Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Another Reason To Hate Dallas - Ranger Win Streak Busted in 3-2 Loss

Well, it was close.

Realistically – we weren’t going to win the rest of our games this year – the streak had to end sometime.  And the Rangers made a game of it – fighting back to a 2-2 tie before losing the lead in the first minute of the 2nd period.  But then – they just couldn’t score over the last 40 minutes and the 8 game winning streak came to a sad end in Texas tonight.  (Why do they even play hockey in Texas by the way?)

The Rangers looked a bit sluggish and Dallas was hustling all over the ice.  Still, we had our chances – but a bounce here and a post there and we only got 2 goals when we needed 3.
Along the way we wasted a nice goal by J.T. Miller – who wristed the puck past Kari Letonen for the Rangers only lead of the night.  And in the second – Kevin Hayes made a big time deflection off a Marc Staal shot to give the Rangers their final tie of the evening.

But Hank let up three.  The 2nd had some extenuating circumstances (Editor – that means it wasn’t Hank’s fault).  Ales Hemsky (And that is a great first name by the way) backhanded the puck at an impossible angle from behind the Ranger Goal line – but Marc Staal inadvertently tipped the puck on (and actually in) net and it got by Lundqvist. 

The game winner – 54 seconds into the 2nd period – was also a backhanded shot – and I don’t really want to talk about it.  For the Rangers - assist for Zuccarello and three defensemen:  McDonagh, Staal, and Boyle

The game did have a few interesting moments.  The Stars managed to miss 4 or 5 shots at an empty net in the final two minutes – in one case with Mats Zuccarello making a very professional looking save.  And Dallas goaltender Kari Letonen made a save in the final minute – dropped the puck deliberately on his stick and took a good look down the ice – clearly thinking about scoring an empty netter of his own.  But he reconsidered and fell on the puck for a faceoff.  In the end the Rangers outshot Dallas 30-26 but it just wasn’t enough.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Not exactly.  The Ranger were 1 for 2 with the extra skater and killed 3 of 4 shorthanded.  In fact – at times the Dallas powerplay looked like event strength because the Rangers were getting more rushes and chances than the Stars were with the extra man.

Where We Stand:  Well, the damn Capitals more or less kept pace with us through the winning streak.  And tonight they fought back from 3-0 to tie the Islanders before falling in OT.  So the extra point moves Washington into 3rd place in the Metro, one point up on the Blueshirts, who still hold two games at hand.  We tumble into the last wild card slot – one point above the line-of-death.

Now What?  One day off and then the Rangers will close out the year on New Year’s Eve in Florida taking on a Panther team that is just 2 points behind us for the last playoff spot.  We’ve got to reach down deep and stop the bleeding at just one loss.  If the win streak is dead – let’s close out 2014 by starting a new one.  Thanks for reading - Dave Pucks out.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

3 Coaches for NJ – 3 Goals for Stepan – 8 in a Row!

Eight Games – Eight consecutive wins – And your New York Rangers are flying.

Can anyone question the impact Alain Vigneault has had on this New York Rangers hockey club?  Season one he took us to the Stanley Cup Finals.  And this year he has the Rangers on their longest win streak in recent memory – 8 consecutive wins.  And we’re winning even when we don’t play our best hockey – like last night where we outclassed the New Jersey Devils 3-1.

The Devils had just fired their head coach – and his replacement was – well – it’s complicated:

Hall and Oates?

Not exactly.

Adam Oates and Scott Stevens?  Two coaches?

Well, yes – but not exactly.  They are co-coaches (Editor - CoCo for short?).

(Dave Pucks – not exactly)

(Editor – so there are two coaches?)

(Dave Pucks – yes – but its more complicated than that)

(Editor – how could it be more complicated than two coaches at the same time?)

(Dave Pucks – because the GM – Lou Lamoriello – said that he also wanted to stand behind the bench for the next few games)

(Editor – so now there are three coaches?)

(Dave Pucks – apparently so.)

Anyway – with three coaches behind the bench – the Devils came into this game heavily coached.  In fact – you could say Rangers Coach Alain Vigneault could have been outcoached 3 to 1.   

But – instead – it was the Rangers who prevailed 3-1.  Here’s what happened:

In the first – the Devils were on the powerplay when Derick Stepan stole the puck at the point and had a break away.  Stepan advanced on Cory Schneider – deked him – and calmly slid the puck 5-hole for a 1-0 lead.

In the second – the Rangers were on the powerplay when Marty St. Louis absolutely ripped a one-timer toward the New Jersey net.  Stepan was trying for a tip in – but the puck’s velocity was so fast that neither Steps or Schneider had a chance to react.  The puck hit Stepan and bounced on in for a 2-0 lead. 

