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  Save the drumstick for me!  (Actually – don’t do that – it doesn’t make any sense).

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Game Day: Will the Lightning Strike Twice?

Happy Thanksgiving Eve everybody.  Today when so many are traveling to be with loved ones for the Holiday – our beloved New York Rangers are traveling out of town  - down to Florida – to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In the last 6 games – the Rangers have 3 shut out wins – two against first place teams – by a combined score of 12-0.  And we have two shoot out losses where we collected two more points.  But the one really bad spot in that 6 game stretch was our loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning – at home – by a lopsided score of 5-1. 

Tonight the Rangers will either avenge that loss – or take more of the same.  The Lightning has a whiff of the familiar about them.  Like us, they once had John Tortorella coach them – but they won the cup with him.  They were the former homes of Brad Richards and Marty St. Louis.  And they are current home of ex-Rangers Ryan Callahan, Anton Stralman, and Brian Boyle.  So a lot of bloodlines there.  The ex-Rangers exorcized their demons when they visited the garden last week.  But today will be Marty St. Louis’ first return to his old arena after spending well over a decade in their uniform.

Where They Stand:  If Vancouver’s 2-0 lead over the Devils holds up for another 5 minutes of game time – the Rangers (with 22 points at 9-7-4) will find themselves precariously in third place in the Metropolitan division – and as such – in the playoffs if they started today – which they wouldn’t because it’s only November – but you see what I mean.   The Lightning – on the other hand – are a 2nd place team in the Atlantic division (with 30 points at 14-6-2) and have a decent grip on a playoff spot of their own.

Is He Back Yet?:  No – but Ryan McDonagh is finally practicing with the team.  He should be back on the ice in a week or two.

There’s more to say – but it’s after midnight and I’ll leave it for tomorrow.  Dave Pucks out and thanks for stopping by

Monday, November 24, 2014

Blueshirts Beat the Best (Badly)

Well, all of you Ranger fans who witnessed live the Ranger's 5-0 drubbing of the first place – former playoff foe - Montreal Canadiens had a much better time than I did last night. I was watching the Giants lose in the final 2 minutes to Dallas – while sitting amid a sea of loud drunk Cowboy fans.

I would have much rather been with you (even if I did see what may be the GREATEST CATCH IN THE HISTORY OF PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL- so amazing in fact that in real time my brain could not process what my eyes had just seen. I thought we were cheering the interference flag – and only gradually realized that Odell had - incredibly - caught the ball with 3 fingers!).

But – back to hockey - what you all got to see was the Rangers showing once again what they are capable of when they focus and do the work for a full 60 minutes. Montreal is one of the league's best teams – the best if you count up all their standings points - and (like the Penguins last week) the Rangers dismantled them. Just took them apart. Bombed them for 5 goals. Shut them out. Limited them to 10 shots on goal in the final 2 periods. Hank only had to save 20 overall. And if you score 5 goals and limit Hank to 20 shots against – you can bet the neighborhood that the Rangers will win.

Now – before we get ahead of ourselves – we didn't face the Canadien's number one net minder. It was Dustin Tokarski – not Carey Price who let us the 5 spot to the Blueshirts. But I don't think Carey would have made this a 0-0 OT game either. The Rangers had jump – poise playmaking – and everything in between.

Marty St. Louis took over the game in the 2nd – making a perfect pass to Derek Stepan for Ranger goal number 2 and stealing the puck from Alexi Emelin and beating Tokarski to make it 3-0.

In the 3rd it was nice to see Duclair get an assist and Hagalin a goal for 4-0. And then – who else from the Ranger's leading goal scorer Rick Nash to round out the scoring.

For here it's 2 days off and then a rematch with the Tampa Bay Lighting team that embarrassed the Rangers a few days ago. I'm thinking we'll show a little more fight this time. Dave Pucks out and thanks for looking in on us.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Game Night: Rangers Vs. Canadiens

A friend once advised me not to use the word “hate” when associated with rival hockey teams – that the term was hurtful and that it tended to perpetuate the same base human “caveman” thinking that can, if unchecked, lead to bigotry, war, and genocide.

After some soul-searching and careful thought - what I have learned from this experience is to stop associating with that friend.  But I don’t hate that friend – which hopefully is an indication of some sort of emotional growth on my part.  Or maybe not at all.

