd interrupting it with shouts and let's go Rangers. Young men and women serving their country, putting their lives on the line and many will sacrifice their lives deserve more respect as does our anthem. But it will never change, just as the stupid is the Potvin chants will continue long after Potvin leaves this earth. Oh well. Maybe I'm getting grumpier in my old age, but in a city where we were attacked on 9/11, and so many young men and women went off to battle, many to not return, can't we show some respect during the presentation of our colors?

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Lundqvist Shines in Opener

The Rangers were antsy and complaining. Poor guys had to wait almost forty minutes as the Chicago Black Hawks celebrated the winning of their third Cup in six years. Tough! The Black Hawks had all the right in the world to take all the time they wanted. If the Rangers didn't like it, too bad. Do something about it, like win the Cup. Win the Cup instead of folding like a cheap suit and being shut out in two games at the Garden in the Eastern finals.

The way the Rangers played against Chicago they should delay all the games forty minutes so they come out fired up. And fired up they did with a three goal outburst in the first period. Of course that led to the usual malaise in the second and third period, hanging on for dear life. But thank God for Henrik Lundqvist. Now how many times did I say that last year and how many more times will I say it this year?

Lundqvist was brilliant. He made 32 saves, 14 in the third period. It was his 10th opening night game. He may be aging, but like fine wine, he ages well. Its too early to get excited about a big one, but it does give an inkling of what kind of team the Rangers have. The young guys were good. Rookie Lindberg scored and JT Miller had two assists. Solid D-Man Klein put in a blast and the "old guy" Derek Stepan crashed the net for the winner. Good. Solid. Balanced.

So now it's on to tough Columbus and then home for the Garden opener. It will be a family festival of sorts. My wife and I will be going with number two son and grandson. Number one son will be going with his wife and family. So another opening night, the Rangers 90th, and the Pundits 78th. My, time flies when you are having fun. And fun it has been, despite the many frustrations and disappointments. But, you know what? It's only a hockey game. As I tell my grandson, skate hard and have fun. To the fans, root hard and have fun.

ICINGS: T/Birds off to a so-so start, splitting their first four games. T/Birds have to tighten their D if they hope to make the playoffs.

Monday, September 21, 2015

A New Beginning or SOS!

Well it's hockey time again. The T/Birds open their season tonight against Ward Melville and Nicholas coming off his winning the coveted T-Bird award will be playing his final High School season. It is a long way from when a four year-old stepped on the ice many years ago. Aah memories.

Meanwhile the Rangers open their exhibition season tonight against the Devils and I'm betting for another year of total frustration and the Pundit predicts another year without the Cup. The good news is The Stealth is gone and the bad news is that the coach Alain Vigneault is still around. This coach can't lead this team to the Cup. He is a reincarnation of Roger Nielson. Good regular season, bad playoffs.

To add further to the problem the Rangers got rid of super backup goalie Cam Talbot, who was magnificent in Lundqvist's absence last year. During the Kings absence Talbot was 16-4-3. He will be sorely missed. Maybe not by Lundqvist, but the fans and the team will. To replace him we have Anti Raanta. The good news is his record of 20-9-5 in two seasons with the Black Hawks. So it goes.

The Rangers will be starting their 89th season and I will start my 78th. I guess I will crack before they do. But I'm reminded of that old saying: Don't expect too much and you won't be disappointed.

Thursday night is the fifth annual Cocktails With A Cause, the charity run by number two son with his pals from Wall St. the One Percenters. It is to raise funds for St. Mary's Healthcare System for Children, located at 29-01 216th Street, Bayside, New York11360. The function will be Thursday, September 24 at Gansevort Hotel, 420 Park Avenue South, NYC starting at 5:30 PM. Tickets are  $200.00 per person. stmaryscocktails.org or call 7182818816. There will be celebrities to auction off many valuable items.

Some of the guests include actor Steve Baldwin, TV host Sandy Kenyon, Miss America and many surprises. Help the kids please. If you can't attend try to make a donation. No donation is too small. God bless you.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

R. I. P.

After it ended, number one son looked at me with that dazed look. "These are the Rangers," I said to him. No other explanation was necessary. Look it up. One Stanley Cup in 70 years. It's more years of mediocrity and frustration than there is in success. Think of a bigger game than this since that 1994 Cup and think about as dismal a performance as you saw last night.

Did anyone besides Henrik Lundqvist show up? Possibly Ryan McDonagh with a broken bone in his foot. You would think that would have stirred the troops. Nada. How could that have stirred the troops? Did you see the coach?  Did you see his press conference? It was no big deal, just another game. The guy was again outcoached. He should be fired. Isn't there a guy out there who fits between this guy and Tortorella?

Also, I think it is time the Stealth retired. Let him win the GM of the year award and then send him back to Edmonton. We need youth in the GM and coaches spot. We need new ideas from the GM and we need a coach who can be flexible on the fly and be one step ahead, not behind, his coaching rival.