But then – mid way through the 2nd – the Devils found a way to score – Steve Bemier off a perfect feed snapped the puck past Lundqvist and we were back to a one goal lead.

And that’s how the third period unfolded until late in the contest when the Devils pulled Schneider to get the extra skater.  Moments after Rick Nash’s offside spoiled his own empty netter – Stepan gained possession of the puck – made his way to the red line and netted his hat trick at 19:05 to close out the scoring.

The Rangers had 28 shots on goal and held NJ to just 20. 

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome of this game?  I’d say yes.  The Rangers scored on the Power Play – scored shorthanded – scored on an empty net – and killed off 4 penalties. 

Where we stand:  The Capitals – damn them – keep on winning.  But – with 42 points and two games at hand – the Rangers have 3rd place in the Metro Division and now only trail the 2nd place Islanders by 5 points with 2 games at hand.  And we are three points above the “line of death” – the 9th place Boston Bruins.

What Next?  Monday night brings us to Dallas to take on the Stars who are 15-14-5 in the Western conference.  Can we win 9 in a row? 

We’ll see tomorrow.

Dave Pucks Out and thanks for listening

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Marty Nash-mass! Rangers Cool Hot Caps – Reclaim Third Place

What more could New York want for Christmas?  We've got a good local team on a hot streak with realistic playoff aspirations.  And it's not the (surging too late) Giants, the (soon to be Rex-less) Jets, the (one bat away) Mets, the (triangle?  How about "Wrecked-angle") Knicks, the (regressing) Nets, or the (where's Jeter?) Yankees. 
No - It's your New York ("Potvan Sucks") Rangers Hockey Club – surging back into third place with a 4-2 win over the red hot Washington Capitals – who used to be 7-0-2 coming into the match – and in sole possession of third place in the Metropolitan Division.
But - 60 minutes of hockey later – Washington heads home with a big steaming lump of coal in the back of their hockey pants.  The Rangers beat them 4-2 at home, recapturing third place in their division and heading into the Christmas holiday with seven straight wins - the best current streak in the NHL.
In the first two periods the Rangers clamped down on Ovechkin with coach Alain Vigneault sending his top offense and defense lines over the boards whenever number 8 hit the ice.  Hockey is the only major sport where there is an actual rules-based home team advantage – line matching – and Vigneault took full advantage.
The result – through two periods Caps mustered only 11 shots on Hank – and no goals.  But the Rangers scored early in both periods:
At 3:32 of the first period – moments after the oversized Ovechkin knocked the hobbit-sized Mats Zuccarello to the ice – the small Norwegian led an odd man rush at Caps goalie.  Zuc headed for the left post but launched the puck towards the right.  He missed the net – but the puck hit the leg of a streaking Rick Nash and bounced into the net for a 1-0 lead.  It's just one of those years for Nash and about time!
And then, at 27 seconds into 2nd, after Ovechkin illegally boarded Mats Zuccarello (Editor - that sounds more graphic than it actually was) the Rangers had the man advantage.  The Ranger power play has, at least at times, looked much more organized this year than in recent memory.  And this time - the Rangers scored again.  Dan Boyle – who was brought in here to help on extra-man situations – helped get the puck to Marty St. Louis in his favorite sniper position – to the right of the net.  St Louis just flat-out ripped the puck from a nearly impossible angle right by Holtby and it was 2-0.
But the Capitals would not go quietly.  They put on a flurry early in the third but Henrik was able to keep them off the score sheet.  And then – off a pass by Mats – Rick Nash scored - a real goal this time – a sniper's shot that beat Holtby high and to his right.
So 3-0 Rangers with less than 15 minutes to play.  And the Caps had played the previous night and had every reason to just give up.
But instead, they surged.  Less than a minute later Evgeny Kuznetsov somehow trickled the puck through Lundqvist – who probably would like to get another try at that one – and it was 3-1.  And then –the Caps became coming in waves.  There were 21 Capitals shots on goal in the third period alone and the puck never seemed to get out of the Ranger's defensive zone.
At 10:58 – the hated one – Alex Ovechkin - scored on the powerplay and suddenly 3-0 was 3-2 and all momentum had left the Ranger's side.
The Caps kept coming and the Rangers seemed unable to clear the puck – hanging on a hank and a prayer as best they could.  But then at 14:35 of the third – Washington's own stupidity brought them down.
First Nicklas Backstrom caught Derick Brassard right in the nose with a Hi Stick.  The refs awarded a double-minor – meaning that the Caps would have to spend 4:00 of the remaining 5:25shorthanded.  And then – on the ensuing faceoff (Editor – did you say Brassard is suing because Backstom almost knocked his face off?) (Dave Pucks – no) Jason Chimera attempted a hand-pass which is an automatic penalty.  So now it was 5 on 3.
And at 16:12 either Marty St. Louis got his 2nd of the night – or Nash got a hat trick.  We're not sure:
Here's what happened:  Nash shot the puck and Holtby made the initial save.  The puck popped up in the air and as Holtby grabbed for it – Marty St. Louis swung his stick at the puck.  Marty's stick hit Holtby's glove – the glove hit the puck – the puck went in the net – and the Rangers lead 4-2.  
The refs gave the goal to Marty – but on replays it looks like he never touched it.  So we'll see if the NHL make a ruling today - or maybe are they all drinking egg nog now and the goal will stand at St Louis',
In any event – the 4-2 lead with the remaining penalty was too much for the Caps to overcome – and so the Rangers hold on and climb past Washington as they head to Santa Day as the hottest team in the NHL.
Did Special Teams Decide This Game?  Well, the Rangers killed 4 of 5 and scored on 2 of 7.  So our advantage on Specials was a factor in the win and as mentioned – the Capitals defeated themselves with that late triple penalty.
Where We Stand:  By beating the Caps we move past them into 3rd Place in the Metro with 40 point – just 6 behind the Islanders' with 2 games at hand.  The Capitals hold on to the 8th and final playoff spot – the Wild Card – 1 point in front of the Bruins.
Now What?  We celebrate that other guy in red pants: Santa Claus.  The Rangers get a few days off until Saturday night when they take on the Devils at home (Editor – Aren't you going to that game?)  (Dave Pucks – Oh snap.  You're right Ed, I almost forgot with all the holiday spirit and stuff).  See you at the game!