Anyway – in the world of hockey there are the Rangers – who we love – and then two other categories of other teams:

1 – Teams we don’t have much of an opinion about (Colorado?  Winnipeg? – Are they even in the league), and 

2 – Teams we hate (and this is a MUCH LARGER CATEGORY)

And for category #2 what’s interesting is that we hate these rival teams in all sorts of different ways.  For example – we dislike the Kings in a whole different way than we dislike the Flyers – which is in turn different from our dislike of the Penguins.  And don’t get me started on the Capitals.  Or the Islanders.  Or the Devils.

It’s really quite a testament to the human condition.   We Ranger fans - as living breathing feeling human beings - have such a varied, complex, and textured ability to dislike so many other teams in so many unique and different ways.  It’s really a beautiful thing when you think about it. 

 So.  Montreal.  I think what is interesting here is that the Habs (and no I don’t remember what that term comes from) (Editor – should I look it up?) (Dave Pucks – No.)….

Where was I?  What is interesting about the Habs is that they, in all probability, hate us much more than we hate them.  Now, the bad feelings about the 1979 Stanley Cup finals have kind of blown over by now (not for me – honestly – but for most of you) , but last year’s semi final round still looms large in our collective memories.  (Editor – you completely lost me.)  (Dave Pucks – that’s not hard to do, Ed) (Editor – who has a large loom and who is collecting memories from whom?)  (Ignoring you, Ed, and continuing on).

The reason Montreal hates us is that last year, in the Stanley Cup Semi playoffs – our new York Rangers defeated the Canadiens after injuring their start Goalie Carey Price in game one. 

(For the record – Chris Kreider was pushed from behind and didn’t have a whole lot of control as he skidded on what is designed to be a super-slippery surface toward a player who is covered in literally hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of padding.   And before they realized how serious the injury was – Price, his coach, and his teammates all told the press they realized the injury was accidental.  It wasn’t until they realized that Price was out for the season that they engaged in the worst sort of revisionist history – now claiming that Kreider hurt price on purpose – and using this as a rallying cry to try and ignite their franchise to raise its effort level.  It was disingenuous.)  (Editor – that means they knew they were lying and said it anyway) (Dave Pucks – I know that)  (Editor – I know you know that – I’m explaining it to the folks out there that don’t know that).

Anyway – Montreal hates us more than we hate them.  And they’re a good first place team over there in the Atlantic Division (a division name that as far as I can tell means absolutely nothing).  So – my point is (Editor – you’re finally getting to your point?)  (Dave Pucks – well I was until you interrupted). 

Anyway (again) my point is – the Rangers had better be ready to play their best game – or they will be pushed off the rink like those ice chips that are swept away by that guy with the little broom who – you know – sweeps them away.  (It sounded much better in my head than it looks on the page.)  

(Editor – feel bad about that, Dave) (Dave Pucks – Yes - I'm on it.)     

I’ll be at the Giants game tonight with Chris Crease – but I’ll be back to post the post game later on.  Lets Go Rangers – Pucks Out.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Too Soon?

My good buddy Christopher Crease tells me it’s way too early to be scoreboard watching.  We’re not even at the quarter pole on this season, after all.

But I say “Hooey!”  (and don’t make me say it again).

I mean, the Atlantic division has both of the wild card slots right now - and they have 6 teams with more points than the 4th place Rangers do.

And if that holds up – the Rangers will need to finish 3rd in the eastern Conference to make the playoffs.  So that’s means we need to catch either:

  • The Penguins
  • The Islanders
  • Or The Capitals

So is it too early to scoreboard watch?  I say no – because sooner or later we gotta catch one of these guys.  So tonight – when the Penguins play the Islanders on the back end of a home and home – I was rooting Penguins to keep the Islanders closer to us.  But – naturally – the Islanders won tonight 4-1.  At least this was in regulation – so the Penguins don’t get the loser point tonight that they got in the previous shootout loss. 

So yes – it’s early – but the Penguins and Islanders are 8 points up on our heroes at the moment.  For now we can set our sights on the 3rd place Capitals – who take on the snow-bound Sabres tonight.

Let’s root Sabres and watch that scoreboard.

Dave Pucks Out!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cam stars as Rangers blank Flyers 2-1


Wow – did we ever need that one!  The Rangers had a huge bounce back game tonight at Madison Square Garden – blanking their hated rivals the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0 behind a tremendous performance by Cam Talbot in goal.  And he was all that was in the Ranger goal because no Flyer shots got past him.

