Friday, October 14, 2016

Happy 90th Kids

The Rangers celebrated their 90th year in grand fashion. They beat the Islanders 5-3. However great that was the pre-game show was a knockout, boffo. They went back in history to introduce all the greats: Mark Messier, "the Messiah," Eddie Giacomin, "Eddie, Eddie, Eddie," Barry Beck, "Shoot the puck Barry." I was waiting, wistfully, for the ghosts of Chuck Rayner and Frankie Boucher. No luck.

While the old timers shone in the pregame it was the young guns, or more appropriate, young legs who took over. Kreider, a goal and assist, Pirri, goal and assist; Zibanejad, two assists, JT Miller, goal and Brady Skjel an assist. All young and all 25 or younger. So what does this all mean? It means the Rangers beat the Islanders in the first game of the season. It might mean the young legs might carry the team, just as the Yankee kids carried the Bombers in August and September, at least for awhile. It will all depend on how long the youngsters continue to get meaningful ice time. And remember the coach is two points oriented. On to St. Louis and on to bigger things. Hopefully the young guys will continue to play, skate, score and win. Let's Go Rangers!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Sad Truth: "Holy Cow the Rangers Are Worse than the Cubs!"

Cliff Asness, a big time PhD money manager, who appears to have a soft spot for the Blueshirts, has analyzed all the probabilities and statistics regarding the prodigious losing streak the Rangers have compiled. As you might guess, if you have been paying attention here, his mathematical conclusion fits our theme. The Rangers have punished their loyal fan base beyond anything known in modern professional sports.

Cliff's Perspective at AQR Capital Management:
Holy Cow the Rangers Are Worse than the Cubs --

I’m taking a break... to demonstrate something really important – that hockey’s New York Rangers not winning the Stanley Cup from 1940-1994 was a greater achievement (“achievement” being, you know, really bad in this context) than baseball’s Chicago Cubs not winning the World Series from 1908-2015.

[...]

I think the numbers are so strikingly different it’s hard to argue with the basic conclusion... The Rangers from 1940-1994 were just way worse than the Cubs from 1908-2015 (or, perhaps, were way more unlucky as their chance of no championships by random chance was way smaller!).

If Cubs fans are curious, they will surpass the Rangers in probabilistic futility if they can go until 2040 without winning the World Series, assuming major league baseball continues with 30 teams.
Thanks Cliff.

So, while our current MSG brain trust continues to build a new 22-year and counting monument of futility let us take some small consolation by knowing it will take some real serious work to beat the previous 54-year (plus small league) losing streak. However, we should also never underestimate them.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

One Cup In 76 Years!

So were you surprised? I wasn't. Counting since the famous "1940", you remember the chant, bellowed in every NHL rink, the Rangers have won one Cup and that one was won when we brought in the "gunslinger" Mark Messier and his band of desperadoes. It was 1994 and if the Rangers continue with their ineptitude and mismanagement and poor coaches that chant may be revived in about 5 years by Islander fans, who will enjoy a Cup before we do.

One Cup in 76 years!

The Ranger organization's mismanagement is legendary. Yes, I know the Chicago Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908 but the Cubbies seem to be lovable, the Rangers laughable. The fourties started it. Following their '40 win, World War II broke out and the Canadien government in their infinite wisdom drafted almost the entire Ranger team, they were all Canadiens in those days, assigned them in Canada, and allowed them to play hockey for the Canadien teams, at that time Montreal and Toronto. The Rangers were decimated and spent most of the 40's in the basement of a six team league.

One Cup in 76 years.

In the 50's the Rangers ran into another obstacle, Ringling Bros, Barnum and Bailey Circus. The Circus visited the Garden every year usually in April so the Rangers had to play the 1950 Stanley Cup finals against the powerhouse Red Wings on the road. The kindly NHL gave the Rangers two home games in Toronto and five at Detroit. The Rangers get credit for taking the series to a seventh game and losing in OT on a goal by Pete Babando, after "Bones" Raleigh hit the crossbar for the Rangers. This to me, was the greatest Ranger team anchored by goalie Chuck Rayner.

One Cup in 76 years!

Having been treated unfairly by fate and the hockey Gods, the Rangers took matters into their own hands and put in place corporate heads and bench coaches that would keep them down trodden for years. Yes, occasionally there were bright spots. Emile Francis's teams of the 70's that were not quite good enough and the 1979 ill fated Cup run. But that was it until 1994. We still live in 1994. The rafters are filled with the stars of that team. The Garden exploits them at every turn, Mark Messier is the Messiah... bringing us our one Cup in 76 years.

