Special Teams Lead Rangers Past Oilers

We all knew this road trip was full of trap games. Friday night in Calgary, the Rangers fell into the trap. The question tonight was would they learn from it or fall in it again? If I’m being honest, the Oilers didn’t put up the same fight the Flames did but I think it’s fair to say the Rangers learned their lesson. At least for one night.

To say the first period was a fast-paced period of hockey would be an understatement. Very few whistles mixed with back and forth action had everyone holding their breath. I know the Rangers are a faster team now and I believe Vigneault wants to play this style of hockey but I’m not sure that pace really favors the boys at the moment. Although the Oilers only managed three shots on net so maybe I’m wrong. That said, I honestly was expecting the Oilers to take advantage at some point and take the lead even though the Rangers were clearly the better team.

Fortunately I was wrong as with three and a half minutes to go, Anton Stralman threw an absolute laser on net that was deflected by Mats Zuccarello to give the Rangers the lead. Honestly think that puck may have gone in anyway but I’ll take the deflection. The Rangers had a couple of good chances after that, including a disallowed goal due to either the whistle blowing or incidental contact with goaltender (I’m not sure which was the official reason but I agreed with the call), but weren’t able to extend their lead before the buzzer sounded.

But that didn’t last long as the Oilers didn’t really come out to play in the second period. A little over two and a half minutes in, the Oilers took their second penalty of the night. (I didn’t mention the first because I want to pretend it didn’t happen.) The Rangers looked semi-competent with the man advantage but didn’t look to be getting anything until the very end when Derick Brassard threw the puck towards the net from a bad angle and it somehow found the back of the net. It hit something and since Brassard got the goal, I’m going to assume an Oilers player. I’m just not sure if it was the defenseman standing in-between or Scrivens.

Two minutes later, the Rangers took one of my favorite penalties – too many men on the ice. I’m not 100% sure it was the right call as for some reason the benches are on the opposite side in Rexall Place so couldn’t get a clear view on TV but there were a lot of guys moving around as the puck went near there. Those penalties always burn teams but the Rangers somehow killed it.

Then on the shift immediately following the kill, Carcillo (who served the minor) came out of the box and took the puck into the Oilers zone. A couple of passes later and it was in the back of the net as Derek Stepan gave it to Rick Nash who banked it off of Scrivens from a sharp angle to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead.

Those two weren’t done as three minutes later, with the Rangers on their second penalty kill, they broke out on a 2-on-1. Stepan handed the puck to Nash who made no mistake in burying it for his 25th of the season. But the goal was more important to Stepan as it was a milestone for the first line center:

Just think of how many points he would have if he was having a good year (or didn’t hold out and miss training camp).

The Rangers killed the rest of the penalty and the remainder of the period to head to the third with a commanding 4-0 lead.

But they weren’t done yet as less than four minutes into the third, while killing another penalty to Diaz (both taken directly after MSG had said how solid he had been playing), Stepan and Zuccarello had a give-an-go that eventually ended up with a shot on net. It almost appeared as if neither player wanted to take the shot but Zuccarello finally had no choice and got his second of the game along with the Rangers second shorthanded goal of the game.

The rest of the period was basically both teams killing the clock. The Oilers were completely deflated and the Rangers were ready to move on to Vancouver. There were some bad penalties taken by both teams but nothing really worth talking about. (Although I would’ve rather if Perron had not put his stick in McDonagh’s mouth, cutting him in the process. Fortunately there was only a little blood so he didn’t miss a shift.)

And so this team continues to be inconsistent. Tonight was what we, and those who say they are contenders, expect from them. They played a lesser opponent and dominated that opponent. Does it mean I think they’ve turned a corner and will play the way they need to the rest of the regular season? Of course not. I wouldn’t be surprised if this team didn’t make the trip to Vancouver and instead we got the one that played in Calgary.

But for now, I’ll take it. I mean how can we complain with three point nights from Zuccarello (two goals and an assist) and Stepan (three assists), two goals for Nash and a shutout for Talbot? Now if only Marty St. Louis could manage to get on the board. It’s not as if his teammates aren’t trying to get him one.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

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Dominic Moore Obvious Nominee For Masterton

Earlier today I realized the end of the season really was near as I started to see Masterton award nominees being announced by each teams’ beat writers. My first thought was when do the Rangers writers plan to announce their nominee is Dominic Moore. Turns out it was today.

