Rangers Sweep Stadium Series Games

Going into these Stadium Series games, I was a little annoyed the Rangers had to play two of them so they could keep the Devils and Islanders happy. (Let’s be honest, the league couldn’t decide which to put in and had no one else for them to play who would actually sell out the building.) But there was nothing we could do about it so I just hoped for a sweep so I didn’t have to listen to Devils and Islanders fans talk about what may end up being the highlight of their perspective seasons. Mission accomplished.

There was a lot of talk on Sunday regarding Martin Brodeur’s comments about the ice. In my mind, the problem wasn’t so much what he said but how he said it, using it as an excuse for why he played poorly and his team lost. Well if he thought that ice was bad, I can only imagine what he would’ve said about the sheet the Rangers and Islanders were forced to play on tonight. I’m not sure if the league tried to fix the ice after the comments Sunday night but if so, they didn’t succeed because the ice looked atrocious this evening.

The first period was the exact opposite of the first period on Sunday, in the sense that there was no goals and not many chances for them either. The Rangers had to kill two penalties because as expected, they looked a little flatter than the Islanders to start the game. (At least I expected it.) The kills were good but otherwise I really don’t have anything to say about the first twenty minutes of tonight’s game other than they happened.

I had every intention of saying the second period was worst. Actually, I’m still going to say it. The Rangers looked worse in the second period than they did in the first. Fortunately for them, they were playing the Islanders who want to believe they are an elite team but instead are just a team with some elite talent but nothing more than that. Due to that, the game was still tied at zero with less than two minutes to go in the period.

But Lundqvist could only do so much and the Islanders finally broke through at 18:33 to get the first goal of the game. I honestly felt bad for Lundqvist at that point because he was the only one who looked like a competent hockey player for the visitors. I wouldn’t say that goal woke the Rangers up but they attempted to play the next shift. And as I said, it was the Islanders so exactly forty seconds later, we had a tie game when Pouliot found a lose rebound in the crease and put it in what was an empty net as Nabokov was down on the ice.

Other than those two goals, and a couple of penalties (one to the Rangers and a 4-on-4 situation where Nash was called for a dive which I won’t comment on because NBC didn’t show the actual penalty) there was once again nothing to talk about from a Rangers perspective. They honestly were only still in the game because of Henrik Lundqvist and the fact they were playing the Islanders. (And maybe the bad ice although I’m not Brodeur so don’t want to blame that.)

And because of that, they were able to win the game when they came out and kind of played the third period.

It started just 23 seconds in when the Rangers got their only power play of the game. The first minute was pure power play with a number of great chances. The second half, pure power kill. The good news was the Islanders didn’t get any chances during either part. Two minutes after it ended, Vigneault put the fourth line on the ice. I never know what to expect from that line and while they were good on Sunday, they hadn’t impressed me tonight to that point. Then the puck ended up on the stick of Dominic Moore who put it on net. Nabokov made the save but none other than Dan Carcillo was there to bury the rebound and give the Rangers the lead.

That woke both teams up as we finally saw a period of actual hockey from both teams. (Granted the Islanders had kind of played the second period but the third was an overall decent period of hockey.) There wasn’t as much hitting as you would expect from a Rangers-Islanders game but there was plenty of chances along with defensive plays. The Islanders definitely pushed for the equalizer and almost got it during a frantic last two minutes but the Rangers clung on to sweep the Stadium Series games.

On Sunday, the Rangers deserved the win. Tonight not sure I can say that but I will absolutely take it. The best part? I knew the Rangers weren’t going to score as many goals as they did on Sunday but I just wanted one more than the Islanders. I guess I should’ve asked for two or three to make watching the game a little easier.

I know a lot of people have complained about the Rangers being forced to be the road team in both games. In eleven outdoor games, the road team has won nine times with three of those being two points for the team that plays out of MSG. They can use the tax exemption or whatever excuse they want for why they aren’t the home team but I think we now know what the real reason is. And I am perfectly okay with it.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

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What Should The Rangers Do With Ryan Callahan & Dan Girardi?