And then, 'til 2000 and the great wrecker, the Stealth GM, Glen Sather. Fourteen years of ineptitude and mismanagement. Picking up older players at the expense of prospects. Being invisible to the press and public. Never answering to the fans or press his many inane decisions. Fourteen years. Fourteen long years of poor coaches, weak and inconsistent play. Oh yes, we made it to the finals in 2014 and even then fate stepped in and gave us a raw deal, incompetent referees who took the series away from us. Slowly the team began to deteriorate. A conference final loss to Tampa Bay and this years first round elimination by the Penguins.

Why, just one Cup in 76 years?

Why? Why did we let a speedster, PK specialist like Carl Hagelin go? Cap problems? A good GM would have been creative, worked something out and let one of the other players go. Why did we trade hot prospect Duclair for a so-so D-man like Yandle? Why did we let Stralman go and sign an over the hill, expensive Dan Boyle? Why does the coach play the higher salaried players over the rookies. D-man McIlrath should have gotten more playing time in the regular season over washed up Boyle and tiring, beat up Girardi. Game coaching? Our coach constantly gets out coached, whether it's a bad time out or getting the wrong guy on for a face off or not wisely managing Lundqvist's off days.

One Cup in 76 years.

Finally, Lundqvist. He is in no way to blame for the Rangers poor performance. In the last game I counted three Penguin goals where a Ranger defender was not within five feet of the Penguin goal scorer. I heard the news conference. Sorry Henrik, not your fault. Get that monkey off your back, the team collapsed. Too many aging players, making too much money being under coached by incompetents.

One Cup in 76 years!

This year I missed a lot of games because of personal issues. However, the coach and some of the players missed more. I don't wear rose colored glasses. I call them like I see them. I predicted in one of my first post's this year the the Rangers would not win the Cup with this coach. Look it up. Little did I know they wouldn't make it past the first round. I've seen a lot and I see how this franchise is going backward. A lot of people in the Ranger organization are making a ton of money and it's at the expense of the fans. The fans are shelling out big bucks to see an inferior product, bigger bucks to drink watered down beer and top cuisine prices to basically eat fast foods.

One Cup in 76 years!

Will it end? No, because corporate America, at least New York, has the place sold out every night. That's why the last four years I drifted over to watch my Grandson's high school team and am pleased to say that for the third year in a row he won an award, this time a scholarship award. Keep up the great work kid and let's hope I see a turnaroud in the Rangers fortunes in my lifetime.

One Cup in 76 years!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Rangers Rebound For The King

It was only a stick near an eye. So he was bleary eyed for a while. Who knows, he may even had been bleary eyed last night but this is the King and when he wills his way he usually wins out. Last night an injured Henrik Lundqvist helped carry his team to a series tying 4-2 win bringing the series and home ice advantage back to the Garden.

Think of it. Henrik Lundqvist has brought home ice advantage to the Rangers. It's now three of five with three games at MSG. Sure he had help. Yandel had his best offensive game of the season. JT Miller gave a Wayne Gretsky imitation with three big assists and was assertive all night. The two young D men were terrific. McIlrath got a little over 9 minutes while Brady Skjei got about 19 minutes.

You think a baseball player would be back after a ball near the eye? Probably would have made the DL. But this is hockey and more important this was Henrik Lundqvist, the King. He may relinquish his crown but its not going to be taken away by a puck near the eye. The Pens have to step up their game to take it away and besides their goal tending problems are bigger than pucks near the eye.

This is now a dog eat dog series. Best of five. Go Lundqvist! Go Rangers!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ranger "Limp" Into Playoffs

Well the Rangers are in the playoffs again in a season that while they compiled 101 points they didn't seem to play to their potential. Actually they have limped into the playoffs. Ryan McDonagh's presence is in doubt due to a broken hand he suffered against Columbus on April 4th. Also lesser injuries to Girardi, Zuccarello and Eric Staal, and Lundqvist leaving the practice on Monday didn't send waves of confidence through the organization. So welcome to the playoffs.

To add to the miseries the Rangers get the Penguins, the best team in the NHL, who finished with a 14-2 run. We get the Penguins thanks to the Islanders, who went into the tank against the Flyers. May the Panthers sweep them in four games. The Penguins have injuries of their own. Malkin has been out since March 11th plus forwards Bryan Rust and Beau Bennett. However, the biggest injury may be to goalie Marc-Andre Fleury out the last six with a concussion. The backup goalie Matt Murray is also out and that leaves Jeff Zatkoff as the Pens goalie. All these haven't slowed the Pens a bit.