The Rangers were just the better team tonight in downing a Philadelphia team that has not won a game on Ranger home ice since 2011.  The interesting thing is that Steve Mason, the Flyer goaltender – was amazing – collecting 32 saves – including several spectacular ones and was probably the best goaltender on the ice tonight.  Our heroes could have easy scored 4 or 5 goals tonight if not for Mason’s steady hand in the opposing net.
In the 5th minute of the first period, Derek Brassard did some great work keeping the puck alive behind the Flyer net.  Then Carl Hagelin took over – whipping the puck from behind the end line to Kevin Klein who was darting towards the net.  Klein, who leads Ranger defensemen in scoring, snapped the puck past Mason who never had a chance, to give the Rangers the 1-0 lead.

In the second, it was the Rangers on the powerplay that produced goal number two.  A great Stepan pass to Marty St. Louis – who had a great opportunity in close to Mason’s left.  But St. Louis, instead of shooting, zipped a perfect pass across the ice to Rick Nash – who had the puck on his stick and the entire net to shoot at.  Nash notched his 13th goal of the season and the Rangers had their two goal lead.

And it held up.  The Flyers kept mounting pressure in the third – but the Rangers defended well and Cam Talbot saved them all.

I also want to mention one of the several great sequences by St. Louis,  With a melee in front of the Ranger net – Marty slid in to the crease to cover for and out-of-position Talbot and then calmly sticked the puck out of the Ranger crease and out of danger. 
The win stopped the bleeding for a Ranger team that seemed to be reeling as of late.  And if Cam Talbot can keep this up it will be a huge advantage for the Rangers.  If you remember last year – it was Cam who got us through Hank’s slump and gave the King the rest he needs to be in top form come playoff time.

Did Special teams decide this game?  (Editor – are you asking me?) (Dave Pucks – no it’s a literary device – and also a recurring feature in the blog)  (Editor – like me?) (Dave Pucks – no – not like you – this device works).  Anyway – yes special teams decided this game.  The Ranger special teams got a goal on four attempts – and I’ve got to say Dan Boyle makes us looks so much more organized when we have the extra skater.  You can see him talking out there - and directing traffic as he tries to get his fellow Rangers in the right positions.  And as his hand heals and the rust fades – I think we’ll see even more from Boyle – good acquisition by Sather.  (Editor – isn’t this supposed to be about special teams?) (Dave Pucks – okay – I’ll get back to that).  On the Penalty Kill the Rangers were a perfect 4-4 and that was the difference tonight.

So a good game all around for our Rangers – who will face the Flyers 2 more times in the next 11 days.  It was great to rest Hank – it was great to get Cam the shutout – and it was great to win a hockey game – and in regulation no less.

Maybe this gets us started.  Pucks out.

Here come the Flyers

Well kids - we might not feel emotionally ready to play a hockey game - but here come the Flyers to take us on in Madison Square Garden tonight.

And just when you thought you were safe from ex-Rangers - here comes Michael Del Zotto to take on his former teammates.

The Flyers are always tough - in all meanings of that word.

So strap in - here it comes.

More later. Dave Pucks out.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lightning Strikes

Oh poop. I don't even know what to say about this one. If you want a positive – here it is: Madison Square Garden did a nice video tribute to Ryan Callahan – a classy move and one of the few positive moments for the Rangers all day.

One other positive – little old Marty St. Louis scored against his old teammates – briefly making the contest back into a one goal game.

But the rest was bad. 5 goals against – 2 by Ryan Callahan. A loss to Callahan and Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Our defense is still struggling. And it seems that if we don't score at least 3 goals this year – we don't have a chance.

The Rangers fall to 7-7-4. Let's hope this is rock bottom and it's up ice from here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Game Night: Rangers vs. Ex-Rangers

Tonight our beloved Red Pants take on the Tamps Bay Lightning – who come to Madison Square with a trio of ex-Rangers from last year's roster.

Let's start with Ryan Callahan – former Ranger Capitan with (literally) the capital C. Captain Cally always brought the intangibles – but he over-priced himself in the free agent market and ended up losing his home – and his original asking price. When the Rangers thrived without him – surging to the Stanley Cup finals in his absence – it put a new negative spin on all that came before. Out When Ryan – in came Marty St. Louis – and the Rangers were for all appearances better off. That said we will always have a place in our hockey hearts for the forward who always gave 100% (because 110% is not physically possible). It should be interesting to hear how the garden faithful react to his return in a Lightning uniform.