The Masterton is probably one award players don’t want to be nominated for. The exact definition of the award is “the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport”. But the nominees are usually someone who went through some type of hardship and still managed to play hockey at its highest level.

For example, last years’ nominee was Marc Staal due to his injuries. He wasn’t even close to the top three as those went to Josh Harding after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Adam McQuaid for returning after having two surgeries to clear blood clots from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, and Sidney Crosby for his concussion issues. (Personally I would’ve given it to Staal over Crosby due to the eye injury but I’m not sure if Marc had returned by the time the nominees were announced.) As I said, an award players don’t want to be nominated for.

As for Moore, he was a given for this nomination the moment he stepped on the ice opening night. Everyone knows his story and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he was in the top three this year. (Off the top of my head, the only story I can think of that was worse was Matt Stajan in Calgary who just had to deal with the death of his newborn son.)

The Rangers signing Dominic Moore last summer was the feel good story of the year. Let him come back to the team that he started with and see what happens. Instead we got more than we could hope for as he has been a staple on what has been a very good fourth line. He leads the line in scoring with six goals and twelve assists.

But as Andrew Gross mentioned in the article linked above, its more than stats and returning after the death of his wife last year. He’s also has supported his brother, Steve Moore, in his battle with post concussion syndrome and the legal issues stemming from the hit ten years ago plus created Smashfest!, “a charity Ping-Pong tournament with NHL players held in Toronto the past two summers that benefits concussion research and the Katie Moore Foundation, which helps fund research toward rarer forms of cancer”.

Nobody wants to be nominated for the Masterton award. But those that do are probably some of the strongest people we come in contact with. So since it feels wrong to congratulate Dominic Moore for this nomination, I will instead commend him for being where he is today. It can’t be easy but I’ve never seen the man without a smile on his face.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Notes From Rangers Practice + Thoughts On Miller, Nash & More

I had every intention of posting a bunch of random news and notes today. Then the Rangers took to the ice to practice today and iced a line that included Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and…Dan Carcillo.

There is part of me that thinks this is just Vigneault messing with everyone and that there is no way that line will see the ice in Edmonton tomorrow. Then there is another part of me who knows Carcillo has actually played on top lines before and been effective when he’s not being stupid (which to his credit, he hasn’t been since he got here).

But the thought most running through my mind? How do you take a guy who has either been a healthy scratch or received regular fourth line minutes (i.e. under 10 minutes a night) for the past month and throw him on the top line? Am I missing something? The best part is the power play units stayed the same meaning Girardi and Diaz will be out there with Nash, Stepan and St. Louis. I agree that forward line isn’t working so why keep it as a power play unit?

I think Vigneault just wants to make sure I am always shaking my head at him for something.

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Now to the questions I intended to ask after last nights’ game against Calgary (some of which have now been answered).

Was J.T. Miller benched last night?

Answer is yes he was. Vigneault admitted it by saying he thought he could’ve made better plays both offensively and defensively. I thought he was one of the best players on the ice through two periods. Unfortunately for Miller, he’s a kid who happened to be on the ice for the Flames third goal. To me, he wasn’t the one who made the biggest mistake leading to the goal but add those two plus fact coach felt need to shorten bench to get back in game and he inevitably wasn’t going to see the ice. And we thought those days were done when Tortorella moved to Vancouver.

But not only was he benched last night, he appears to be moved even lower down for tomorrow’s game. As mentioned above, it sounds like Carcillo is drawing back in. So who’s coming out? You see where this is going.

I have an idea. Why not place Miller on the line with Stepan and Nash? You know, place an offensive guy who goes into the corners with those two. I mean that’s the type of guy who was on their line when it was being successful so wouldn’t it make sense to place a similar one if you have him to use? Maybe that’s just me.

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How did everyone think Nash played last night?

He had his moments but I didn’t think it was a great game for #61. Now I will admit I was watching him more closely than normal. Why was that? Because of this:

(Editors Note: I tried to find video of the hit but couldn’t.)