March 5th at 3pm could be a turning point in recent Rangers history. That’s the date and time of the trade deadline this year. And for the first time in years, fans are anxiously waiting for it to come and go. Not because they are afraid of who Sather might bring in but instead who he might get rid of. Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi are free agents this summer. Word is Sather wants to re-sign both. But if it doesn’t look like he will be able to, he will want to get something for his two long time players. And most fans aren’t ready to accept that option.

Yesterday a report from TSN surfaced saying that the Rangers would look to trade Callahan and/or Girardi if they are not signed by the deadline. According to Darren Dreger, Glen Sather is gauging interest in Callahan as it appears those talks are not going well. Bob McKenzie believe Callahan is looking for a 7 year deal worth more than $6 million per year. As for Girardi, Dreger said there is interest but the Rangers are more comfortable in the fact that they could re-sign him so aren’t making him available. McKenzie believes he is looking for a long term deal as well (possibly up to 7 years although later mentioned that 6 years could be an option) for roughing $5.4 million per year.

So there are the facts. What would I do? Answer might surprise you.

For a long time I thought we might have a Buffalo situation with the two of them where the Sabres wanted to keep Chris Drury and not Daniel Briere therefore losing both with Drury refusing to sign if Briere wasn’t. (In this case the Rangers would want Callahan but not Girardi.) Now that it appears that isn’t true, it will come down to money and term.

I’m going to start with Girardi. I’ve always believed with him it will come down to loyalty. The Rangers gave him a chance years ago after he wasn’t drafted and he realizes how big that was. I also believe he loves it in NY and both he and his family are comfortable here. And that goes a long way.

It’s also a good thing cause I think the Rangers need him. Is he having a good season? No, he’s not. Could that mean he’s starting his decline? Yes, it could. But the Rangers need to take that chance. Letting Girardi go would disrupt the team in more ways than fans might realize. Forget the minutes that would need to be replaced and can’t be by the team currently (don’t tell me Stralman or Klein could take them because they can’t) but you have the chemistry he has with McDonagh. If Girardi leaves, you need to find a new player for McDonagh to play with and Staal isn’t an option since they are both left D. I know guys come and go but that’s a role that won’t just be replaced overnight. Would you feel comfortable putting Stralman (assuming he stays) or Klein up against Crosby and Ovechkin all night? Not sure they could handle that on a full-time and regular basis.

You also have his role with the team. He might not wear a letter but he’s a leader in that room, specifically with the defense. Losing him could have a similar affect that losing Brandon Dubinsky and Brandon Prust did. After doing that once, I don’t think the Rangers are ready to try it again. Could keeping Girardi backfire? Of course. And I’m not paying him $7 million for 7 years (something I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get on the open market even though he doesn’t deserve it). But if he is willing to take around $5 million for 5 years then he has to stay in my mind. (I’m a little reluctant on 6 years but would be open to it. And while I know people will say the money is too much, you can thank the market as that’s what he would get if he made it there and while he could give a hometown discount, there’s no reason for him to take only $4 million per year when he knows he can get so much more.)

Then you have Callahan. With him, I’ve thought it would be money and that report basically confirms that. I don’t know why but I’ve thought he sees the big payday he could get on the open market and is intrigued. I’m not paying him 7 for 7 either so if that’s what he wants then he may not be playing against Toronto at MSG on March 5th. (Not sure he deserves 6 for 7 either.) The problem is he absolutely could get it on the open market and everyone knows it.

Do I think the rumor that he’s on the trade block right now are true? No I don’t. That’s a negotiating tactic by Sather. He put that out there to persuade Callahan to sign. Will it work? No clue. But that’s what it is.

The thing with Callahan, and I know this won’t be a popular opinion, but I think he can be replaced. Hear me out. Yes he is the heart and soul of the team and absolutely a leader in the room. But with all his injuries, it’s not as if the team doesn’t know how to play without him. And recently his minutes have gone down, specifically on the power play, yet the Rangers are still winning.

