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.

New York Rangers (@NYRangers) | Twitter

NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) | Twitter

NHL on TNT (@NHL_On_TNT) | Twitter

The Hockey Writers (@TheHockeyWriter) | Twitter

Blueshirt Banter (@BlueshirtBanter) | Twitter

NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) | Twitter

Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) | Twitter

NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) | Twitter

Stephen Valiquette (@VallysView) | Twitter