Brian Boyle – a big physical hustling forward who – if he could accurately shoot the puck – could have been a great player – but I guess that's true of almost everyone. We always liked big Brian – and who can ever forget that it was him that put the Rangers ahead of the Kings – if briefly – in game 5. If that lead had held up – we return to MSG for game 6 and… Don't get me started. It will be interesting to see Dan Boyle checking Brian Boyle – (Boyle on Boyle action!) if that in fact ever happens.

Anton Stralman blossomed into a top 4 defenseman here and is missed – particularly with the injuries and suspensions that has the Rangers playing with not one but two Hartford call up defensemen just a week ago. Anton was a big part of our success last year – but the Salary Cap is what it is and I think Glen Sather has managed it pretty intelligently this past year.

Put that all together and you get a very interesting homecoming tonight.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I hate the penguins (Rangers fall 4-3 in controversial Shootout loss)

Okay – there are lot of emotions to process here – but let me start by saying that I dislike the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

I hate them actually.  I hate Sidney Crosby.  I hate that Malkin is so much better than Crosby but never gets the credit for it.  And I just really hate the Penguins.  So this terrible won-then-lost reversal of fortune thing tonight really upsets me.  And if the Rangers finish one point out of the playoffs….

You know what.  That’s just too terrible to contemplate.  I have to set that one aside as best I can and plow ahead.

Okay – big picture.  We got three points to the Penguins two in the home and home.  They’re a really good and really hot team – so we should take that.

But crap – we nearly won it.  I mean – we were in the locker room taking off our skates when the refs pulled us back on the ice.  But let’s start at the beginning.
In the first, Blake Comeau’s shot hits Lundqvist but tragically trickles in.  But then – just 15 seconds later Lee Stempnicak jumps on a rebound and snaps it past Marc-Andre Fluerry in a flurry in front of the net to tie it (Editor – yes we see what you did there – but we don’t like it). 

Later in the first – with the Rangers on the Powerplay (a powerplay that looks more organized since Dan Boyle got back on the ice) Marty St. Louis directed in one of his classic tough angle shots for a 2-1 lead. 

And, oh, how we could have used one more goal. 

In the third – Evgeni Malkin – the Penguin’s best player – found a way past Lundqvist off a terrible defensive zone give-away by Dan Boyle.  Malkin hit the post – but the puck found 
Henrik’s back and then the back of the net.

And a few minutes later it was to Overtime we went.  And in the extra period Sidney Crosby got a breakaway that Hank stoned him on.  And then again – in the last 5 seconds – Hank stopped a Khris Letang breakaway to get us to the shootout.

And then things got just plain weird.  Stepan scored on the shoot out as did Crosby (that crybaby overrated rat).  Round three ended with Dan Boyle apparently beating Marc-Andre to end the game.  The Rangers celebrated.  In fact they left the ice and went to the locker room.  But there is that Bad Luck Boyle thing that we told you about just the other day.  And so here comes the boom: 

The Refs, damn them, called our heroes back on the ice.  What the replay shows is the puck hitting the post – then Boyle’s stick and then into the goal.  That was ruled a double-hit and the refs went into the dressing rooms to get the half-undressed players back out on the ice. 

For his part – Lundqvist was a stand-up guy about the whole thing:

Said Hank: "We came in here and I asked [Boyle about the goal] and when he explained it to me, I had a bad feeling we would have to go back out there."

So Lundqvist kept his pads on for a few minutes – trying to stay ready just in case.  And it turned out his worst fears were realized.  Hank said of the process:

"You want it to be right. If we were in that situation and found out it was the wrong call, you'd be very upset. … You have to be right."

So back out they went and the shootout resumed. And the Penguins ended up scoring and winning in round 4.

It’s a tragic tale of heartbreak and wasted opportunities.  But it’s also a point in the standings.  It’s a shame – but all we can do is take the point and move on.

And as bad as the shootout has been to us recently – remember that there is no shootout in the playoffs – so if there’s something we have to be bad at – let it be something they ain’t got in the playoffs. 

Assuming we get there and don’t finish one point short!  That’s it – now I won’t be able to sleep again tonight.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Game Night: Again With The Penguins?

Boys and girls you know the deal. Tonight our heroes take on a Penguins team that we defeated 5-0 two games ago. My expert analysis: they're mad and will try to beat us. Oh, and Crosby sucks. More after the game, Pucks out!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Rangers battle back - take lead - lose lead - and lose in OT to Avalanche

Oy – that 3-3 tying goal.  It’s haunting my dreams.