Do the Rangers have a chance? Of course they do. These are the NHL playoffs where many an 8th seed has shocked the hockey world. The Rangers need Nash and Eric Staal to step up big. They still haven't found the right partners for Staal. Here is a guy who has averaged a point a game in the playoffs, 43 pts in 43 games. Only four others have averaged a point a game and two of them are on Pittsburgh's roster: Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin.

The Ranger D will be tested. The coach will have to decide between rookies righty McIlrath and lefty Skjei to see who gets the sixth spot. Too bad these guys, both good, didn't get more ice time during the regular season, but we coached to the higher salaries hence the inexperience we face. So the Ranger D must play disciplined and tough, helping Lundqvist not hindering him.

Finally, the biggest key: Lundqvist. He is not getting any younger, like all us mortals.  Hopefully, the illness that forced him out of practice was not serious. I love the Rangers, but we may be in this over our heads. However, we have Henrik Lundqvist and with Lundqvist all things are possible. Let's get it to a seventh game and watch Lundqvist do his magic. Wake up Rick Nash and Eric Staal, keep it going Krash Kreider and JT Miller, step it up McIlrath and Skjei, God Bless Lundqvist and Let's Go Rangers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Rangers At Critical Stage

This has been one hell of a season. We're up, we're down. We're hot, we're cold. We play sixty minutes, we mail it in. The only thing steady is the coach. No innovative moves, no fire, no emotion, plenty of indecisiveness, lots of tinkering, no overall plan. He is basically the two point coach. He can't coach beyond his nose. He still can't figure out where Eric Staal fits in. Every game sees Staal with different line mates, different positions. Maybe they should pair him with his brother on defense.

I was optimistic when we got Staal. In fact I was excited. Now I'm my usual grumpy self. Same old Rangers. One Cup in seventy five years. WOW! Remember, I said it in one of my early articles, this Ranger team will not win the Cup with this coach. His game tactics are awful. Witness the loss against the Islanders. Let's recap. About a minute to play, the game tied, faceoff to the right of goalie Raanta, the coach pulls Staal who was practically flawless on face offs and inserts Stepan who loses the draw and the Islanders score on the faceoff.

How many games has the other team pulled their goalie and then scored late goals against us? Too many. However, it's the constant line changes they baffle me. With Staal on board and Nash back we should have a high octane type offense. But it's stagnant because none of the lines have the chemistry to click. Kevin Hayes is not a winger, he's a center. Girardi should not be paired on the number one D unit, Klein should.

I've said it many times before. The Rangers will only go as far as Lundqvist will take us. I cringed the other night when a shot went off his mask. This guy goes down and forget the Cup, we won't even make the playoffs. Right now with the Islanders and Penguins charging the playoffs are highly in doubt. There is time to correct the slide and turn it around. We have to find the right line mates for Eric Staal and find them fast. We have to put Kevin Hayes back to center and we have to get Kevin Klein on the top D pairing. And we have to have the coach to start earning his pay. Otherwise it will be early golf for the boys.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Rangers Eye Cup, Acquire Eric Staal

I may have to eat my words and rethink the Rangers chances of winning the Cup. The Rangers have picked up Eric Staal from the Hurricanes for prospects. Great move. Staal, the older brother of Ranger Marc Staal is exactly what the Rangers need. A big tough, rugged forward who can put the puck in the net. Lundqvist can now breathe a little easier. Help is on the way. Great deal. Kudos to the new GM.

Andy Bathgate - R.I.P.

Losing a sports hero always brings back memories of the hero and his deeds and legends. With Bathgate I had that feeling every time I went to a Ranger game and saw the players skating. Nobody skated like Bathgate. He was smooth, determined and classy. Hey, that's the word, classy. Bathgate exuded class. Never in my many years as a fan have I seen a more classy player than Bathgate.

Yes, he had the numbers. 973 points in 1069 games. 40 goals in 1958-59, a 70 game season. The Hart Memorial Trophy in 1958-59. 10 goals in 10 consecutive games, still a Ranger record. But he was more than the numbers.

He skated against Hall of Famers Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull and was never outshone by either. He fought the NHL to enforce and toughen "spearing" penalties, often a tool of Howe. He fought with the Rangers over their sub par practice facilities when the Rangers played in the "old Garden". He was not a quiet star he was a leader and a fighter.

When I go to the games I wear my Bathgate jersey. It draws aahs from the knowing and questions from the younger ones. One night I had the privilege of sitting with Rod Gilbert in the boxes and he wanted to know why I didn't have his jersey. I asked Hot Rod to sign it so that I would have the greatest Ranger players jersey signed by his heir and successor, the next greatest Ranger. Hot Rod gleefully signed it.

So goodbye old friend. You were missed when you left the Rangers and now you will be missed again, especially by your loving family and those of us who have had the privilege of seeing you play. We will be hard pressed to see a player like you come along again. Prayers and condolences to your family.