There was the blabber after the game from analysts and talk show hosts how the Rangers are a player or two away from a championship team. Hey, didn't we do that recently? Isn't Nash the scorer we desperately needed and wasn't Yandle the power play specialist who would lead us to the promised land? And wasn't St. Louis the seasoned vet, with a Cup, supposed to be our guiding light? I thought that this was the championship team.

BTW, if any of these comments are new to any of you, go back in the files, go back over the seasons and you will see it's the same old shit. It is always we need one or two guys, then we get them, and then it's the same. It's in the genes and basically comes from the top. How do you come out flat in a game seven? How do you win the President's Trophy and then lose three out of four on your home ice, two of them shutouts? How are you the coach of this and don't have any ideas during the game to change things?

So now the PR campaign to let the Ranger fans know that the team had a successful year and is only a legitimate scorer away. Nash had 42 goals in the season. Isn't that a legitimate scorer? Oh, goes the line, we need a scorer who can score on his own. On his own? Sorry guys, Gretzky is retired. Gotta sell the tickets for next year. Gotta get the suckers to buy into the most expensive seat in town. Get ready for another revival of the '94 Cup Team. Hey, that's a thought. Messier for GM and Graves, Leetch as coaches. At least we have some fire and not business as usual.

So, it's the same ending at the end of the year. Unless we change at the top we will have the same endings for years to come. The fish stinks from the head and this story is getting fishier and fishier. 2015 game seven for the Eastern Conference title shall live in infamy as the worst big game the Rangers ever played. I only absolve two people from the disaster: Lundqvist and McDonagh. And I damn the coaching staff and The Stealth GM for the no show performance.

Friday, May 29, 2015

It's The Big One, Elizabeth!

Aaah, game seven. What's more exciting? Nerve-wracking? Nail biting? There have been many great game sevens in Ranger history. Remember 1994? That series had two great seven's. The all-time great game seven against the Devils. Matteau! Matteau! Matteau! Then the Cup against the Canucks. However, there will always be that infamous April 23rd, 1950, game seven against the Red Wings. 'Bones' Raleigh hits the crossbar and Peter Babano comes back and the Red Wings win the Cup in double overtime. I can still hear the clank, most disappointing. As Lou Costello often said, "sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose."

This may be the biggest game seven in Ranger history. The Rangers lose this one and 2014-15 will be the biggest flop year in Rangers history, IMHO. Let's face it, this team was built to win the Cup. No consolation prizes like the President's Trophy. This game is a must to shoot for the Cup. It won't be easy.

Yes, we are at home, but have lost two of three to the Lightning in this round. Remember we also lost three out of three to Tampa in the regular season, including two at MSG. So Tampa is 4-1 at MSG this year. Last game at the garden we were shut out 2-0 by Ben Bishop. So, who are the odds with?

Forget that we have won 15 of the last 18 elimination games. Forget that Lundqvist is 7-7 in the last elimination games. This all goes out the window. It's one game. Its one big game by two teams that have taken turns beating the brains out of one another. The Ranger crowd could be over whelming and cause too much of a hype. Could, but shouldn't.

It should be a classic. Our edge, if there is one, is Lundqvist. He has risen to the occasion so many times. Does he have one more big one in him? I think so and he remains our hope. So positive thoughts and Let's Go Rangers!

It's the big one Elizabeth!

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CBS NY:
Rangers-Lightning Game 7 Is Hottest — And Priciest — Ticket In Town --
The get-in price — in other words, the cheapest ticket available — for Friday night’s Game 7 between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning is currently $519.95 on StubHub.com...

“It’s the most expensive non-cup final game,” Chris Leyden of SeatGeek told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell. “It’s a hot ticket.” ...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

ECF Game 6: Blueshirts Blitz Bolts, 7-3

If I were the Rangers I would petition the NHL to play the seventh game in Tampa. We all know the Rangers have the best road record in the NHL, but look at the results in Tampa. We have won two out of three and have out scored Tampa 17-10. Our third period blitz, out scoring Tampa 5-2, was a thing of beauty. Had it happened in the Garden we would need a new round of renovations.

The third period blitz is a highlight film all its own. The Rangers were relentless. To me the goal of the game was the 4th. The fourth line of Moore, Glass and Sheppard were outstanding. They must have kept the puck in the Tampa zone for about two minutes culminating with a Sheppard goal in front of the net. In front of the net. Wow! The Rangers spent most of their time in front of the net, in front of Tampa goalie Ben Bishop. Bishop may have seen more rubber than the plantation owners in Malaysia.

The line of Brassard, Nash and Miller was all world. Five goals, thirteen points. Brassard, three goals, two assists. Nash and Miller, a goal and three assists each. Of course, there was Lundqvist. 36 saves and again winning when the Rangers were at the brink of elimination. Facing elimination 18 times the Rangers have won 15. Talk about Houdini.

The clan was texting all night and the biggest comment centered on Steven Stamkos cheap shot on McDonagh. When the Rangers retaliated, two, Kreider and Stepan, were sent off. What is it with the NHL refs, always protecting the stars? Stamkos has the potential to be the next Sid Crosby, in more ways than one.

So now it's another showdown in the Garden for the right to go to the Cup finals. Maybe we can't play in Tampa, but how about wearing the road whites?