The Rangers had battled back from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to bring a 3-2 lead into the third period.  And then – 8 minutes in to the third - the powerplay shot from Nathan MacKinnon.  It came at Lundqvist low along the ice.  And Hank had his stick down and the blade caught the shot cleanly. 


Hank keeps his stick at and angle to the ice – so that hard shott will defelect up And over the net.  And also – I guess – because if you hold the stick out in front of you and press it to the ice – it’s at an angle,  So the puck hits Hank’s stick and pops up over it.  Still looking harmless. 


The puck is headed five-hole.  It’s going directly between The King’s legs.  Hank is hip to this as well and pulls the leg pads together.


The puck slips through – and crosses the goal line. 

Tie game.  Overtime.  And then the shootout.  And despite a shootout goal by the Derek Stepan – the Rangers lose the shootout 2-1, and the game 4-3.

So our heroes lose.  But at least they got a point for the regulation tie – their 6th overtime game in 16 contests.

No goals for Nasher tonight but he did get an assist.  Goals for Hayes – Stepan (plus his shoot out goal) and Girardi (the first for a Ranger defenseman not named Kevin Klein).

Additional assists by Moore, Stepan, Zuccarello, and Hunwick.  Hank’s save percentage was just under .900.  Tanner Glass did some general punching.  Dan Boyle returned - looked a bit rusty - but played better as the contest went on.   

Did Special teams decide this contest?  Yes, unfortunately.  Rangers were 0-3 on the powerplay while giving up the tying goal going 2-3 on the penalty kill. 

And I’ll mention that the Avalanche Goalie Varlamov has been a Ranger nemesis for years.  If you recall – back in April of 2009 we showed the following visual comparison (look to the left).  Old "Volde" may come up a bit short in the nasal department - but he's definitely less scary to Ranger fans than the other guy. 

Rough night in Ranger town.  But we keep on with the scoring.  I like that.  And the defense is gradually getting healthier – but we’ll be even better once our captain returns.  Dave Pucks Out - and thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Game Night: Boyle!

I can hear it now: Glen Sather: "We lost Bryan Boyle to free agency? I'm not going to just throw away all those Boyle jerseys. Get me another Boyle!"

And so - despite the departure or our old friend "hands of stone" (last seen giving us one last lead against the LA Kings in game 5) we one again have a Boyle on the Rangers.

I mention this because Dan Boyle the veteran (read that as "old") blue liner will finally - hopefully - be making his home debut in red pants tonight as the Rangers take on the Avalanche.

Dan broke his hand in the season road opener and has been sidelined ever since. And this, honestly, is just the latest in a long line of unlucky events that have followed Boyle throughout his career.

In 2004, Dan was playing in the Stanley Cup finals for John Tortorella's Tampa Bay Lightning when an electrical fire in Boyle's home caused $300,000 in property damage.

And worse, in 2007 a pair of skates fell off a wall in the locker room hitting Dan in the arm blade-first and severing three tendons. Ouch.

But - with all that - Boyle's name is etched on the Stanley Cup. So maybe that's the kind of luck we can use around here. Dave "lucky" Pucks out.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Good Triumphs Over Evil as Rangers Blank Penguins 5-0

Okay – first of all – if you missed this one live - then go watch the replay on MSG.  It is one of the best Ranger wins in a long time.  Your New York Rangers took on the red hot Pittsburgh Penguins and their 7 game win streak and basically dismantled Crosby & Company as completely as you could ever hope to see.

On the heels of a depressing and lifeless 3-1 loss to Edmonton, and after a closed-door players only meeting - the Rangers, despite still missing the injured McDonagh and Boyle, responded with their most complete game of the year. 

The Rangers skated, they hustled, they attacked, they defended, and when the ice chips cleared they had beaten the hated aquatic birds 5-0.  And, as my Dad used to say – the game was not as close as the score would indicate.  The Blueshirts had a goal disallowed with a bogus goaltender interference call – and Marc-Andre Fluery actually made several spectacular saves – otherwise the Rangers could easily have tallied a few more. 