That happened on his first shift of the night. He was extremely slow to get up and yes I feared the worst. He finished the game but that honestly means nothing to me as we’ve seen how the Rangers medical staff treats their players. (Word of Kreider being shutdown due to Sather rather than team doctors doesn’t help their reputation.)

I’m not saying Nash is injured but he has a history so I think it’s something to keep an eye on.

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Speaking of injuries, full credit to Brian Boyle last night. I have no idea how badly he was limping afterwards but it’s amazing he made it through the game with how many shots that hit him where padding is to a minimum. The best way I can explain it is you know how when you bite the side of your mouth while eating and then end up continuing to do it no matter how hard you try not to? Well Boyle kept getting hit in the same spot with the puck every time he managed to get back on the ice after blocking the initial shot. Felt so bad for him but there was someone willing to do whatever it took to win that game.

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Finally, a quick note about an ex-Ranger. No, I’m not going to discuss how Michael Del Zotto got his first goal as a Predator last night or how well Ryan Callahan is fitting in with the Lightning right now. This is an ex-Ranger from a few years ago.

Yesterday, Martin Straka quietly announced his retirement after his Czech team was eliminated from the playoffs.

I know he hasn’t been in the NHL for a couple of years but he still is a part of Rangers history. Yes the “Czech teams” after the lockout weren’t the best but they got the Rangers back to relevance. And in Straka’s case, I remember him being the guy always to stand in front of Zdeno Chara’s slapshots while Boston was on the power play. He sustained a couple of injuries by doing it but inspired others (namely an ex-captain mentioned above) from doing what was necessary to win games. You also have to love a guy who says this in making the announcement (quote loosely translated from this article):

“I’ll have a beer, a cigarette .. It was a beautiful twenty-five years, “said Straka in the bowels of the Brnohall Rondo few minutes after his Plzeň fell in the quarterfinals with a comet Extra League play-off.

Enjoy that beer and cigarette, Marty. You’ve earned it. Congrats on a great career and good luck with whatever you choose to do next.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Start Road Trip On Wrong Foot

Earlier in the day Ryan McDonagh was asked about the last time the Rangers were in Calgary, a game in which McDonagh got the game winner with roughly two seconds remaining in overtime. His response?

“I know it was one of my uglier games, realistically,” McDonagh said this morning. “I think I was out there for the first two goals against, they scored pretty quick. I was turning the puck over.  But we sent it to overtime. I got a good bounce off the boards in the overtime.”

(I looked it up and he was right. All goals before overtime were in the first period that game and he was on for both of the Flames goals. I don’t even want to know how he remembered that.) Unfortunately it seems the Saddledome isn’t a friendly place for him or his defense partner as the two had another night they would probably like to forget.

The Rangers had no lineup changes tonight but there was some roster news earlier in the day. Chris Kreider did end up having surgery on his left hand and is out indefinitely. The Rangers still haven’t confirmed the hand was broken but I think it’s a safe bet it was. As for when I expect to see him back? I said September and I’m sticking to it. And not because I think this injury has a three month rehabilitation time. Also Justin Falk did not travel with the team as his wife is expecting I believe their first child any day now.

Both teams came out with energy leading to chances both ways. Of course three minutes in, the Rangers had to kill that by taking a penalty. The kill was going well until….well until this happened:

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When every skater for one team can touch each other at the same time while play is going on, it’s probably not a good thing. The look Stepan and McDonagh are giving each other in that screenshot is hilarious though.

Two minutes later, the Rangers thought they had tied it when Nash got the puck behind the net and pushed it out front where it went in the net off St. Louis’ skate. Did St. Louis mean to put it in off his skate? No, I don’t think he did. But did St. Louis turn his foot leading to him directing the puck in the net? Yes, unfortunately he did. I actually would’ve been surprised if that was called a goal. The Rangers didn’t argue the call and St. Louis didn’t really celebrate the goal so I think they all knew it wasn’t going to count. Although I wonder if they called it off just to stop St. Louis from getting his first as a Ranger.

The call didn’t get the Rangers down as they pressed for the equalizer over the next couple of minutes but Ramo was up to the task. But the Flames always seemed to have a step on the visitors and they capitalized with a little over three minutes remaining in the period to take a 2-0 lead. I don’t know who to blame on it but someone definitely blew their coverage as Giordano pinched in with not a Ranger in sight.