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ICINGS:
Nash gives Hank the Broadway hat for game 6 win

Monday, May 25, 2015

ECF Game 5: Rangers Tank! At The Brink!

Disappointing. There is probably a better word to describe last night's debacle, but I'll be kind. How do you not show up on a big game like this? How do you not bring your A game? How? How? How? After Thursday's big 5-1 win, I expected something better. The Ranger fans expected something special. We got a special all right. We got a special dud.  We got a tank job.

There was no grit. No crash. No organization. No style. No coaching. Yes. No coaching. Our guy was out coached by their guy. Their guy coached like he was Jacques Lamaire.  The hi powered offensive team turned into a defensive steel trap. We got 26 shots on goal, mostly pedestrian. They blocked 24 shots. We were 0-4 on the power play, reverting to pre-playoff form and our penalty kill had a chink giving up a power play goal.

We must have left our gas, our grit in Tampa during the 5-1 win. That's good because we are back there again Tuesday night for a do or die sixth game. We came back three times against Washington and now we will have to come back again. Of course we can do it. But we have to get back to our roots. Its all out there now. One game to survive. One game to move to the championship seventh game.

One game. Sixty minutes. One shift at a time. Time to let it rip. Time to let it all hang out. If not the 2014-15  season will go down as one of the more disappointing seasons in Ranger history. There is that word again. Disappointing.

Friday, May 22, 2015

ECF Game 4: Rangers Bounce Back

So what do you think? Remember the names. Lundqvist, 38 saves. Nash, two goals and an assist. St. Louis, his first goal this playoff, plus numerous chances and a gutsy game. Yandle, his first playoff goal, plus two assists and Krash Kreider. Aah Kreider, what a force and another big goal and another imposing force. But, all the Rangers were great, gritty and tough. Would you believe two power play goals?

So, the Rangers have scored five goals in each of the last two games. You think the Lightning should replace Bishop for game five? Probably not, but I bet the Lightning brass now knows that they have a tiger by the tail. We outscored  the highest scoring team by a wide margin. Like I mentioned before we had  a tied game Tuesday and lost in OT in a game that could have gone our way.

Lundqvist was, well Lundqvist. What can you say about the King? He was depressed after game three but while he was not up to his game, the team let him down. Tonight his second period heroics will live in Ranger lore as the period that turned this Eastern Conference playoff series around. The Rangers still were too generous with the puck and Lundqvist had to stop too many breakaways, but stop them he did.

So the hand wringing will stop tomorrow, but who knows what the blame stream media will come uo with. All I know on a big night in a critical game the big guys came up big. Nash, St. Louis, Kreider and of course the King. But listen to the Ranger attitude. Before the game, Carl Hagelin said, they have had their fun with us and now its time to shut them down, Wow! Talk about predictions.

Before the game I texted my clan to have a positive thought at 8PM, EST. They did and it worked. We won. So stop that whining and think positive. We now have control of the series and the doubt is in the other guys head. Besides the King, Nash and St. Louis had outstanding games and Kreider continues to grow into a monster.

Let's Go Rangers!

Time To Bake the Donuts

Okay, so it looks bad. Six goals against, two games in two nights, a total of twelve goals against the King, the premier money goalie in the NHL and everyone panics. We even have the blame stream media talking about possibly changing goalies. Remember the score was 6-5 in OT.

6-5 in OT. We tied the game with less than three minutes to play to send it to OT. A little break and we would be up 2 games to 1. Remember we were down 1-3 against the Caps and the Grate O and stormed back to take three straight.

Do we have to play better? Of course. Does the King have to be sharper? Of course. Does the D have to be more disciplined? Of course. Do the forwards need to be more focused, more resolute more in control? Yes! Yes! Yes!

So big game tonight. Aren't all the playoff games big? All hands on deck. Remember that statistically we are the number one team in the league. Lets play like we are. Lets play like we are number one. Lets play with discipline and a purpose.

Time to bake the donuts!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

ECF Game 2: Lightning 6, Rangers 2

The Tampa Bay Lightning's blowout win over the NY Rangers, 6-2, is getting some terrible reviews for this latest Rangers Broadway performance:

Larry Brooks / NY Post:

It wasn’t as much Tampa Bay’s talent, though it was abundantly clear just how plentiful it is, as it was the Rangers’ outright carelessness and lack of discipline that was infectious throughout the lineup and infected the performance pretty much from start to finish.
Mike Lupica / NY Daily News:
the Rangers played their worst game of the playoffs, their worst by an awful lot, taking bad penalties and making bad, sloppy plays all over the place, and wasting a game in which they outshot the Lightning the way they did.
Brett Cyrgali / NY Post:
It was a substandard performance in discipline, execution and overall desire that led to a brutal 6-2 loss to the Lightning in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final...
Steve Zipay / Newsday:
Ryan McDonagh was livid. So livid that the Rangers' captain was searching for words after Monday night's 6-2 trouncing by the Tampa Bay Lightning...
Rick Carpiniello / Rangers Report:
Can’t recall another game, at least in recent history, where the Rangers were so angry at themselves. We’ve seen plenty of not-good-enough efforts in playoff series these last four years, almost all of them following wins. But to have an out-and-out lazy, brain-free game like that, especially from some of their top players? Wow.
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So, the Rangers had a stinker. It happens. Could they have played consistently good hockey throughout the entire playoffs? Come on, these are the Rangers. What is a Rangers playoff run without a healthy dose of agita.