So many standout performances – but let’s start at the back and work forward:

King Me!  That was Henrik Lundqvist’s 53rd Ranger shutout win.  The Penguins definitely had their looks and their chances – but Hank stood tall – or on his head – or whatever the situation called for and stopped every puck that came his way.  Crosby, Malkin and the rest launched 33 shots, but Hank was perfect and that’s your puck-game right there (Editor – “puckgame”?) (Dave Pucks – well, it's not a "ballgame" - you know what I mean).  Although – truth be told – one shot did slip by the King…

They Call Me Mister Glass:  … and Tanner Glass made an awesome save of his own.  With the score 0-0 and Hank fooled by a rising deflection, the puck trickled through the Ranger Goalie and was headed for the back of the net – until Tanner swooped in and sticked it aside just as it reached the goal line.
Fine Mister Klein:  Kevin drilled in a goal from the blue line and now has all three of the Rangers defenseman goals this year – and defended well all game.

Shortie for the Tall Guy - Nash –notched his league leading 12th goal of the year – a shorthander off a beautiful – almost too casual - feed from Derek Stepan.  And it’s fitting pay-it-forward because Rick had two assists earlier, most notably passing up a great opportunity from point blank range to slide a perfect pass to….

Marty St. Louis who calmly slid it into the net for a Ranger goal. 

And – reunited with Stepan (2 assists)Mats Zuccarello notched a goal and is starting to score again after a slow start.

Throw in a tally from Brassard and we get the 5 goal explosion that was your New York Rangers this evening.

7-6-2 on the year now and I’ll take it.  We’ve seen some good and some bad – but my overall impression is – the defense will improve as we get our people back.  But this year’s Rangers – unlike last year’s – have a real ability to put that puck in the net in bunches.  We finally have the Rick Nash we thought we were getting.  Marty St. Louis has plenty left in the tank.  We have two really good lines – the league’s best goaltender (in my opinion anyway).  And one hell of a coach if you ask me – smart – calm – and effective.

So – at this moment anyway – life is looking good for the New York Rangers – who just played their best game of the season – with hopefully more to come.  Too pumped to sleep – but I’ll give it a try.  Dave Pucks over and out!

Game Night: The Good, The Bad, and the Crosby:

When we last saw our heroes they were getting outworked, outscored, and outplayed by an inferior but streaky Edmonton Oiler team. The Blueshirts' effort was questioned – by us – and by their own players and coaching staff. That's "The Bad".

For "The Good" - here come the Pittsburgh Penguins – on a 7 game win streak and focusing all their red hot anger on the team that outlasted them in the playoffs last year – which somehow – is us. They are playing good - but I guess that's also bad - for us.

And the Ugly – Sidney Crosby – the only player whose fake penalty diving so infuriated Henrik Lundqvist that our usually cool and composed goaltender skated out of his crease to yell at the crybaby from close range.

The Rangers better find their game – some grit – some defense – some puck possession – some effort – and some pulse for goodness sake - or this will be an icy fiasco. Dave Pucks out!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Where the Puck is it?

Puck possession. 

All the cool kids know about it.  It’s all about having the puck. Because the puck is kind of important in a hockey game.  You know what I mean.  When the puck leaves the rink – everybody stops until they get a new one.  And hockey games are basically puck possession battles.  One team gets the puck and either scores with it – keeps it – or gives it back to the opposition – who then does the same thing and back and forth until the game ends.

So, the Rangers – after losing Saturday night in Toronto – traveled back to New York to play the Oilers today at 6pm and, well, they didn't possess the puck much.  At all.  For the entire game.

Edmonton possessed the puck.  A lot.  For most of the game.  They out face-offed the Rangers 39 to 29.  (Editor – you know that “faced-offed” is not a word, right?)  (Dave Pucks – don’t start with me Ed, I’m not in the mood.  The Rangers lost tonight and the New York Giants probably lost their season. )  (Editor – look I know, man, but I have to try and edit here – it’s my job) (Dave Pucks – whatever man, just if I were you I’d TREAD LIGHTLY!)
Where was I?  We were out face-offed 39-29.  We were outshot 31 to 21.  We gave the puck away  7 times and Edmonton took away the puck 5 more times.  Put all that together and it means we never had the puck – so we could never do all the cool stuff that the puck possessor can do – like shoot or, you know, score.  Your basic Hockey stuff.

And to make it all worse it was the guy we let get away - Benoit Pouliot – basically beat us single handedly by assisting on the first goal and scoring the go-ahead goal himself.  That stinks.