Monday, December 22, 2014

Ho Ho Ho! Six In A Row! The Rangers beat Hurricane

The Rangers did a solid for backup goaltender Cam Talbot this week – signing him to a one year contract extension as he approached unrestricted free agency.  And Cam returned the favor – turning in a home shutout of the Carolina Hurricanes to sweep the weekend home-and-home series and extend their winning streak to 6.     

Unlike Saturday night – on Sunday the Rangers scored first – with Captain Ryan McDonagh rocketing a beautiful pass from Derek Stepan past goaltender Anton Khudobin to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead that they would never build on – but never relinquish either.

Khudobin played well enough to be one of three selected stars of the game – stoning the Rangers on many several great chances including one scramble in the Carolina crease – that upon later replays appeared to cross the line.  But in real time the Toronto Goal Judges ruled it no goal and so the Rangers in the end had to settle for one goal.

But the Ranger defense and Cam Talbot made that one goal hold up.

In the end the Rangers outshot the Hurricanes 31-18, including just 4 Carolina shots on goal in the first and third periods.  So Cam Talbot just had 18 saves to make – but he made them all.   Khudobin played brilliantly, dispelling a potent ranger attack that pressed throughout the match.  In the end it was a battle of backup goaltenders – although it would have been fun to see our Cam vs. theirs.

Carolina reminded me of the Rangers under Tom Renney, great motivated defense but not enough offence.    It’s so much nicer under Alain Vigneault where we can score some goals and not have to be perfect on defense every night.

Of course – we were perfect on D this time – and the Rangers got the 1-0 win and their 6th straight

Did Special teams decide this Game?  The Rangers were 0-3 on the powerplay but killed of the lone Hurricane’s penalty.  So I guess it’s “no”. 

Where we stand:  The Rangers at 17-10-4 now hold possession of 3rd place in the Metro Division – tied with the Capitals at 38 points – but holding a game at hand and an additional regulation win versus the Ovechkins.

Now What?  Next up is the same team we’ve been battling with for 3rd in the division – the Washington Capitals – who we face Tuesday.    

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Five In A Row! Rangers Are Finer Than Carolina

These are good holiday times in Ranger Town as your hockey club just keeps finding ways to win.  Saturday night had many unpleasant features that we often see in Ranger losses:
  •   Disallowed Ranger Goal
  •   Giving up the go-ahead goal 20 seconds after tying the score
  •   Outplaying and outshooting their opponent – only to trail after a breakaway.
  •   The shootout

But – somehow – despite all of the above – your New York Rangers – who never led in this game -, fought back from two separate deficits to send the game into OT, and then won it on the shootout.

The first period was dominated by the Rangers everywhere except the scoreboard, where a two-on-one – that McDonagh almost broke up resulted in a goal by Chris Terry that put the Hurricanes up 1-0.  And the score stayed that way going into the third period –despite the Rangers outshooting Carolina 24-13 after two.