The show must go on. If you are a Rangers fan all you can do is hope your team pulls itself together, like they have done many times in the past, and rallies to play good hockey the rest of the way.

Let's go Rangers.
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ICINGS:

Scoring Summary:

G Per Time Str Team Goal Scorer Assist Assist

1 1 5:38 SH T.B 9 T.JOHNSON(9) 17 A.KILLORN(7)


2 1 8:50 PP NYR 20 C.KREIDER(6) 26 M.ST. LOUIS(5) 22 D.BOYLE(3)

3 1 11:15 PP T.B 9 T.JOHNSON(10) 91 S.STAMKOS(8) 86 N.KUCHEROV(6)

4 2 8:17 EV T.B 9 T.JOHNSON(11) 18 O.PALAT(6) 86 N.KUCHEROV(7)

5 2 14:17 PP NYR 21 D.STEPAN(5) 26 M.ST. LOUIS(6) 22 D.BOYLE(4)

6 3 3:09 EV T.B 17 A.KILLORN(4) 77 V.HEDMAN(7) 51 V.FILPPULA(5)

7 3 6:28 PP T.B 91 S.STAMKOS(4) 55 B.COBURN(2) 86 N.KUCHEROV(8)

8 3 17:58 PP T.B 17 A.KILLORN(5) 5 J.GARRISON(3) 51 V.FILPPULA(6)


NYR Penalty Summary:

# Per Time Player PIM Penalty
1 1 10:00
20 C.KREIDER
2 Roughing
2 1 11:00
21 D.STEPAN
2 Tripping
3 1 15:14
16 D.BRASSARD
2 Hi-sticking
4 3 1:02
21 D.STEPAN
2 Tripping
5 3 4:40
16 D.BRASSARD
2 Hi-sticking
6 3 17:10
15 T.GLASS
2 Roughing
7 3 17:10
15 T.GLASS
10 Misconduct (10 min)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

ECF Game 1: Rangers 2, Lightning 1

Derek Stepan of the NY Rangers scores a 2nd period goal against Ben Bishop of the Lightning
The well oiled Rangers playoff machine cranked out another tense 2-1 victory today. This  ECF game 1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning followed a familiar script. A script the Rangers have copyrighted. It was a goaltender dominated game from the get go, with a new Rangers hero, Dominick Moore, notching the greasy game winner off his leg with just 2:25 left in regulation. It was the hard working Moore's first goal of these playoffs.

Scoring Summary:
1st Period: None
2nd Period:
19:47 NYR Derek Stepan (4) ASST: Chris Kreider (1), Ryan McDonagh (5), 1 - 0 NYR
3rd Period:
06:45 TBL PPG - Ondrej Palat (4) ASST: Tyler Johnson (5), Victor Hedman (6), 1 - 1 Tie
17:35 NYR Dominic Moore (1) ASST: Kevin Hayes (2), Derick Brassard (4), 2 - 1 NYR
 
The conventional wisdom is that the Stealth GM did not upgrade the team when 28 year-old Anton Stralman was swapped out for 38 year-old Dan Boyle on defense. Just based on Boyle's play today you could argue it was fair deal. Boyle played a very strong game. Especially coming of the bell ringing he suffered in game 7 against the Caps. Today Stralman had 25 shifts for a total on ice time of 22:59, Boyle had 25 shifts with a TOI of 17:56. Both were on the ice when Dom Moore scored the game winner. If Boyle can keep this up the Rangers D is in great shape.

Steve Valiquette's MSG analysis that all the goals scored today came off of plays that crossed the "Royal Road" was insightful. "Royal Road" crossing plays are one of the few ways to beat top goaltenders like the King and Bishop.

Possession across the "Royal Road" equals better scoring chances
Possession across the "Roal Road"
For a refresher on the "Royal Road" and green area scoring check out the Blueshirt Banter's: Video Breakdown: How Steve Valiquette will change how we think about goaltending

It looked like the Rangers were getting more time and space against the Lightning than they were against the Caps. Could we dare say this might be over in less than seven?

Seeing Callahan trying to stay with Kevin Hayes on his pass to Moore for the game winner is reminder that size and youth does have its advantages. Still Cally could not have been 100% coming off an appendectomy 5 days ago. And what's up with Brian Boyle's injury? Could it be that recurring Dutch elm ailment?

Three more 2-1's are fine. Let's go Rangers.

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ICINGS:
Dom Moore celebrates his game winning goal

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Stepan! Stepan! Stepan! – Rangers Win 2-1(OT)

Holtby down as Rangers celebrate game 7 overtime win
(Photo: Kathy Willens / RMNB)
The Rangers got a magnificent game seven overtime win for the ages, 2-1, against the Washington Capitals on lucky May 13th, 2015. The last hero was Derek Stepan, who potted a rebound off a Girardi slapper at the 11:24 mark of OT. The game winner came off a faceoff win by Stepan – win the faceoff, win the game, oh the irony.