But here’s what really happened.  The Rangers are playing without Ryan McDonagh and Dan Boyle and “there’s Moore” (see what I did there?  Wasn’t that cool?)  (Editor – not when you call attention to it, no).  So with our defensemen depleted – our remaining blue liners (Staal, Girardi, etc.) are overworked, exhausted, and basically running out of gas – particularly on back to back games that require international travel.  So we were always a step behind – couldn't get the puck – couldn't keep it when they did get it – and couldn’t score when they did keep it.

If you want the bright side – here it is:  Carl Hagelin notched his 4th goal of the season.  And that’s it.  A tough night for our heroes and one we can hopefully bounce back from soon.

Bad day in Rangerville.  We’ll talk tomorrow

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Game Day - Rangers and Edmonton Oilers

Happy Sunday morning Ranger fans (and also to my perpetually angry Editor – whose name is coincidentally Ed - but he’s probably not awake yet this morning because stays out too late carousing and dare I say: gallivanting around).  

Some folks may think of this as Football Sunday – but you and I know it is a Rangers Game Day as our heroes return home from their 4 goals wasted in Toronto last night.  Henrik had to make the trip – just to sit there and watch Cam Talbot slowly turn into Marty Biron (and by that I mean great first season as backup followed by a not-so-good one).  But tonight he clears customs and gets back in net against the Edmonton Oilers – which I will unofficially proclaim as the NHL:’s streakiest team.  Here’s their season – they lost 5 – then won 4 – then lost 4 – then won one.  So we’re on the bad side of the streak.  

But – coach Vigneault (and at least 3 of those consonants are there for no reason at all) (Editor – that’s how Canadians spell things) (Dave Pucks – look who finally woke up.  Rough night Ed?) (Editor – let’s keep this professional – okay?) (Dave Pucks – isn’t it spelled Canadiens with an e near the end) (Editor – don’t try to edit the editor, okay.  You use an “a” in Canadians when you’re talking about the actual countrymen – not the hockey team) (Dave Pucks – okay – relax – I think you’re hung over – I’m moving on) …Coach Vigneault knows that on the road where the opponents have the last line change – our injury-depleted defense is really exposed.  So he’s saving Hank for home games where he can put Girardi or Staal out there against the opponents top lines.  (Editor – that should be opponent’s with an apostrophe)  (Dave Pucks – leave me alone Ed, you know what - I’m not writing anymore this morning.  I was going to show the starting lines but now - forget it)

(Editor – Dave?)

(Editor – Hey Dave?)

(Editor – Uh, folks – I think Dave Pucks stepped away.  The game starts at 6pm.)


Rangers Score Four (Needed More)

Okay – it’s a tough loss – but not really – and here’s why.  Last year’s Rangers fell just short of winning it all – and what failed them in the finals we not enough firepower (not enough goals).  Well, this year – with Stepan back in the lineup the Rangers scored 4 times – and as the season wears on – when we get our defensemen back – and when Lundqvist is in the net – 4 goals will be more than enough.  

There is every reason to believe the defense will get better – and no reason to think the offense will get worse.  Our good defenders are either hurt (McDonagh, Boyle) or suspended (Moore) or overworked/exhausted right now (Girardi, Staal).  Put that together with Cam Talbot in the net and you get – well, tonight you got 5 goals against.  Is that likely to improve as we get healthy – yes it is.

But what’s really encouraging are the goals we’re scoring. 

Line 1 scored – Nash’s league lead tying 11th of the season off a beautiful behind-the-back assist for Little St. Louie (his 7th assist). 

And line 2 – boosted by Stepan’s return - scored twice – one by Kreider in the game’s first minute and a second by Mats Z at 19:20 of the first. 

Line 3 – Hagelin tallied one as well. 

So it’s a regulation loss – but the team, showed toughness and fight on the road and nearly stole one before our depleted defensive core gave it all away. 

What’s Next:  Well, for me – I’m going to bed – followed by a shower in the morning and ... (Editor – I think this section is about what’s next for the Rangers) (Dave Pucks – oh, right) The Rangers return to Madison Square Garden (which is actually a non-square non-garden structure) for a 6pm Sunday home game verses the Edmonton Oilers.  See youse all then.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Game Night - Rangers and Toronto "Make Believes"

Well friends – its game night for our Rangers as they travel to Toronto to take on a team we like to call the Toronto “Make Believes”.  The Leafs (Editor – shouldn’t that be “Leaves” – the correct plural of Leaf?) (Dave Pucks – yes and no – this is how they do it for some reason) have 14 points – the same as our heroes – but with one more game played.  Not that it matters so much this early in the season.