So on to the third, where the hard working Rangers finally solved Cam Ward.  Mats Zuccarello threaded a perfect pass through to J.T. Miller just as he was entering the offensive zone.  Miller darted in on Ward and beat him with a beautiful deke and soft toss in the net – and the Rangers, at long last, were tied at 4:07 of the third period.

They didn’t get long to enjoy it though.  A neutral zone turnover lead to a bad angle shot by Jeff Skinner – that somehow got by Hank – who appeared furious with himself after letting the Hurricane quickly regain their lead.

An apparent tying goal was waved off inside of 8 minutes.  Brassard – back from his bout with the mumps – was in the crease and in a bizarre sequence – Cam Ward threw off his own mask.  The Referees took note and when the puck was shot in the net – they waved the goal off in a sequence that the NHL will want to review.  From our vantage point – this looked like a bad call – but thankfully it didn’t finish off the Rangers  

Despite all these setback and bad puck-luck the Rangers kept their heads up and kept working to re-tie the game.  And with 2:27 left in regulation – the career year of Kevin Klein continued as he let loose a perfect slapper from the point that beat Ward and tied the hockey game (and was Kevin’s 7th on the year).  

The game went to overtime and then on to the shootout.  And in the skill competition, Mats Zuccarello used his hand speed to beat Ward high to his left.  And – with a determined and demonstrative Henrik Lundqvist slamming the door – that was all the Rangers needed – as they steal this one 3-2 after trailing for more than 50 regulation minutes before pulling out the win.

A nice, huge, emotional win for our fellows. 

Did Special Teams Determine the Outcome of this game?  I’d say yes -0 because the Rangers were 1-2 on the powerplay while running a perfect 4-4 on the PK. 

Where We Stand:  The win puts us back in the playoffs as we grab the 8th and final spot in the East – tied with Florida at 32 points but with a game at hand and more regulation wins.  And with the Capitals beating down the Devils Saturday – we trail them by 2 points for third place in the metro division – but have 2 big games at hand.

Now What?  It’s a back-to-back home-and-home so the Rangers return Sunday night to MSG to face the same Carolina Hurricanes. 
Nice win – Dave Pucks out and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rangers Douse Flames 5-2 for 4th Straight Win

Playing their third game in four nights the Rangers flew past the Calgary Flames – bombing them for 5 goals and completing a sweep of their three game western road swing.
The first period featured a pair of unusual unassisted Ranger scores.

After a series of Ranger breakaways that netted nothing (three in the first minute) – followed by a shorthanded flurry by the Flames that had them dominating the Rangers despite the extra skater - New York finally cashed in on a puck that traveled nearly half way around the rink on the boards.  It started as a dump into the Ranger zone on a line change.  Calgary shot the puck around the right hand boards – Lundqvist tried to slow it and missed – and the puck continued around the left boards and rocketed to center.  At the point – Rick Nash - the Ranger’s leading goal scorer – realized the opportunity and headed into the Calgary zone as the puck reached him like a perfect pass.  Caught in a line change – the Flames were late covering and Nash skated right in on Karri Ramo.  From there Rick deked the Flame’s goaltender, crossed left in front of him – drawing contact from Calgary’s late-arriving defenseman – and directed the puck around Ramo’s right pad and into the net.   

The Game stayed 1-0 until the final seconds of the first.  With time running down and the Rangers with the man advantage – Zuccarello fired a slapshot that Ramo handled – but as Russell – his defensemen – tried to softly feed the pack back to his goalie – Chris Kreider darted forward and skimmed the puck down Ramo’s leg and into the net at 19:52.

In the 2nd Nash got his 2nd of the night off a pretty Stepan feed for a 3-1 lead.  And then Stepan scored himself on a pretty wraparound at 11:15 that sent Ramo to the showers for the night trailing 4-1.  In came Hiller and the Flames battled back for their first goal less than a minute later.  Still the Rangers and Lundqvist stiffened their defense and they headed to the final period with a 4-1 lead

The third period was scoreless despite offensive pressure by the home team.  Then – with a lengthy 4+ minutes to go – the Flames pull their goalie.  And for the second time in recent memory – Carl Hagelin used his smarts and his speed to score an empty netter for the 5-1 lead with three minutes to go.  This put Hiller back in the net.  But then – after a Marc Staal cross checking penalty – Calgary scored with the extra skater at 18:45 and it was 5-2.