Do I want him to go? No. I get attached to players and seeing Callahan in another jersey wouldn’t be easy. But if he gets greedy then I wish him luck where ever he goes. In the end I think he gives in and stays but I wouldn’t be as against him leaving. I know some people will say how can you compare losing Girardi to losing Dubinsky but not say the same about Callahan? I’m not talking about the exact way it affected the team, but the fact of how much of a hole it left. At this point, whether he should or not, I just think Girardi has a bigger role on the team and therefore his loss would be felt more. Either of them leaving will affect the team. There’s no way around that. But the Rangers have a bunch of guys who do what Callahan does. They don’t have guys who do what Girardi does.

In the end, I don’t think any of this matters as I think they both re-sign. It’s just a gut feeling I have (which is different than how I felt at the start of the season when I thought they were gone and no I can’t explain what changed). They seem to like their comfort and roles here. But money talks so that could change at any moment which will make it an interesting couple of weeks from February 20th to March 5th (end of Olympic trade freeze till deadline, nothing is happening with either of them before that unless they decide to re-sign).

What’s your take?

Rangers Score Touchdown In Yankee Stadium

Talk about a roller coaster ride for two local fan bases this afternoon. And I’m not talking about the weather which gave fans at Yankee Stadium a little bit of everything from a sun glare delaying the start to a snow storm in the second period. I’m not sure there are words to describe my first experience at an outdoor hockey game but I’m going to give it a try.

At around a quarter to noon, I looked at my watch and then looked around at what was going on and thought “this game isn’t starting on time”. Five minutes later, my fears were confirmed as they announced the game was delayed due to sun glare. I’ll be honest – it was bad on the side the Rangers would be defending so I wasn’t surprised. However, I was surprised when only a little later they said festivities would start at 12:50. I was expecting a longer delay than that. Apparently so were the Rangers who admitted after the game they thought the game wouldn’t start till 2:30 at earliest. It started at roughly 1:30 and it was obvious the Rangers weren’t ready.

I’m not going to write about the first period and not because the Rangers were down 3-2 after twenty minutes. (Dominic Moore did have a great tip in and Marc Staal managed to get enough on a shot to get it through Brodeur’s pads, although just barely.) It’s more because I spent the period yelling at them and thinking to myself that I didn’t pay over double my usual ticket price to sit in the freezing cold to watch a team not bother to show up. They looked that bad. Hearing how they found out the new game time plus the ice being bad (it looked it but I’ll be honest and say I thought it was the team not being sharp), I’ll give them a little bit of a pass.

I have no idea what was said in intermission or what caused them to wake up but it was entirely two different teams in the second period. The Rangers joked they would have an advantage if it snowed today since it snowed during their practice yesterday. I guess they were right because as the snow started, they looked like a competent hockey team and the Devils looked lost.

It started just under three minutes into the period when John Moore took the puck up the ice and passed to Mats Zuccarello on a 2-on-1. The puck hit Zuccarello’s skate and deflected into the net to tie the game. Fortunately they didn’t review it. I will need to see a replay to know if they should have.

Ten minutes later it was Zuccarello again, this time on a rush with Derick Brassard to give the Rangers their first lead. The two goals would get Zuccarello the Broadway Hat after the game. While he had a great game, I would’ve gone with one of the two defensemen on the second pair as Marc Staal and Anton Stralman had fantastic games. Which was a good thing because the only times I noticed the first pair was when they were messing up. (I’m giving McDonagh a little bit of a pass only because he’s always so solid but he didn’t look good today at all.)

The Rangers had been dominating play the entire period so Pete DeBoer thought it was a good idea to call a timeout there to try and rally his troops. It didn’t work as a minute later, Carl Hagelin beat the Devils to a puck behind Brodeur, came out and rifled one behind the Devils netminder to make it 5-3. I am curious what he told the boys during those thirty seconds.