But again, the Rangers didn’t back down and got a number of chances in the last minute to cut the lead in half. Unfortunately for them Ramo was able to make some incredible saves to keep the Rangers, and their 18 shots in the period, off the board. I don’t know if Ramo got a little too confident, but the second period didn’t go as well for him.

A little over two minutes into the period, the fourth line cashed in again as the puck came to Boyle in the crease. He actually hit the post on his initial shot but fortunately for him Ramo was on the other side and the puck went right back to his stick so he could put it in to cut the deficit in half. As his teammates ran over to congratulate him, he just shook his head due to the original miss.

Thirty-nine seconds later we had a tie game as Diaz’ shot from the point deflected off a Calgary defenseman and into the net for his first as a Ranger. Yes, Raphael Diaz scored a goal as a Ranger before Marty St. Louis. Yes I am cracking up at this fact. The Flames used their timeout after the goal but it didn’t help as less than two minutes later it was Richards turn as he finished off a 2-on-1 with Hagelin to give the Rangers their first lead. The goal gave the Rangers three goals on four shots in a 3:27 span.

After that, it was time for the goaltenders to take the spotlight as a few shifts later, the puck went back and forth up the ice with both netminders making spectacular saves. In Lundqvist’s case, it was a series of spectacular saves as I have no idea what the five skaters in front of him were even trying to do.

I didn’t notice if it was the same five a few shifts later but with a little over six minutes remaining, the defense in front of Lundqvist was so good that they got screamed it by the King after the Flames tied the game. I can’t blame him as once again, I really wasn’t sure what they were trying to do. (There’s bad defense and then there’s lost defense. I think the latter is the worst of the two. Those two shifts were lost defense.)

But the Rangers saved the worst for the last seconds of the period as Cammalleri gave the Flames the lead with just 7.8 seconds to go. McDonagh and Girardi once again let a Flames player skate right in but this one I have to blame on Lundqvist. He should’ve had it and he knew it. He tried numerous times to destroy his stick on his way to locker room after the buzzer sounded.

The Rangers started the third period pressing. Unfortunately for them, the Ramo they faced in the first period returned and stopped anything put near him. Then a little less than eight minutes into the period, the Rangers got their first power play of the game. Sorry, their first power kill of the game. That had to be some of the worse two minutes I’ve seen them play. They didn’t get a shot but the worst part is they lost any momentum they had to start the period.

I didn’t expect them to tie it with the way they played after the power kill ended but I knew for sure they weren’t when St. Louis took a horrible penalty with just over two minutes to go. He argued it for some reason but it was the right call. Honestly the penalty wasn’t even the thing that angered me most with St. Louis. If his teammates weren’t trying to set him up for a goal all night, they might have won the game.

But instead the winning streak comes to an end and the road trip that everyone said included “easy” games, started with a loss. The worst part is the winning goal was one that never should’ve went in. I hate when the Rangers lose due to a softy by Lundqvist. I know he allows them occasionally as all goaltenders do but those are the nights he needs his teammates to do what he does to tham all the time – bail him out. As usual, they couldn’t.

Next up the Rangers head to another trap game as they take on the Oilers. Hopefully this game woke them up to the realization they can’t look past these teams. Sadly, I’m not holding my breath. It’s the reason why I said I don’t see them as a true contender just yet. They have moments. But then they have games where they take control and just hand it back as quickly as they got it. You can’t do that in the playoffs and expect your season to continue.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Dominance Against Flyers At MSG Continues

Every time the Rangers and Flyers play each other, I get worried. I worry that someone is going to accidentally get seriously hurt. (Yes, accidentally. All injuries between these two teams recently have actually been accidents.) I worry that the Rangers dominance over their division rivals will come to an end. I worry that something crazy will happen to make me go back to hating the Flyers. Fortunately I had no reason to worry tonight as everyone came out okay (as of this writing) and the right team came out on top.

(Editors Note: Earlier I worried about the Rangers jinxing the outcome by pointing out the streak they currently had against the Flyers. I am sorry for doubting you Rangers. I forgot that stuff like that doesn’t matter when it comes to games between these two teams.)