For some reason, the Flames – who had pulled their goalie at 4-1 with 4 minutes to go – declined to do so at 5-2 with a minute 15 to play.   And so, soon enough time expired and the Rangers had their 4th straight win.

Assists for Stepan, Girardi, St. Louis, Hayes, Stempniak, and yes Lundqvist.  J.T. Miller left the game and went to the locker room - but later returned to the bench and played – a welcome sight with Brassard out of the lineup with the Mumps (the 14th NHL player to catch the Mumps this year). 

Hank ended up stopping 29 of the 31 shots he faced for a save percentage of 0.935%.

Did Special Teams Decide This Hockey game?  Well, the Rangers had a Power Play goal – a shorthanded goal and an empty netter while only letting up one PPG to the Flames.  On the other hand – even strength they outscored Calgary 2-1, so you can go either way on this one.

Where We Stand: The Rangers rise to their season high of 15-10-4, which puts them in 3rd place in the Metro – tied with the Caps in points after Washington’s shootout loss, but with a game at hand.

Now What?  More days off for our heroes who rest until Saturday when they begin a home-and-home at the Hurricanes.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rangers Blank Oilers 2-0

The thing about the Edmonton Oilers is that they can’t score.  Their goals per game average of 2.1 is 29th in a league of 30 teams.   It reminds me of the old Rangers – under John Tortorella who could defend but could not put the puck in the net.   

But – happily – this year’s Rangers are something of an offensive powerhouse.  They are – incredibly – 5th in the NHL is goals scored with 2.96.  You out that together with what we think Henrik Lundqvist is capable of and this could be a special year. 

Last night – The Rangers did not get the huge opening jump they got against Vancouver the night before.  In fact, they didn’t get a shot on goal until 10:42 of the first period.  But at 16:04 it was Dan Girardi who ended up breaking through.  The Ranger defender threw the puck at the crease from an impossible angle – hoping to feed Mats Zuccarello.   Zuke missed the puck completely, but it caromed off an Olier’s skate and into the net – a lucky goal and – as it turned out – all the Rangers 
would need.

In fact, it was such a flukey goal (Editor – I’m not sure Flukey is a word) (Dave Pucks – I know and I’m using it anyway) that Girardi, despite notching the game winner – was not on of the 3 stars of the game.

But Henrik Lundqvist – with his 5th shutout of the year (55th lifetime) made sure the lone Ranger goal stood up.  Of course – the Ranger defense and the lack of Oiler offense were big contributors – Edmonton only managed 16 shots on goal. 

The final goal was by Carl Hagelin, who gained possession of the puck in the game’s final minute – with the Oiler net empty – and used his speed to become the only player on either team in the Edmonton defensive zone.  All alone – Hagelin scored the empty netter at 19:38 of the third to give the Rangers the 2-0 victory.

Loose Pucks:  One more item to note – Brassard had to sit out because he is the 14th NHL player this year diagnosed with the Mumps. 

Did Special Teams Decide This Game?  Only sort of.  The Rangers killed off two power plays – but failed to score on their only man advantage.

Where We Stand:  The Rangers happy little three game win streak still has them 1 point behind the 3rd place Capitals in the metro (with a game at hand) but their 32 points currently  has them with the 8th and final playoff spot in the East.  We’ll take it

Now What?  After 2 games in 2 days – The Rangers get a day off before heading to Calgary to take on the Flames.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Rangers Vanquish Vancouver 5-1 in a “Tale Of Two Millers”

It was the best of Millers, it was the worst of Millers…

The Best: The Ranger’s J. T. Miller has had his season and career rise from the ashes as the young forward has been yanked from the AHL and landed right into Chris Krieder’s spot on the Rangers 2nd line.  And for the 2nd consecutive game – Miller delivered with a goal on a single shot, 3 hits and a plus one on the night.       

The Worst: Ryan Miller, Canuck’s goalie and Ranger hater was just blitzed, giving up 3 goals on his first 4 shots.  But to be fair, the former US Olympic hero had no chance on most of those.

Out Coached:  Alain Vigneault had spotted the Canucks tendency to cheat their defensemen forward – and had his men ready.  Over and over again in the first period – the Blueshirts caught Vancouver pinching in, pounced on them, forced odd man rushes and cashed in.

It was a three goal barrage in the first.  The Captain scored first – finishing a 3 on 1 with a easy tap in off a perfect pass by Jesper Fast.  43 seconds later came JT’s goal and at 3:19 of the first it was already 2-0 Rangers

Brassard and Nash found Mats Zuccarello three minutes later and the rout was on.