Things went from bad to worse for the Devils when Rick Nash made it 6-3 in the last thirty seconds of the period on another odd-man rush for the “road team”. (I don’t know what the percentage of fans in the building were nor do I care. Calling a game in the Bronx a road game for the team that actually plays in New York is ridiculous to me.) That goal broke a few records as it was the first time a team had scored four goals in one period during an outdoor game and the first time in 100 outings that Brodeur had given up six to the Rangers. That second stat makes me smile.

At that point I heard the best comment of the day as a guy near me said “What time is it? It’s six past Marty!”. I would love to take credit for that one as it was a great comment but I couldn’t come up with something as witty as that. The “Marty” chants had been getting louder as the period went on. After that goal was the loudest I heard them all afternoon. There were also a lot of Rangers fans wondering if the future hall of famer would be out for the third period. The answer? No, as Schneider lead the Devils onto the ice for the third period as Rangers fans cheered.

As the boys walked off the ice for intermission, the cheers from the Rangers sections were much louder than they had been twenty minutes earlier. The problem was none of us knew what to expect in the third. Would the Devils wake up? Would the Rangers try to play defense for twenty minutes against a team who basically created trap hockey? I was worried it would be the second and while they did spend more time than I would’ve liked by Lundqvist, it wasn’t their typical sit back and relax defense hockey. Or at least it didn’t look like it from what I saw.

Halfway through the period, Derek Stepan got a chance as he came in on a breakaway and was held by Travis Zajac. He was given a penalty shot. I’ll take the call any day (especially with how bad the power play looked today) but I’m beginning to wonder if they are required to call at least one of these for each outdoor game. Knowing Stepan’s numbers in the shootout, I wasn’t hopeful but crossed my fingers and wished for the best. Maybe the fact that it really didn’t matter if he scored or not helped because Stepan came in and roofed one to make the extra point on the touchdown good and give the Rangers a 7-3 lead.

That would be all the scoring for the day as the Rangers would walk out with the victory. The seven goals broke another record as it was the most a NHL team has scored in an outdoor game. Surprisingly the two teams shook hands after the game. I know they are supposed to but I wasn’t sure the Devils would stick around to do that after their collapse in the final forty minutes. Their fan base sure as heck didn’t wait around to see it. I was hoping for a stick salute after the game. Usually both teams do that to thank their fans for coming to a game like this. Instead the Rangers just skated off the ice. Oh well, they acknowledged the fans surrounding that area as they walked off so I’ll guess that will have to do.

As great as the seven goals were, unfortunately the Rangers have to do this again on Wednesday night. Something tells me they won’t score another seven. I just hope they have some goals left in them. As for how many? Whatever ends up being one more than the Islanders score. I would love to sweep both these games.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Another Loss As Rangers See Rest In Their Future

Sigh. I know I predicted it but I was still hoping to be wrong. The worst part about losing two in a row this week? The Rangers don’t play indoors for a week. That means they have just two games in seven days. I know they can use the rest and they need everyone around them to make up their games in hand but these two losses plus no games equals the Rangers probably not liking where they will be in the standings at the start of February.

As for the game, maybe it was me (and it probably was) but I thought they looked worse than they did on Tuesday. (Honestly my reaction to this game was basically McDonagh’s facial expression above.) That said, I am essentially comparing apples to oranges as I watched Tuesdays game on TV and was at the Garden for tonight’s match-up with the Blues. I’ve noticed the game looks very different live versus on TV.

But to me, tonight, they looked like a team in a slump. They couldn’t complete a pass, had trouble entering the zone and had a couple of sequences you would expect to see clowns try during a circus act. But it seems the overall opinion, from the players to the beat writers to the fans who watched on TV, was that the Blues just outplayed the home team. They scored when they wanted to and once they had the lead, they knew how to play shut-down defense. If that’s the case, I can accept this loss. And maybe that is what I saw cause I found the game to be one of the most boring games I’ve seen all season. That would fit with the Blues playing basically three periods of trap.

In regards to a recap, I really want to do one. But the minutes and periods basically blended together as one so I’m honestly not sure I will be able to. I know they scored in the first period on a goal that was reviewed for some reason (I guess it went in off Steen’s skate) but we all knew it was a goal. I want to blame someone but not sure who was at fault. It was probably one Lundqvist should’ve had and I do remember Kreider was sitting in the crease as it went in but otherwise no clue.