The list of game 7, elimination game records is long and getting longer. It is a testament to Henrik Lundqvist's peerless performance in pressure-packed playoff hockey. Long live the King.

  • NYR: 1st team to win series after trailing 3-1 in back-to-back seasons
  • NYR: record 4 OT wins in single post-season
  • Last 10 Home Elimination Games, NYR: 10-0 record
  • Lundqvist: 10-0, 0.96 GAA, .968 Save%, 2 Shutouts
  • NYR: 6 consecutive game 7 wins, ties NHL record (Detroit, Boston)
  • NYR: 14 straight playoff games decided by 1 goal (extends NHL record)
  • Game 7's: NYR has 9-5 All-time record, won last 6, 9 of last 10, 7-0 at MSG
  • Lundqvist last 6 game 7's: 6-0, 0.80 GAA, 0.973 Save%, 1 SO
  • Lundqvist's 6 game 7 wins is tied for most in NHL (Brodeur, Roy)
  • third consecutive May 13th that the Rangers have won a Game 7 with Lundqvist stopping 35 shots (2013 vs Caps, 2014 vs Pens)

Ovechkin's well publicized game 7 guarantee of a victory goes away with a whisper:
“I don’t know what to say about it,” said a barely audible Ovechkin after the game. “It’s tough, it’s a tough situation. There’s nothing to say.”
Bill Price, NY Daily News on Ovi's guarantee: Mark Messier he ain’t.

Yes, we know Mark Messier, and you Mr. Ovechkin are no Mark Messier. Excuse us while we genuflect.

The list of accolades to be handed out is long. The young guys Hayes and Miller were superb overall and vital in securing the game-tying goal. Everyone on the defense was solid, even McDonagh after Ovechkin's goal. Hope Dan Boyle was not concussed by the Brooks Orpik head shot. And it would be nice if Orpik pays a stiff price for that one.

Also, by the way, NBC Sports please turn-off the microphone that is picking up all the fans pounding on the glass behind the goal. We know it is instinctual to pound the glass when standing next to it, but please spare the home viewers from that nicety.

Okay then, bring on the Lightning. Bring on Brian Boyle. Let's Go Rangers.
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ICINGS:
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Thank you Stephanie Vail @myregularface

John Matisz / Toronto Sun:
Tireless GIF creator making her mark on hockey world

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hottest Ticket in Town: Rangers vs. Caps Game 7

CNBC just did a story about the record setting high ticket prices for tonight's game 7, Rangers vs. Caps, at Madison Square Garden. According to Eric Chemi of CNBC, tonight's Rangers-Caps tickets are the most expensive non-finals tickets, in the 4 major league sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) going back in recorded seat price history. Here are some numbers provided by SeatGeek:

Average Ticket Prices
Non-Finals --

  • MSG Tonight: $708
  • 2012 Giants at 49ers: $692 
  • 2011 Packers at Bears: $688 
  • 2014 49ers at Seahawks: $650 

Average ticket prices
2014 Finals --

  • NHL: $1,448 in NY, $777 in LA 
  • NBA: $679 in Miami, $616 in San Antonio 
  • MLB: $941 in San Franciso, $837 in Kansas City

Average Resale Prices for Rangers v. Caps Game 7 tickets:

  • Club Platinum: $2,750
  • Club Gold: $2,005
  • Club Blue: $1,684
  • Club Center: $1,318
  • 100 Level, Non-Club: $872
  • Chase Bridge: $579
  • 200 Level: $536
  • 400 Level: $417

Bottomline: NHL hockey is hot on Broadway.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Rangers Hold On for Game 6 Win, 4-3

The Rangers did it again. They live another day, and forced a game 7 by defeating the Washington Capitals, 4-3, in a heart-pounding game 6. Despite having the luxury of a 3 goal lead mid-way through the 3rd period, the Rangers also found a way to let the Capitals back into the game. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his fifth playoff goal at 7:40 of the third, to make it 4-2. Then Joel Ward lifted the Caps back to within one with a greasy one at 10:33. 

You knew, of course, this would have to end up being yet another one goal game. That's all this team knows – living on the edge.

Then as Lundqvist said, "mayhem" ensued for the rest of the 3rd period. The Caps camped out in the Rangers end, aided by a blown delay of game penalty at 17:16, for James Sheppard sending a puck over the glass. The small problem being that the puck did hit glass and the penalty should not have been called. The striped blind ones were spared the full, fair, and forever wrath of Ranger nation when the Rangers again found a way to shut down the vaunted Caps power-play. This even with Holtby pulled and Blueshirts facing a 6-on-4 situation. God bless the Rangers penalty kill. The dunderheaded officials should send some special thanks the almighty's way for sparing them from eternal damnation.

After the game Henrik Lundqvist was drenched in sweat and said, "I'm so tired." The heat and humidity at the Verizon Center had completely depleted the King. Someone please find the King some hydration in a hurry. Because, we are going to need Hank at full strength on Wednesday back at the Garden for game 7.