In the 2nd Marc Staal scored through traffic and then little Mats Z got his 2nd of the night (6th of the year) (it was 2 goals on 2 shots!) and it was 5-0.  Vancouver broke up the shut out off a Ranger defensive zone turnover when Nick Bonino beat Hank high on the glove side (just like they’re all taught to shoot an Hank).

But a great road win for our heroes who showed energy and jump and no sluggishness after a long layoff and big trip out west. 

Did Special teams decide this game?  No.  Just one penalty all night, a McDonagh trip in the third that the Rangers killed off. 

Where we Stand:  The Ovechkins won again so we are three points out third place and the final playoff spot in the Metro.  But we hold two games at hand so if we can keep winning….

Now What?  The team travels on to Edmonton to play an Oiler team that beat the Rangers 3-1 on November 7th but have only won once since.  I’m sure both teams remember that.  Dave Pucks Out and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Goodness returns! Rangers defeat flightless waterfowl 4-3 in overtime.

December 8th is a day that will live in… well, we’ll  probably remember it for a while, anyway.  Against our arch rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Rangers rallied back from a 1-0 deficit, took a 3-1 lead, gave it all away and then won in OT.

This year’s Ranger team may have trouble defending – but they can score.

Trailing 1-0 in the 2nd, Marty St. Louis unleashed another perfect pass – this time to J. T. Miller, who had a lot of net to shoot at and did not miss.

And at 8:40 a lucky bounce found Rick Nash alone on front of the net and his resurgent year continues as he deked Marc Andre Fleury for his 18th goal of the year and the Rangers were up 2-1.
In the third it was the rookie Kevin Hayes on a breakaway unassisted and it looked like the Rangers were in good shape up 3-1.

But then – for the 2nd straight game the Rangers had their “Muck It Up Minute” (you heard it here first).

It was less actually.  24 seconds. From 15:17 to 15:41.  I don’t want to go into details but – it was 3-3.  The penguins are not that bad a team either.

So on the Overtime.  And there – the career year of Kevin Klein continued.  On what looked like a double screened shot – Kevin beat Fleury (who got a piece of the shot) and the Rangers had their 4-3 win.

So – the return of goodness and the Rangers are once again tied with the Capitals for the 3rd and last playoff spot in the Metro division.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

More Defeats! Rangers lose to Wings 3-2

Can we please play Philly again?  The Rangers, after a 5 day layoff, played a spirited 1st period – took a 2-0 lead and then proceeded to hand the game back to the Detroit Red Wings,
ultimately losing the contest 3-2 and upsetting my friend Chris Crease to the point that he had to mute the sound in order to emotionally get himself through the game.

Things started well enough.  Kevin Klein got the Rangers on the board with his 5th goal of the season – his best offensive year ever and we’re still early in the season.  Assists by Hayes and Hagelin.  

Then, at 14:48 is was Nash, on a breakaway off a great feed by Brassard. 

And then – well, you might as well have switched off the TV.  The Red Wings got two in the 2nd and the winner in the 3rd.  Cam Talbot played okay – but the Rangers just couldn’t hold the lead or extend it or regain it or tie the score. 

The worst sequence was the extended 5-3 man advantage that the Rangers had in the third period but couldn’t capitalize on.  All together the Red Wings were shorthanded from 9:13 to 14:37 of the third period – more than 5 consecutive minutes – but the Blueshirts could not find a way to even the game at 3. 

A bad night – and a continued fall from grace.  With the Capitals beating the Devils tonight the Rangers tumble out of 3rd place in the Metro and lost their playoff spot – though they do have the game at hand. 

Next up is Monday and the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Tough times in Ranger town.

It's Cam Tonight vs. Wings

Hi!  We're back on the air here after a 4 day hiatus (and frankly, I have no idea what a hiatus is even though we were on one).

Not much has changed since Wednesday:  Your Rangers still cling to a playoff spot - tied for 3rd in the Metro with the capitals - but holding a handy game at hand.  

Tonight we face the Detroit Red Wings (13-6-5) - who jumped to the Eastern conference in a inexplicable move that still really annoys the puck out of me.  (Editor - I just had to clean that up - let's move on to the starting lineups).

Yes - here are the starting lineups.  Note that Cam Talbot has the start in goal even though the Rangers have had several days off.  Also notice that Tanner Glass (plus-minus of -9 and he's got the mumps!) is sitting.  Also Duclair is out and I'm thinking maybe they will send him down for the year after all.

Rick Nash -- Derick Brassard --Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider -- Derek Stepan -- Martin St. Louis
Carl Hagelin -- Kevin Hayes -- Lee Stempniak
J.T. Miller -- Dominic Moore -- Jesper Fast
Ryan McDonagh -- Dan Girardi
Marc Staal -- Dan Boyle
Matt Hunwick -- Kevin Klein
Cameron Talbot

See you all after it's over.  Pucks out!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Don't Spank The Hank!