It looked like that would be the only goal of the game as I really didn’t see any great chances for the Blues and the Rangers weren’t doing anything to show they had any intention of scoring. Then late in the second, the Rangers came into the zone and passed (cause why would they do anything else). The puck ended up behind the net where it was dug out by McDonagh who got it back to Stepan who found Nash in the slot. That puck was on and off Nash’s stick so fast no one knew where it was till it was in the back of the net. It was pretty so let’s watch it again:

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2013020760-567-h

You can see why I remembered that. Just wish I had seen more of it throughout the rest of the game.

Unfortunately Nash took back the good he did with that tying goal by taking a penalty early in the third. It took the Blues nine seconds to get the game winner. While I don’t think Lundqvist was screened, he never saw it.

Being the fact the Rangers managed six shots after that goal was scored, you can see why I felt it wasn’t a good game. Again, I don’t know if it was the Rangers or Blues who caused that to happen. The Blues are a great team. To me they didn’t look great but their average is still better than the Rangers when they are at their best. That’s not a knock on our boys. The Blues are just that good.

And now the Rangers get some time off. Their next game is Sunday afternoon against the Devils at Yankee Stadium. Then it’s another two days off and back to Yankee Stadium to play the Islanders. Here’s to hoping the boys just need some rest and come out as the team they had been the past few weeks during both of those games. As it looks like the rest of the division doesn’t plan on losing again, it would be really helpful to get points in those two games.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Michael Del Zotto Finally Gets Change Of Scenery

Everyone knew it was coming. Half the fan base is probably thrilled too. Me? I’m half and half but what’s done is done.

Michael Del Zotto is officially an ex-New York Ranger.

Anyone who is completely upset about this probably needs to follow the sport a little more closely. Then again those who are throwing a party probably need to do the same but I know there is a bunch of people in that category so I’ll let them be. I’m going to take this from an objective side.

I do believe Del Zotto loved New York. And he wanted it to work here. But it wasn’t. He knew it. The team knew it. The fans knew it. The league knew it. So a change needed to be made. Fortunately the Rangers didn’t want to give him up for nothing so they waited for a deal that they felt helped them. That deal came today when Nashville offered right-handed defenseman Kevin Klein. I don’t think the Rangers cared about anything relating to Klein once they found out a team was offering them a right D. That’s what they need so they took the deal.

In Klein, the Rangers get a 29-year old right-handed defenseman who is signed for four more seasons at $2.9 million per year. (A little security if they lose Girardi and Stralman this summer.) His numbers won’t wow you but he’s a veteran D with over 400 NHL games to his name.

But more importantly, with the deal Del Zotto gets to move on. He gets a fresh start on a team he will never be asked to be the top offensive defenseman on. (Nashville has these two guys names Shea Weber and Seth Jones. You may have heard of them.) Personally I think that’s all it came down to for Del Zotto – he needed a change of scenery. Do I hope it works out for him? Of course I do. I never had anything against the kid. Never loved or hated him. I rooted for him because he was a Ranger. And now I wish him the best. I have no idea if this change will finally help him get to level we all expected from him as a first round draft pick but I do know now that is on him. He wanted a fresh start and got one. I do hope he takes advantage of it.

It will just be hard not to see him high fiving with Zuccarello after warmups or as the Rangers leave the ice after a win. Good luck DZ! Hopefully this starts the turnaround you deserve.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Flat-Footed Rangers Hand Two Points To Islanders

Usually we get a warning when the Rangers plan to play a stinker. They manage to win the game or two before but you see the signs and know inside they really shouldn’t have won those games. Then boom! Stinker.

We got no such warning tonight. While the Rangers didn’t play two fantastic games this weekend, I thought they were two solid ones. Sure there were things to fix but there weren’t glaring signs of trouble on the way. That’s what makes tonight so puzzling. I get that they don’t care about this “rivalry”. I know I don’t. I’ve never actually hated the Islanders. They are just there. And that’s how the Rangers played tonight.