God bless you, Andy Bathgate, and R.I.P. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Goons Are Back

Yes, the Rangers have turned it around, but remember we lost two games to two "elite" teams, the Kings and the Black Hawks. Of course in this mediocre NHL "elite" is an over used phrase. But this isn't about hockey, well in a sense it is, it's about goonery, thugness and head hunting.

For the second time in Ryan McDonagh's last three games someone has gone after his head. First, Simonds from Philly with a sucker punch and last night a well placed elbow from Leo Komarov to Ryan's head and what do you know, we lost our ace defenseman to a concussion again.

Simonds got off with a game misconduct and nothing else, Kamarov is subject to five games max. Five games! I've said it before and will say it again, we need frontier justice. Yes, Kamarov should get the max, five games, but he also should be suspended for as long as McDonagh is out. Also the NHL should review it's max penalty.

Does the NHL really want to stop these cheap hits? If they do the penalties should be more severe. Many a career has ended with sucker punches and cheap shots. Remember Jeff Beukaboom? But I doubt anything will change. They call it tough hockey. I disagree. I call it goonery, thugness and head hunting.

ICINGS: The T/Birds were eliminated in the first round by top draw Smithtown, 8-1. While it is disappointing the T/Birds improved over last years squad which only won three games. So it's on to college for my grandson. Good luck!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Rangers Feed On Patsies

Well the Rangers cuffed around that old punching bag, i.e. the Carolina Hurricanes, I believe it's nine in a row and tonight they play the staggering Ottawa Senators. Thank God the NHL is packed with more losers than winners. Of course listening to Sam and Joe there are 30 contenders in the NHL.

But not all the news is bad. The young guns are beginning to show their mettle. JT Miller is starting to show his grit and scoring as has Hayes and Kreider. Now if we can get McIlrath in the lineup and Boyle on the bench or out of town we might rejuvenate the team. Our PK was hurting and we went out to get journeyman Paille who might help with meaningful ice team. However, we have a power play that sucks and we keep rounding up the usual suspects and it sucks worse.

So it's two games before the all star break and the Ranger playoff hopes depend more on the futility of the pretenders behind the Rangers. Remember the Rangers are 0-5 against the Caps and Islanders. Also they are winless against Montreal and Florida of the Atlantic. So maybe we make the playoffs, but where do we go from there? This team doesn't look like it has a run in it. The defense looks pedestrian the offense is sporatic and the coaching is questionable. The good news. Lundqvist!

ICINGS: The T/Birds have two regular season games, tonight and Monday, and are sitting in seventh place with a one point lead over the eighth place team. Should be an interesting finish.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Rangers Slowly Fading

What's that old line? There is no there, there. The Rangers came out with gusto, shot a lot of pucks and missed a lot of shots. In fact they missed a lot of open net as Islander goalie was often out of position but the Ranger radar was missing. So, for the second time in three games the Rangers blew a third period  lead. Last year, a third period lead led to two points. But theses are different times. This is a different team.

The Rangers hit their peak two years ago with their Stanley Cup Finals loss. Last year was the Conference Finals loss. This year they may not make the playoffs. Four points separates them from extinction. Four points. What's the difference?

Difference is the team is older and their have been more injuries. Stepan, Girardi, Kreider and Klein have all had some sort of injuries. Plus a key player, Carl Hagelin is gone because of the cap.. So we got Stoll and he is gone. We got Etam and he is gone. So we basically gave away Hagelin for nothing and a sparkplug is missing.

The coach doesn't help with his lineups. He insisted on playing a hurt Girardi with a healthy McIlrath on the bench. Girardi and the coach lost the game to Washington. Girardi with the giveaways and the coach failing to call a timeout near the end of the game. You think he is saving that timeout for the playoffs?

So the Rangers are floundering and with red hot Philly and scalding Washington coming up on the road the Rangers either should rise to the occasion or go into oblivion. Interesting weekend coming up, stay tuned. Hopefully Lundqvist will be King again but that can't happen if the loyal troops don't protect the King in front of his domain. The Rangers need to fix their radar and start scoring goals.

Of course, this team may not have it in them to rally and a big shakeup may be necessary. I'm not talking about dumping Yandle because he becomes an UFA next year. I'm talking about major shakeup. No one should be exempt, no one. Wake up, GM.

ICINGS: The Pundit had a rough holiday season spending some time in an ER. So have been lax in posting. Will try to be more consistent.
After a stirring 5-0 win that gave them a three point lead for a playoff spot, the T/Birds blew a 4-1 lead and loss 5-4 to drop back into a dog fight for the last playoff spot.