Statistically – Toronto is better than the Rangers in almost every way – goals scored – goals let up – power play percentage – penalty kill – you name it.  And Phil Kessel is red hot right now.  On the other hand – the Leafs have lost 2 straight – though – there’s no need to panic as Toronto’s Richard Panik (Dave Pucks – see what I did there?) (Editor – if you mean “annoy us” then yes I do) got them a goal in their prior game’s last minute to send the game to OT and get his team at least one point in the loss.  Rangers have won 5 of the last 6 meetings.  We’re sending Cam Talbot out there tonight – to give Hank some rest on a travel day in what will be a 4 games in 6 days stretch.  

And we get Derek Stepan back for the first time this year with a fully healed femur (you need those for hockey) and without that broken-jaw faceguard we saw him with in last year’s playoffs.  Here is a wild guess at the lines.  Feel free to put your own name in for the 3rd defensive pairing – you’re probably as good as what we have there now.

Line 1 - Nash-Brassard-St.Louis
Line 2 - Kreider-Stepan-Zuccarello (yay - Step returns!)
Line 3 - Hagelin-D. Moore-Stempniak
Line 4 - Glass-Hayes-Duclair (hey I thought the Duke had to be top 9 to stick here)

Defense pair 1 - Staal- Klein
Defense pair 2 - Allen- GirardiDefense pair 3- Hunwick-Kostka (or something like that - any of you ever play defense in the beer league?)

That’s all for now – see you after the game.  Still seats available for those of you who can travel to Canada in the next 20 minutes.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ranger Finally Win In OT

Can you believe it?  The Rangers finally won a game that was tied at the end of regulation, outlasting the Detroit Redwings 4-3.  Your faithful friend Dave Pucks was in the house Monday Night (in the Opera Man section) watching the Rangers struggle to hold leads without regular defensemen Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Klein, and Dan Boyle (I almost typed “Bryan” Boyle)  (Editor – so now you’re going to tell us things you almost typed but didn't?  You realize that you actually had to type Bryan Boyle in order to tell us that you didn't type it)  (Dave Pucks - You’re right Ed, I’ll stop doing that).

Anyway – Once again our heroes failed to hold leads – of 2-0 and again at 3-2.  The last one really hurt because we were 7.7 seconds away from winning in regulation.  Henrik got a glove up but the wrister from Tomas Tatar found the back of the net at 19:52 of the third period.

But in OT – with the Rangers on a 4 on 3 powerplay – Brassard knocked in the game winner from close range over a flailing and apparently injured J. Gustavsson to send the faithful home happy.  A nice payback for Derek, because the Rangers first tally was a Brassard shot that ricocheted in the net off of Rick Nash’s rear end – giving Nasher’s “large target” butt the credit for scoring and Brassard just an assist for doing most of the work. 

The Rangers other two goals were by little Marty St. Louis and Lee Stempniak.  A nice win for a club that is still pounded with injuries but is slowly mending.  And it extends our streak of consecutive Ranger wins when they score 4 or more goals.   That;'s all for now - 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Riding Back In FROM the Sunset

Now where were we?  Oh – that’s right – we had to step away for a few months there (Editor – it was a year and a half) (Dave Pucks – now don’t you start with me, Ed, can you at least let me get a few sentences out before you start interrupting me?)  (Editor – fine – just go ahead)

Anyway - here we are back again and ready for action.  The Rangers may have lost in the Stanley cup finals last year 4-1, but with three overtime games it was a highly competitive series that – if we had squeaked one more tally in off the post against Quick in game 5, well, you know how that could have played out.  Don’t get me started.  (Editor – no one is getting you started) (Dave Pucks - It’s a figure of speech, yo)  (Editor – you’re not speaking so how could it be a figure of speech?) (Dave Pucks –shut up – I’m blogging here)

Anyway –it’s a new season – a brave new world – and with the sad news that our beloved comrade Kevin Delury is hanging up his keyboard for good over at the New York Rangers Blog – well, we just thought it was time to crank this apparatus back up again and see if we can get it road-worthy again. 

Much has changed since we last spoke.  The Rangers have a better coach – some amazing new players (Like Nash and St. Louis) and we still have the best goaltender in the NHL in Henrik Lundqvist.  Plus the team is clearly not having a post finals let-down.  In fact – they look determined – gritty – and seem to be attacking this season with a real sense of urgency.

So strap in boys and girls – because the Blueshirt-Brothers are back and we’d love to have you along for the ride.