(Editors Note: Yes I was born and raised a Rangers fan. I wasn’t a die heart as a kid so I never hated the opposition. As soon as I understood the whole concept of rivalries, the Islanders were irrelevant so I never grew to hate them.)

One unexpected line-up change tonight as Henrik Lundqvist has the flu (well, he’s sick so I’m just assuming it’s the flu) so Cam Talbot got the start with the Rangers scrambling to find someone to back him up just in case. They came up with Hartford goalie David LeNeveu, who was released from his AHL contract and signed a two-way contract earlier today. For anyone questioning if Lundqvist is actually sick, they would’ve had a back up ready to go if he wasn’t. And no, I swear I haven’t been near him recently so it’s not my fault he’s sick.

Now onto the game since that’s what you came here to read about (for reasons I’m not sure of cause I wouldn’t want to read about this game).

On Sunday night, Rick Nash decided to get the party started early by scoring just 70 seconds into the game. I guess he went home and decided he could do better than that as it took him only 62 seconds to get on the board tonight. Of course while the Garden was celebrating, the home team (other than Nash) hadn’t started the game yet as the Islanders dominated the next ten minutes. Actually, they basically dominated the entire first period but ten minutes after Nash’s first goal, Dan Girardi found a hanging Nash for his second of the game.

At that point, I joked to myself that Poulin shouldn’t feel too bad because it wasn’t like he had allowed Dan Carcillo to score two goals. Carcillo then went and hit a post a minute later. I don’t think I would’ve been able to finish this recap if he had scored after I thought that.

I would love to say the Rangers deserved that 2-0 lead and worked to keep it through the remainder of the period but neither applied. They didn’t deserve it and six minutes later, the Islanders finally got one past Talbot to cut the lead in half. Fortunately the two teams then went on a penalty brigade, taking turns taking them through the end of the period so we had almost every combination that wasn’t 5-on-5 hockey.

The second period was even better as the Rangers glided through another twenty minutes. They got a lucky power play goal (after getting lucky with the call to lead to the power play in the first place) when the puck bounced behind Poulin after Stepan hit the post allowing Kreider to bat it in for his third point of the night. But that was the only good of the period as the Islanders would get two goals and basically dominate again to take the tie into the third.

I said when it was 3-2 that if the Islanders tied it, they would go on to win the game. Yes I am usually pessimistic about this team but tonight was different. Tonight I saw a team that simply did not show up for this game. To the Islanders, this is a rivalry and huge ego boosters if they can beat the Rangers. To the Rangers, I know it doesn’t matter as much but I thought it mattered a little. The team I was watching showed they didn’t care about the supposed rivalry at all.

The Rangers showed a little life in the third period but it was too little too late. Shockingly it took the Islanders most of the period to get the go ahead goal. I guess the Rangers felt bad it was taking so long so they helped them out by taking a too many men on the ice penalty with five and a half minutes to go. And this wasn’t just a one guy touched before another guy got to the bench. They had seven guys on the ice. As I said, they were off the entire game and got zero points because of it.

I would laugh it off and say the Rangers effort tonight shows what they think of their NY rivals but I can’t give them any credit for what transpired tonight. Simply put, they came out flat and remained that way until there was two minutes remaining on the clock. I’ll give them the third to last shift, which lasted a minute and a half with them applying constant pressure in the Islanders zone. I have no idea where that came from and why it was missing the rest of the night but they did have one good shift.

And the best part is their next game is against the St. Louis Blues. I wasn’t hopeful for that game in the first place because the Blues are…well if you haven’t paid attention to them, they are one of the top three teams in the west. Add to the fact that the Blues got their butts kicked tonight by the Devils and I’m guessing all we’ll be hearing about on NBC on Sunday is how the Rangers are on a two game losing streak.