Sweat soaked, depleted, and tired King holds court after game 6 win
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Notes:

Lundqvist stopped 42 of 45 Caps shots for a .933 save percentage, and stood on his head in the 3rd to preserve the Rangers win.

Ovchkin had 6 shots and 5 hits. The hit on McDonagh was hard, fast. and looked clean at full speed (in slow-mo, he might have jumped a bit), and it caught him in a bad position. I think we all worried for awhile that might have cut the Captain's night short. But McDonagh put himself back together in the locker room and came back to play big in the rest of the 3rd.

NHL Public Relations / Twitter ‏@PR_NHL:
Lundqvist is 1st #NYR goalie in NHL’s expansion era (since 67-68) to make 42 saves & win a playoff game in regulation when facing elimination.
Elias: @ChrisKreider was 1st in #NYR history to score in both 1st and last min. of a single period in a playoff game.
It was also nice to see Rick Nash get on the board for his 2nd playoff goal, with assists from St. Louis and Brassard. For the first time this series Holtby looked like he was starting to crack. The Rangers had  scored three goals on their last nine shots against Holtby from Kreider's game-tying score late in the third period of game 5, to his first in this game. Cracks that hopefully turn into major fractures on Wednesday.

Okay, how about we play this song again on Wednesday. Let's go Rangers.
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Scoring Summary:
1st Period
00:40NYRChris Kreider(4) ASST: Jesper Fast(3), Kevin Klein(1) 1 - 0 NYR
19:59NYRPPG-Chris Kreider(5) ASST: Derick Brassard(2),Derek Stepan(5)2 - 0 NYR
2nd Period
00:28WSHJason Chimera(3) ASST: Evgeny Kuznetsov(2), Joel Ward(5)2 - 1 NYR
3rd Period
00:54NYRRick Nash(2) ASST: Martin St. Louis(4), Derick Brassard(3)3 - 1 NYR
04:24NYRDan Boyle(2) ASST: James Sheppard(1), J.T. Miller(2)4 - 1 NYR
07:40WSHEvgeny Kuznetsov(5) ASST: Karl Alzner(2), Joel Ward(6) 4 - 2 NYR
10:33WSHJoel Ward(3) ASST: Jason Chimera(4), John Carlson(5)4 - 3 NYR

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ICINGS:



Friday, May 08, 2015

Captain Crushes Caps Hopes in Game 5, 2-1(OT)

Rangers Captain Ryan McDonagh celebrates OT winner
We were asking for some leadership and some scoring and the Rangers Captain Ryan McDonagh delivered a two-fer. He blasted an OT winner that deflected past Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, for the 2-1 OT win. It was his first career playoff OT winner. He also did some motivating in the locker room between periods. Good job by the captain.

Chris Krieder's game-saver/season-saver with 1:41 left in the third to even things at 1-1, was a massive redemption from his game 4 performance.

So, the Rangers tee-times for this weekend will have to be cancelled. All the friends and relatives who thought their boys-in-blue would be home for Mother's Day – sorry, there is more hockey to be played. And isn't that what we all wanted, more May hockey.

Yes, give us more on the edge, tense, fingernail-biting, tied, or close one goal hockey for every single period that we have left. Forget about the mythical 2 goal lead, that doesn't seem likely with these two goal tenders as stingy as Uncle Ebenezer.

The Rangers and Lundqvist have spoiled us with their stellar performances in elimination games. Can we ask for two more miracles? Past is not present, but these stats tell a compelling playoff story for NYR:

  • NYR: 9-game home winning streak when facing elimination, dating back to game 4 of 2008 Eastern Conference Semi's versus Pittsburgh
  • Washington: 3-9 in series clinching games since 2010
  • Lundqvist: 9-0, 0.97 GAA, 98.6% save percentage, 2 shutouts in home games facing elimination
  • NYR: allowed 2 or fewer goals in 8 consecutive playoff games, 2nd longest streak in the team's history, 21-games from 3/31/28 – 3/31/31

By the way, McDonagh's talk on Thursday was prescient, you could even say Messier-like.

Hartnett / CBS NY:
Ryan McDonagh Is Determined To Be Game 5 Difference-Maker –  
“I’m expecting to be an impact player and be a difference-maker here,” McDonagh said during Thursday’s conference call. “I’m going to be playing in a lot of situations and a lot of different roles. I need to be as sharp as anyone here and try and step up; continue to make effective plays and make the right plays, give my team and help myself be part of hopefully a win on (Friday) night.”
He also declared: "This series and this season isn't over."

Encore, Encore...

ICINGS:

The Russian Machine: Nope. Not Going to Analyze This.
Glencross: "Brooksie was all alone wide. I get it past that guy and he's gone in. Get better next game."

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via Kristy Shields:

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Where have you gone, Mark Messier?

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, our nation turns it's lonely eyes to you. Oh where have you gone, Mark Messier, Ranger nation turns it's teary eyes to you.

Where indeed is the Mark Messier type leader on the Rangers, who will pull this team out of the fire of an early 2nd round elimination?