There's been some nasty talk and newspaper articles recently about Henrik Lundqvist - the man who has been long acknowledged as the Rangers Best Player.  

We've always believed that for the Rangers to win the Stanley Cup - Hank has to be extraordinary.  

Well - he hasn't been extraordinary.  He's been ordinary.  And he's been worse than regular ordinary.  he's been Extra-ordinary.  (Editor - isn't that the same as extraordinary?)  (Dave Pucks - no - it's the opposite.)  (Ed - Well, it's got the same exact letters in the same exact order)  (Dave Pucks - yeah but that dash changes everything)

We're more than a quarter way into this season - and Henrik's stats are, well, nothing short of alarming.

At Blueshirts-Brothers.com  we're big believers in save percentage.  And for many happy year's Hank was one of the league leaders.  But not now.  

It's not that he's fallen out of the top ten.  He has - but it's worse than that.  And he's not in then top 20 either.  Look it's like this:

Number 36?  Yikes!  Now, we had half of our defense hurt for a while there - and McDonagh is still playing his way back into form after a separated shoulder.  But still - 36th?

Our view over here at Blueshirt-Brothers.com is that everyone should calm down and have some patience.  The bright side is obvious.  If the Rangers are above .500 with a sub par goalie - how good will they be when Lundqvist starts playing like, well, Lundqvist?

He started out slowly last year and ended up playing pretty well in the playoffs.  I'll bet he can do it again.

Dave Pucks over and out - and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Again with the Badness! Ranger fall to Tampa

I guess the best thing we can say at this point is that we don’t have to face the Lightning again in the regular season – and if we can avoid them in the playoffs – we never have to see them again at all
The Rangers got three goals – they limited Tampa Bay to 20 shots – and were still blown off the Garden ice 6-3.  Another ugly loss in a series of them with the Lightning – a series which is now, thankfully, over, but in which the Rangers were swept. 
Hank’s save percentage?  It was a dreadfully ordinary 0.750%.  You can’t beat anyone like that.

You wants some positives?  Give me a minute.

Our offense keeps working and scoring.    Another goal for Marty St. Louis – his 10th on the year.  And the youngsters keep contributing – a goal each for Fast and Hayes.  Assists for Stempniak, Brassard, Stepan, McDonagh, Nash and Hagelin.

Did Special teams decide this game?  Not exactly.  We were 1-5 on the powerplay.  Tampa was 1-4.  (Editor: we killed off a 5-on-3) (Dave Pucks: Yeah, but the Lightning’s 3rd goal came after the 5-on-3 when our exhausted players couldn't clear or get off the ice in time.)  So we were kind of outscored 2-1 on the powerplay – but we were also outscored at even strength 3-2 even if you remove the empty netter and that aforementioned exhaustion goal after the 5-on-3.  (Editor: “Aforementioned” means that Dave talked about it earlier).  So we would have lost even if there were no powerplay goals.

Honestly – the positive is that we’ve got more scoring ability this year.  So when we can’t shut an opponent down – we can still stay in the game.  If we can score three goals and limit the other guys to 20 shots – I’ll take my chances most nights.  But not last night.

Where we stand: We still hold the 3rd and final playoff spot in the Metro division.  The hated Capitals trail us by 2 points with a game at hand.

Next: Our heroes don’t play again until Saturday when they will take on the Red Wings in Detroit.  So settle in for a long Ranger-less week. 

Don't despair, Ranger fans, those nasty men from Florida are gone now and they won't bother us again.  Dave Pucks over and out - and thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Another Day, Another Win over Philly – Rangers sweep the home + home series

Okay – I think the Rangers have figured out the magic formula to beat the Philadelphia Flyers:

Step 1: Score 3 or more goals. 

Step 2: Let up less than 3 goals.

It’s worked twice in a row now.  Today – on Black Saturday (if that’s what we can call the day after Black Friday) the Rangers outshot Philly 34 to 23 – and when you do that and have Henrik Lundqvist in goal you’re usually going to win.

The Flyers made a game of this one – fighting back from 0-1 to take a 2-1 lead that was 2-2 after 2 periods.  But in the third it was all Rangers and we scored 3 times – the last one an empty netter. 