As expected, both teams came out with plenty of energy leading to numerous chances each way. (Actually I was a little surprised the Rangers actually came out with the energy they said they would have. Too many times, that has been just words.) Five and a half minutes in, Zac Rinaldo does what he does best – take a stupid penalty. (When beat writers on both sides and those watching without a team to cover say it was a dumb penalty, you know it was dumb.) Of course the Rangers power kill did nothing.

Fortunately for them the fourth line got a shift shortly after it and exactly a minute after the penalty ended, Derek Dorsett backhanded one from the crease to give the Rangers an early lead. The fourth line was probably the Rangers best line on Monday night and they picked up right where they left off tonight. It’s great that they are playing well but they shouldn’t be the best line on the team.

Of course the Rangers we know and love appeared for the rest of the period. It didn’t help Miller decided to completely take over for Kreider by taking his usual dumb penalty each game late in the period. (Hey J.T., Kreider usually takes his penalty late in the third not first. Although I guess this is a better option.) The boys didn’t look horrible but Henrik Lundqvist was the best guy in blue. He usually is but he needed to be through the first twenty as the Flyers put 15 shots on net. His teammates mustered only 6. Somehow one went in. Got to love Flyers goaltending.

Another person who didn’t “look” good? Doc Emrick who spent the entire period mixing up Rangers players. I caught him thinking Brassard was Dorsett and Moore was St. Louis. I get that the numbers are close but when in the previous breath you mention their linemates, you have to realize you made a mistake. St. Louis and Boyle aren’t going to be on the ice together very often.

Early in the second period, Pierre McGuire was talking about Ryan McDonagh saying that while he won’t win, he should be in the conversation for the Norris Trophy this year. (I’ve said both for awhile.) McDonagh didn’t disappoint as shortly afterwards he made a great play at the blue line to keep the puck in the offensive zone, skated into the slot and let go of a laser that was in and out of the net so fast I didn’t realize he had scored. In my defense, I heard it hit iron so assumed he hit the post. Turns out I’m guessing he hit the back post and the Rangers had a 2-0 lead. Pierre’s first comment after the goal? “Worst trade in Montreal Canadiens history…” I would say I agreed but I’ve never really seen the problem with the trade.

The remainder of the period was a goaltending show with both netminders making highlight reel saves. Of course Lundqvist had to make a few more as the Flyers started to wake up after the Rangers doubled their lead. Unfortunately for them, Lundqvist was ready and stopped everything thrown at him. He did get some help by his defensemen as both Stralman (surprisingly) and Girardi made great plays to get the puck out of harms way in the later part of the period.

To say the Rangers started the third badly would be an understatement. The first couple of shifts seriously worried me as the boys looked slow and seemed to have no communication with each other. It was a couple of scary shifts but fortunately the Flyers weren’t able to generate much as the Rangers slowly remembered they still had a period of hockey to play. It helped that the referees stepped in and made a horrible call to wake the bench up. They called McDonagh for tripping which looked legit to me. But the player he tripped was called for a dive. Even helping my team I had to admit that was a horrible call. Fortunately the 4-on-4 looked like a power kill by both teams.

Seven and a half minutes into the period, Derick Brassard had a terrific defensive shift as he was able to make two plays that prevented Flyers chances. The second led to a turnover with the Rangers taking the puck up the ice and Klein throwing one towards the net that was deflected by Moore through Mason’s five hole. It had barely enough on it to trickle just over the goal line to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead. A lead created by two goals from the fourth line and one from a defenseman. At some point in time our star players will get back on the board. No idea when but they have to at some point.

Seven minutes later, Boyle came within inches of making it a hat trick for the fourth line but he hit the post. I’ll admit I laughed. Fortunately it didn’t matter but you know the guys are going to give it to him for missing when his linemates scored.

With three and a half minutes to go, the Flyers took a penalty (right after Doc Emrick had mentioned there hadn’t been many in the game) which one would think effectively ended their chances of getting back in the game. Vigneault did the right thing by making sure he had two defensemen on the ice at all times. Of course with thirty second remaining in the man advantage that really hadn’t been play or kill to that point, Staal felt the need to slash Raffl’s stick and headed to the box himself.