Following the game 4, Capitals 2, Rangers 1, road loss the Rangers are staring into the abyss and there is no one on the team who seems able to rally the boys. Two consecutive 1 goal losses at the Verizon Center, put the Rangers back in a déjà vu situation to last year.

Was Zuccarello the straw that stirred the Rangers drink? So, without him our sweet Spring Fling has turned into a Campari Bitter?

We want answers, but we apparently have no one to provide any.

Alain Vigneault and the Rangers locker room needs to find some scoring and some leadership in about 32 hours or it is goodbye Mrs. Robinson, wo wo wo ...

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Can't Score. Can't Win!

The Rangers have a big problem. The more obvious one is that they are in a 1-2 hole playing a team that they haven't had much success on the teams home ice. In the last 15 playoff games at Verizon Center the Rangers have only won 4 times. So much for being an outstanding road team. The main problem is scoring, or the lack there of.

In the eight playoff games this year the Rangers have scored a total of just fifteen goals, not quite two a game. In only two games have they scored as much as three. A 4-3 loss to the Penguins and a 3-2 win over the Caps. Hence, the pressure on Lundqvist to be perfect. Last night he almost was, getting beat on a fluke behind the net shot by Jay Beagle that first hit Yandel's skate and then went in off of Lundqvist's skate. The play was set up when Girardi lost the puck in the defensive zone on an ill advised play. So everyone on the Rangers has to be perfect.

On the other hand the Caps set up a fortress like defense around their goalie Braden Holtby who made thirty saves. The Caps blocked twenty seven shots, rarely left their goalie alone and also crowded Lundqvist every opportunity they had.

The Rangers got Nash to score goals, playoff goals, and he only has one this playoff. Yes, he threw a thunderous check on Cap D-man Brooks Orpik, but we need the goals more than the hits. The Rangers got St. Louis to score points, playoff points, but he continues to overpass and miss wide open nets. The Rangers got Yandle to jump start the power play and that hasn't happened and on defense he seems a step behind.

Maybe a change would help. Put Hunwick in for Yandle. While not an offensive player he is a defensive rock and might help in the offensive zone around the Caps net. The Rangers are in trouble. It's not time to panic but game four is a must win for us to regain home ice advantage again. But we have to score goals. Can't score. Can't win.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Rangers Hold Off Caps

The Rangers are even going to DC but the Caps now own home ice advantage. Kris Kreider played a monster game with his second goal of the playoffs in the first minute of the game, was one of five Rangers with three shots on goal and along with Kevin Klein dished out four hits. Ovechkin led everyone with his 4th goal of the playoffs, 4 shots and 9 big hits. He was also hit a few times. Alex comes to play and takes no prisoners.

Ovechkin led a late Cap surge with a spectacular goal to cut the Ranger lead to one but this time there was no Ranger letdown, Lundqvist held the fort, and the Rangers tied the series. It's hard to single out any Ranger. Brassard got the black hat for scoring the winning goal, his 4th of the playoff, but Boyle got some revenge with his first, a power play goal, to give the Rangers an early two goal lead.

Lundqvist was outstanding with 30 saves, a few acrobatic, Fast was all over the ice skating with Stepan and Kreider. The top line of Brassard, Nash and St. Louis played their best hockey and 4th liners Moore and Sheppard were active and scrappy.

The defense was unbelievable dishing out as much as they took. The Caps out hit the Rangers 38-30. The Cap coach wanted 50 hits. No cigar coach, but a lively, feisty, chippy affair. The refs still left much to be desired. The Caps were 0-1 on the power play while the Rangers were 1-4, the big goal by Boyle on a canon from the point.

So get your Zantacs and Tums, this one is going to be brutal for as long as it lasts. The Rangers proved today that they will be there and go toe-to-toe with the battering ram, Alex, and his cohorts.

Let's Go Rangers!

Friday, May 01, 2015

Caps At The Buzzer

Sure that was a penalty on Backstrom on his hit on Boyle, but what do you expect from NHL refs. However, what were the Rangers thinking? Their play was sloppy all night. That was the second time Joel Ward was all alone in front of Lundqvist. The first time he hit the post after getting an unexpected pass from JT Miller  from behind he goal line. In fact, if it weren't for posts, crossbars and Lundqvist the Rangers would have been embarrassed.

Alex Ovechkin skated around the Garden ice like he owned it, practically untouched. The last time I saw a performance like that it was Sonja Heine practicing for the Ice Follies during periods. The stats say that we out hit the Caps 34-32. Where? On the babes in the local bar? Ovi was given too much room, especially on the goal he scored in the first period. Give Cap coach Barry Trotz credit he moved Ovechkin around, double shifts to keep him away from Girardi, McDonagh and Staal. Ovechkin scored the goal on Boyle who gave him too much room.

 That is all well and good but the fact remains the Rangers are offensively inept. Thirty four shots? Yeah, Braden Holtby was good, but the traffic in front of him was pedestrian and it was maddening it front of Lundqvist. Big games bring out big names. Ovechkin, a goal and the winning assist. Nash, nada. I'm not picking on Nash, but he has to be the man, has to come up big and he was practically invisible. His playoff prowess is negligible.