Emory’s save percentage was only .882% to Hank’s .913%.  And here’s the scoring:

Brassard had a pair (if you know what I mean)  (Editor - knock it off).  Stempniak had the last one.  Jesper Fast, back in the lineup, made the most of the opportunity with a wrist shot that was too, well, “fast” for Emory to stop.  (Editor - Oy!)  And J. T. Miller, back from the minors, had one of the prettiest goals of the Ranger season – a perfectly executed wrap around that pretty much “executed” the Flyers chances of winning.  (Editor – enough with the quotes, you “skilled” “writer”, you) (Dave Pucks – OK)

Healthy Scratches

     - Dan Boyle – He’s been great but the hand is still healing.
     - Tanner Glass – was minus 2 vs. Tampa Bay.
     - Chris Kreider – he lost a grandparent this week – and he’s been playing a bit out of control lately – no goals in 9 games and that cross check in the Lightning game followed by the double minor in Philadelphia. 

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  No.  Flyers and Rangers each scored once on the PP.

Where we stand:  As we write the – the Rangers (11-8-4) are two points up on the Washington Capitals – who are trailing the Toronto Maple Leafs from a 5-1 score in the third.  If that holds up (down?) Your Blueshirts will be in sole possession of 3rd place in the Metro Division, clinging to a 2 point lead with just, uh, how many games left Mr. Editor? 

(Editor: 59 games left – too early to scoreboard watch).

Maybe he’s right.  Dave Pucks out - and thanks for tuning in.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Blue Friday! Rangers Blank Flyers – again!

Ah yes – maybe we can’t beat the Lightning – but at the opposite end of the spectrum (Editor – is that a former Flyer’s arena name pun?) (Dave Pucks – not intentionally – but I’ll take it) we have the Rangers recent mastery over the Flyers.

For the 2nd time in a week – Cam Talbot comes in – comes on – stops the bleeding – and shuts out the Philadelphia Flyers.  This time it’s a 3-0 finish that includes a few choice elements:
     Marty St. Louis scored his 1000th (and 1001st) career NHL points.  And he is only the 5th ever undrafted player to do so. 

      Ryan McDonagh returned to the lineup after an 11 game absence and we are whole again.  And Ryan collected an assist to boot.
     Our special teams won the game with a Power Play and Shorthanded goal.

     The key sequence was when Chris Kreider committed another brainless penalty – a double minor – and the Rangers had to defend for 4 minutes.  Instead of the Flyers making a game of it – your heroes quickly sprung a 3-1 break (with only 4 Rangers on the ice, no less) and Nash scored to put the game away.

We’ll play them again tomorrow – but can Hank match Cam’s performance?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! (Oh - and we lost to Tampa Bay)

Okay – maybe we shouldn't play the Tampa Bay Lighting anymore.  First of all – they always beat us.  Last night 4-3, for example – with the Rangers squandering a 2-1 lead.  But it’s really much more than that. 

The worse problem is that the Lightning are like the ghosts of Rangers past.  They’re dead as Rangers but still alive and well and skating around on Tampa Bay – shooting – scoring – and making us sad to think about what might have been.  Like imagine if, like, Callahan were somehow still on the Rangers in the finals last year and scored in one of those overtime games.  I could drive myself insane doing this.  (Editor – on a related note: Tyson Chandler was doing a similar “blast from the past” to the New York Knicks at the exact same time.)

So – twice now in a week – Tampa Bay has bombed the Rangers for many goals – 4 this time.  Two by Callahan – just to rub it in.  The Lightning seems to have the puck all of the time.  And we were outshot 29-19.  3 goals on 19 shots is pretty good – but not enough last night.

For our heroes – there were first period goals by Mats Zuccarello (assisted by Nash) and by Dan Boyle (assisted by Derek and Derick – Stepan and Brassard).  Dan Boyle - by the way – played his best game as a Ranger – and has really seemed to help out Powerplay – which is how he scored his goal.   The Rangers final tally was a gritty one man show of will, determination, and strength as his muscled the puck away from defenders, skated across the middle and fired the puck past Bishop.  It brought the Rangers back to 4-3 – but they could get it no closer. 

Did Special Teams Determine the Outcome Of This Game?  I guess so, unfortunately, as the Lightning got two PPGs to our one.

Where we stand:  Thanks to the Islanders who couldn’t beat the Capitals until OT (Ovechkin had 2 goals) – the Rangers now sit tied with the Caps at 22 points – in third place – for the last playoff spot in the Metropolitan division (and 3 points out of the Wild Card).    
Next up:  A day off – thankfully – and then the Flyers at 1pm on Friday.

Anyway – Happy Thanksgiving from Dave Pucks, Edward Editor, Chris Crease, and the entire support staff here at Blueshirt-Brothers.com.  Save the drumstick for me!  (Actually – don’t do that – it doesn’t make any sense).