Off the ensuing face-off, with the teams at 4-on-4, the Flyers ended the shutout. I know the win is more important than the shutout, especially since the record was already broken, but I was pissed they couldn’t hold it for Lundqvist. That was as close as the Flyers would get as the Rangers would take their 8th straight home victory against Philadelphia, 3-1.

Of course the Flyers don’t know how to lose (or don’t know how to lose at MSG) so got frustrated and tried to start something in the closing seconds. Watching Simmonds go after McDonagh and Hartnell go after Girardi just made me shake my head. The referees broke it up quickly and sent them all off the ice. I always thought if players were sent to the locker room at the end of a game, they weren’t allowed back on the ice to celebrate win with team. Yet there were Girardi and McDonagh tapping helmets with Lundqvist. Girardi even made a comment as he went over “I’m back!” with a smirk on his face. I wonder if they snuck out or were told they could go.

Speaking of McDonagh, this quote by Vigneault tonight says all you need to know about his play recently:

I have been saying it for awhile but am so happy to hear others say it too. Let me make it clear, he is not going to win this year. And honestly I’m not even sure if he should. But he needs to be in the conversation. I don’t even care if he doesn’t end up at the awards ceremony as one of the top three vote getters. As long as he is in the top 10 when the final numbers are released and is mentioned by analysts when discussing the award. The kid is only 24 years old. He has plenty of years to win the award.

Next up, the boys head west on what could be a defining road trip. No team in western Canada is expected to make the playoffs with one already eliminated and another not far behind. But the Rangers always have trouble out there. Plus you know the game against Vancouver won’t be an easy one. If they can manage to come out of that trip with a winning record, I might actually believe this team could do damage in the playoffs. I know a lot of people have been saying they can but I hadn’t seen it from the team. I slowly am so maybe they are peaking at the right time. But I want to see how they do the next couple of games before getting too excited. This team never does what they are supposed to.

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On a separate note, a quick happy birthday to assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson who turned 50 today. The Rangers never mentioned it but the NBC broadcast did so Happy Birthday Ulf!

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Practices Notes: Kreider, Miller, Carcillo + M(o)ore

As expected, lots of news from the Rangers practice this morning. First off, the Rangers confirmed what we already knew by saying Chris Kreider has a hand injury. They still refuse to give a timeline but did say surgery is a possibility. (I’m guessing a timeline will be given once that has been determined.) The only thing we know for sure is he isn’t playing tonight and he isn’t heading to western Canada with the team this weekend. But the money quote to me:

I would gloat but sometimes I really hate being right. I re-watched the Phoenix game last night and thought I wasn’t as he seemed fine throughout most of the game. But I should know better and just go with my gut instinct. When it comes to these guys, it is never wrong. (I always knew when Ryan Callahan was playing with some type of issue, whether it be injury or illness, due to his change in play. After looking at ice time and realizing I didn’t remember Kreider doing anything the past few games, I knew something was up.)

So that’s the bad news. Let’s get to some good news.

In the least surprising move of the day, to replace Kreider the Rangers recalled J.T. Miller. For some reason the decision wasn’t made to do that until this morning so he wasn’t at the morning skate. There are some things I will never understand. A move like this is one of them so I’m not even going to question it. To start, Miller is expected to skate with Brassard and Zuccarello, while St. Louis will move into Kreider’s spot with Nash and Stepan.

Speaking of St. Louis and Stepan, they were both at practice today and said they felt much better. Both apparently had a nasty stomach bug that it sounds like they wouldn’t wish on their worst enemies.

I still don’t get how they sat on the bench through that whole game, nonetheless actually stepped on the ice. Being at the game, I missed the little tidbit the broadcast threw in about them being on IVs before the game. I give them credit for trying to help the team but whoever gave the okay to let them play should be fired. This wasn’t a playoff game and while team is in a playoff race, playing with only 10 forwards doesn’t help that.