It doesn’t change the good they’ve done recently and I’m not worried about them as long as they don’t make games like tonight a habit. I’m not saying the Islanders wouldn’t have won if the Rangers showed up for the game. They still might have because no matter what they cared more about this game then the Rangers ever will. But it kind of shows how bad they are that they needed a late third period goal to basically beat themselves tonight.

Oh well, throw the tape out and move on. Not like we don’t get another chance at them any time soon. And who knows, maybe the boys will surprise me on Thursday. Thinking positive thoughts, thinking positive thoughts…

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Season Subscribers Fan Forum A Success Again

One of the perks of being a Rangers Season Subscriber, besides getting to go to every home game, is the annual forum with the players the team does each year. I know some will think I’m nuts but I usually enjoy this more than the games as it’s a chance to see the guys being themselves. It also usually leads a handful of memorable moments you wish you managed to get on video. (The story about opening night last season that Dan Girardi gave at last years’ forum is one such instance that comes to mind.)

Last Wednesday, six players met with fans in the MSG Theater and once again the forum didn’t disappoint. (Editors Note: I apologize for the delay on posting this. Blame the flu, which I’ve had since that day. Not that you care but I basically dragged myself to this forum so I’m going to do my best to try and remember everything that happened.)

With Dave Maloney and John Giannone leading the way (and doing an excellent job at that), the fans got to listen to Brian Boyle, Marc Staal, Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan, Rick Nash and Dominic Moore answer questions, tell stories and throw jabs at one another. (Staal felt the need to rag on Lundqvist any chance he got. I know they’ve known each other for years but I’ve never seen him rag on him that much. Also never seen him talk as much as he did this night so that might have something to do with it.)

Rather than attempt to do a play-by-play of the evening in order of how it happened, because there is no way I could do that, here are a few of the highlights:

Early in the evening, Lundqvist was asked if the gold medal game came down to a shootout between Sweden and Norway with Zuccarello coming in for the shot who would win. He hesitated and then said Sweden would because Zuccarello would over think the shot. You could tell the other guys were holding in comments and finally Dominic Moore blurted out “Norway’s in the gold medal game?”. That was kind of my reaction too as everyone cracked up.

In regards to other Olympic related comments, the guys who weren’t headed to Sochi were asked if they would have side bets on their countries. Boyle and Staal looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders saying “you wanna bet?” “sure…what are terms?”. My guess is there may already be stuff going on but they didn’t want to tell anyone about it.

Those guys were also asked what they would do during the break. There was some joke between Maloney and Boyle about furniture shopping (I’m guessing his fiancee had dragged him that day and he had been complaining about it) so Boyle joked not that.

Staal on the other hand, let fans in on a little secret – he’s going to be a dad really soon. When asked, he put his head down and goes “well, my wife is out to…here (hand showing obvious baby bump), ready to pop so yeah I’ll be dealing with a little one.” Gianonne asked if he planned it for the Olympic break, saying he hoped answer was no, to which Staal said he didn’t but it worked for his wife cause she would have him around to yell at for two weeks. I’m going to guess the answer was no because Staal was probably hoping to be in Sochi this year. Either way, great news for Marc and Lindsey! (And no he didn’t mention if it was a boy or a girl…but it’s a Staal so we all know what it will be.)

Speaking of kids, Callahan had the two “aww” moments of the night when he mentioned that during his free time he just liked to go home and spend time with his daughter, who always had a smile for him. Gianonne completely set him up by asking specifics (name, age) for those who didn’t know to which Callahan without thinking said “her name is Charlotte and she’s 19 months old”. You can imagine the response from the crowd as Callahan shook his head and Giannone laughed. I’m no stalker but most fans remember she was born during the Devils series of the 2012 playoffs so none of this was really a secret.

Then later in the evening, his jersey giveaway was just for kids. The question was what number captain for the Rangers was he. The first two kids asked didn’t know the answer and weren’t close with their guess either. The third kid was a young boy which led to this conversation:

MC: “What’s your name?”
Kid: “Nicholas”
MC: “Where do you sit, Nicholas?”
Kid: “I don’t know…”
(At that point, Callahan looked over to Joe and Dave and said we have a winner.)
MC: “Dad, where do you sit?”
Dad: “Section 224”
MC: “Okay Nicholas, what’s the answer?”
Kid: “27?”
(Everyone groaned cause it was close but not right.)
Callahan: “Hey Nicholas, what number do I wear?”
Kid: “24!”
Callahan (with smile on his face): “We have a winner! Come on down!”