The power play was the deciding factor. The Caps were 1-2 the Rangers were 0-2. Sure we should have had more pp's. Many penalties, holding, clutching, interference were not called on the Caps but does it matter? We can't score. Our power paly sucks and our coach doesn't have a clue how to fix it. Remember when I wrote a while back that the power play will be the death of us?                 

Another thing, there was a big shuffle of players by the Rangers. St. Louis to the second line, Fast, the goal scorer, to the third line and Sheppard off the bench to the fourth line. Not until the third period did there seem to be any cohesion. Klein came back on defense, but he seemed out of sorts.

Game two at the Garden Saturday. Watch it on NBC, turn off the sound and put the radio broadcast on. The TV announcers are awful. I really had a bad night. Let's Go Rangers.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rangers Looking To Put A Cap On Washington

Well the Rangers survived trench warfare and now move on to the next step, guerrilla warfare, hand to hand combat. The Rangers go from the finesse of Crosby and Malkin to the brute force of Ovechkin and Backstrom. This is the fourth playoff meeting in five years for these rivals, the Rangers won two of the previous three and the Rangers won three of four this year in the regular season. Throw all of that out the window.

This will be a no holds barred series. The Caps will try to decapitate the Rangers. Pardon the pun but that's the reality. If the refs are on top of their game and are fair, the Rangers will get multiple power plays. The Ranger power play is awful. Instead of pass, pass, pass the Rangers should think, shoot, shoot,  shoot. Crowd and crash the net. One man in front of the net is not enough. And we need Nash and Kreider to do some damage, like hitting the back of the net.

But we have said this before, to no avail, but we continue to win. We continue to win 2-1 games and are becoming the cardiac kids. So batten down the hatches, get ready for a back yard brawl and bring your Zantac's with you. It might not be pretty at times but I assure you it will be rough, tough, nerve wracking and exciting.

Number one son, fresh off his five game prediction in series one, predicts the Rangers in six. Sounds good. Maybe he has an in. Don't care, only hope he is right. Heck, I would like the Rangers to sweep, but will take any number to advance to the next round and the anticipated rematch with Le Habs. I can dream too.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

How Swede It Is

The Brännvin must be flowing in Sweden today as two local boys made good. Boy, did they make good. First, Lundqvist won another 2-1 game, again in OT. This is four 2-1 wins. In five games the King gave up 8 goals. The Pens 'elbowed' in the  only score off of him. Second, the speedy scraggly-haired kid, Carl Hagelin, scored the game winner in OT adding his name to other OT winners that have been series enders. Anyone think Matteau, Matteau, Matteau? And Adam Graves, both against the Devils.

So the Rangers await the winner of the Caps/Islanders game six at the Island today. The Caps are up 3-2. This game was another trench like game. Think of this. The Pens goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury gave up 11 goals in five games, had guys named Crosby and Malkin on his team and yet lost four of the five games. So the first step toward the ultimate goal has been taken and the Rangers get a mini rest to heal all wounds.

Speaking of wounds, Zuccarello was hit in the head by a McDonagh slap shot, left the game and his status is in doubt. Hopefully it is not a concussion. If it is the Ranger depth will be put to a test. It would give an opportunity to James Sheppard. He could step up. He is a tough kid.

I will now have to live through the playoff season with the knowledge that number one son correctly predicted the first round, five games. I think it's a first. However if he continues his 'hot streak' two things will happen. The Rangers will win the Cup and I will have a dozy of a summer. Hope he is right.

ICINGS:


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Empire State Building wears Ranger colors after game 5 win

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Twitter / @NYRangers:
Who has two thumbs and is headed to round 2?! #NYR

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Trench Warfare

How else to describe last night's game. It was wall to wall battles. Checks, hits. You want hits. The Rangers piled up 42 hits, the Pens 28. The only place to avoid a hit was sitting on the bench. This was grandson Nicholas type of game. Battle along the boards. Battle in front of the nets. Battle. Battle. Trench warfare.

The Rangers win in OT, 2-1, gives them a 3-1 lead heading into MSG Friday. Teams with 3-1 lead in playoffs win over 90% of the time. However, remember last year we came back from a 1-3 hole against the Pens and won the series. So there is always a however.

Kevin Hayes scored his first playoff goal and what a beauty, poking one past a prone Fleury, who was good again, to send the Rangers into ecstasy. The other Ranger goal, Brassard, was also scored on a scrum in front of Fleury, to tie the game. This is scrum hockey, trench warfare.

The Rangers have won three games with identical 2-1 scores. They have scored nine goals in four games. The Pens have scored seven goals in four games. The big outburst was game two with a 4-3 Pens win. The Rangers can't score and their power play sucks. It was 0-2 in the game, 2-17 in the series. It may yet be the death of them.

Number one son predicted the Rangers would win this series in five. It could be a long summer if he gets this one right and the remaining series right. The Rangers win. I'll take it. Right now it looks like Lundqvist on his game, the D strong, scrums in front of the nets and battle, battle, battle. Trench warfare.