Of course because they were allowed to play and apparently this stomach flu is contagious, Dan Carcillo now has it. Can we quarantine Carcillo so it doesn’t spread to anyone else? This just seems like common sense to me at this point. He’s out for tonight as Derek Dorsett remains in the lineup. (Funny how the fourth line guys are immediately taken out when they have the flu but if a top 6 forward has it, they let them try. Pretty sure they all feel close to the same way.)

Finally, in probably the best news of the day, John Moore was on the ice taking shots. He obviously won’t play tonight but the fact he was out there should be seen as a good sign. Hopefully he keeps feeling okay and is back soon. The plan is for him to go on the road trip (assuming he still feels okay later after skating for first time today). That doesn’t mean he will play but it’s definitely a good sign if he’s with the team.

And with that, only a couple of hours until probably one of the biggest games of the year. Forget the playoff ramifications with the outcome, there is a very good possibility this is a preview of the first round match-up that will take place in a couple of weeks. Here’s to hoping the Rangers play the entire 60 minutes like they did the last half of their last game. A slow start won’t be as easy to come back from as it was on Monday night.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Refuse To Confirm Timeline But Chris Kreider Injured

Don’t expect TSN to be breaking any New York Rangers related news anytime soon.

Roughly around 6pm this evening, Bob McKenzie did what Bob McKenzie does best – he got a lead and tweeted about it. He isn’t the type who has to be first or needs to get the credit for news so when he says something, whether everyone is saying it or he’s the first one, it’s usually right. That’s why Rangers fans freaked out when he tweeted this:

tweet

You will notice that is a screenshot. (Stick tap to @RangersofNY for grabbing it.) That’s because shortly after it was sent out, it was deleted.

**UPDATE** Now the tweet is back which you can see here with another one saying he doesn’t know how it got deleted. This whole thing is weird. That said, I’m sticking to my story below and thinking he just needed a cover up but Rangers let him re-send it. (Yes I know last part sounds weird so maybe he just decided he didn’t care and needed reason to put it out there again.)

Of course that led people to thinking the information was incorrect. I don’t like calling people dumb but anyone who follows this team and thought for even a second the info wasn’t true after the tweet was deleted should turn in their fan card. (Wanting it not to be true is different than actually thinking it wasn’t. We all wanted it not to be true.)

I have followed this team for too long to not see what happened here. When it comes to breaking news and/or injuries, the Rangers like to announce the news themselves. They don’t want things broken before they have a chance to spin it in whatever way they want to. So when McKenzie put this out there before they said anything, they were not happy and probably told him to take it down. Which he did.

Although TSN didn’t take down the article about it which you can see here. And in case that does eventually get taken down, here’s a screenshot of that as well:

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After the questions from beat writers came pouring in, the Rangers finally did confirm the following:

Really? Kreider isn’t playing tomorrow? I’m shocked.

But that fight between the Rangers and TSN won’t be our problem (although it will be fun to watch). Let’s talk about the injury.

First of all, it sucks. Kreider has been playing great and no team wants to lose a player like him (big body with offensive talent and speed) this time of year. And the timing couldn’t be worse as the Rangers will definitely need him against the Flyers tomorrow.

But the question everyone has is when did it occur? The assumption is it happened yesterday as Kreider basically sat the third period after being placed in the rotation with Stepan and St. Louis. No one thought anything of it since his ice time usually goes down in the third period and he never plays overtime. It’s very possible that’s true but I have another guess.

On Saturday night, Vigneault said two players were game time decisions due to being banged up. He didn’t say who, the regular roster played and we all forgot about it. Between the time that was announced and warmups began, I did some research and speculated that Kreider might be one of those players due to ice time. Let’s look at that ice time.

game log

On Friday against Columbus, he played 11:20 with what looks like from the TOI Summary a regular shift.

On Saturday that became less than ten minutes, something that doesn’t happen very often for Kreider. Now that was a close game and the TOI Summary again makes it look like he took a regular shift so anything is possible.

Yesterday he obviously didn’t play most of the third period, which again could be the injury or could be a numbers game. But those last three times stand out to me. Most nights he plays around 15 minutes and he is averaging 15:43 on the year. Playing around 10 minutes the last three games says to me something was wrong.

But until the Rangers confirm anything, all we can do is speculate. And my speculation is we won’t be seeing Kreider on the ice any time soon. (September, anyone?)

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)