The answer was 24¬†actually 26 but Ryan wanted the kid to win so came up with a question he would know the answer to. Either way, the whole conversation was beyond adorable. Some people might question Callahan because he isn’t the easiest to find for fans but inside, the guy is just as big of a softy as the rest of the team.

Other highlights:

Nash didn’t talk a lot but when he did he used every chance he could to place a dig at Columbus. I know he was trying to get on the good side of New York fans but it wasn’t necessary in my opinion. Honestly, it was a little messed up to me with everything that organization did for him over the years. He did have one of the comments of the night when someone screamed out “Crosby sucks” and he replied with his typical smirk “Yes, I think Crosby sucks too”. As I said, basically tried to make sure NYR fans love him. He shouldn’t have to try. No wonder Columbus fans had no problem with him leaving when he finally did.

Giannone asking the guys about the way Vigneault talks on the bench saying one of the Canuck players (might have been Bieska but I don’t remember for sure) made a comment during the game between the two teams telling him to shut-up and that he didn’t miss listening to him scream. Boyle’s response? “I’m not touching that one. I have to fight for any ice time I can get, not touching that.” Giannone tried to re-word it by asking if the players have ever had a coach who talks like that on the bench throughout a game (he apparently is very vocal although you could never tell) to which Staal looked at him with this confused look and replied “Do you know who our last coach was?” (Another moment I wish had been caught on video, specifically for the look on Staal’s face.) That basically ended that line of questioning.

The guys were asked if they had any superstitions to which they all said they were rituals not superstitions. (Whatever, they just don’t like to use that word.) I don’t remember if they were asked if there was anyone who you stayed away from on game days or how it was phrased but Staal and Boyle went into a whole thing about how “You can’t talk to Hank during morning skate, you can’t talk to Hank during the pregame meal, you can’t look at Hank on game day…”. They were listing everything. The guys were laughing and Henrik admitted he’s bad on game days because he’s focused. Something came up about him not screaming at anyone so Hank looked at Marc and said “I don’t scream at you but I can if you want. We can make that part of the routine…” Pretty sure Marc said something along the lines of “that’s okay”.

Staal then said really what he does is watch Girardi’s routine which apparently is ridiculous as he has to move in certain ways and put his gear on a certain way. Callahan was cracking up when he mentioned it so I’m guessing Dan just has some crazy superstitions.

Speaking of funny, Boyle was asked who besides himself is the funniest guy on the team. He looked at Staal and said he was kind of funny to which Marc made a face that said “Me?”. Boyle then admitted it had to be Zucarrello who he called “just delightful”. Lundqvist then told a story about how when Zuccarello joined the team last year, he wanted to take a picture with him when they met in the hotel (which I believe he posted on twitter). Torts saw and yelled at Zuccarello for bothering Lundqvist to which Henrik replied “no, no, it was me. I wanted the picture!” They seriously love the kid in that room.

Other questions involved what they would do if they weren’t a hockey player and couldn’t be a golfer (Boyle said he would be an athlete cause didn’t think he could be a real adult, I think Staal thought he had to list another athlete so said bullpen catcher, Callahan would be a teacher like his mom, Nash would be a phys ed teacher or police officer and Moore would be tennis player), where did they like to eat in the city, and who carpools with who. (Apparently Stepan gets pushed to the backseat when riding with Callahan and Girardi, since they live in same building while Lundqvist and Boyle drive by themselves. Boyle had given a ride to Staal recently and he said “that was amazing…he said all of 9 words…but did say thank you for the ride”.)

All in all it was a great evening full of laughs. The Rangers don’t always do a lot for their season subscribers but this event is one thing they always get right.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus. You can see more pictures here.)