The Day After: Additional Thoughts On Rangers-Red Wings

Two years ago, the Rangers and Red Wings played a January game at MSG that turned into a goaltending duel between Henrik Lundqvist and Jimmy Howard. It was said to be one of the best games of that year. I was supposed to be at the game. Instead I was lying in bed with the flu. (Side note: If hockey players feel even half as bad as I did over those five days when they are “out with the flu”, I have no idea how they even think of trying to play through it.) I guess the goaltenders wanted to give me another chance to live through that game by playing the one they did last night.

Anyway, Tom Albano did a great recap of the game (that you can see here, if you haven’t seen already) but I had a couple of things to add from being at the game.

– In case you missed it, Marek Hrivik was recalled to replace Dan Paille on the fourth line and made his NHL debut last night. He didn’t get much ice time (7:32, to be exact) but I’m going to assume he was solid in that time. Why? Because other than specifically looking for him over the first few minutes, I never noticed him on the ice. I’m going to take that as a sign he didn’t make any mistakes. It will be interesting to see if his minutes go up once he goes through a few practices or if he is even still here a week from now.

– Everybody, including myself, kept asking why Jimmy Howard remembers how to be a goaltender any time he steps on the ice at MSG. One possible reason? He grew up in Syracuse, NY and his favorite player as a kid was Mike Richter.

– The disallowed goal. From the replay I saw, it looked like the right call even though there was plenty of time between the contact with Howard and the shot by Kevin Hayes. I’ve also heard mention that Howard tripped Oscar Lindberg which is what caused the contact. (I’ll admit I missed that part.) The Rangers said after the game they asked why no tripping call on Howard. If Lindberg was indeed tripped, it’s a good question. Here’s my issue with the entire thing, which is the same issue most people have with the NHL – consistency. Remember the “wheel of justice” people used to jokingly spin for suspensions? These reviews are worse. What one officiating crew thinks should be disallowed another feels is a good goal. They need to figure it out before April because I can see it now – a playoff series will be decided on one of these calls. And it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if it’s in the Final again, as it was in 2014.

I also couldn’t help but think of this Marian Hossa quote from a few weeks ago when the announcement was made:

“The league wants to get more goals, but it seems like the rule is doing a good job of taking good goals away,” Hossa said. “Last year, definitely, that would be a goal. No questions asked.”

He’s right. Only in the NHL.

– To be honest, what irritated me more than the no goal was the penalties called in the second and third periods. J.T. Miller get rocked at center ice leading to Derick Brassard going after Helm. I completely agree Brassard should have had the extra penalty and have no problem with him taking it. But holding on him and nothing else? So basically the penalty was for the two of them hugging it out. Since when is that a penalty? (It should have been roughing or nothing.)

Then you have the invisible penalties to Keith Yandle (his second one) and Dan Girardi. I have no idea how you call interference on a guy being high sticked other than wanting to keep the penalties even. And to be fair, I didn’t see Quincey’s tripping penalty on Derek Stepan and have seen some mention that the penalty shot was the wrong call. (It looked like the right call to me but I guess that could go either way. Didn’t really matter as I’m pretty sure everyone in the building knew Fast wasn’t scoring on it.)

– As for the only goal of the game, who ever thought we would be saying the words “that was a incredible game saving defensive play by Chris Kreider in overtime”? I know I never thought I would say that but wow. I just remember thinking Henrik Lundqvist made a great save and then wondering why the puck was all of a sudden back in play. If a Red Wing had found that puck instead of Kreider, game over. I guess that’s one positive to 3-on-3 as there was no way there would be a Red Wing that close to the net at that point.

But between the play Kreider makes, the speed and pass by Kevin Hayes and the smarts of Kevin Klein to be ready to shoot, that goal was beautiful. And it basically came from three players you wouldn’t expect it from. (It also shows what type of team the Rangers currently have that those guys are on the ice together in overtime. Kreider, if playing to his believed potential, should be out there. The others? I’m not so sure.)

– And finally, before the game Vigneault was asked about any other call ups from Hartford (namely on defense). His response was along the lines of probably not as they are trying to keep cap space available for one or two moves in the next week. The belief around the league is the Rangers are all in on making a run this year, which is what I’ve expected all along. I’ve also said the Rangers are going to do something. The question is what. We’ll know a week from today.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Advertisements

Rangers Book List + Arbitration, Signings + A Wedding!

For the middle of July, there is a lot of “news” in Rangerstown. Okay, some of this isn’t news but there is actual news so we’ll get to that first.

The one thing all Rangers fans are focused on is the signing of Derek Stepan. We now know it will happen before the end of July as his hearing is rumored to be scheduled for July 27th. (Neither the NHLPA or NHL have officially announced the dates but according to the Rangers beat writers, that is when Stepan is scheduled for.) UPDATE: It’s official. NHLPA announced Stepan’s hearing will be Monday, July 27th.

You have probably read a lot of speculation that says he will end up in a court room with the Rangers. I don’t believe it will happen. (I also didn’t believe he would hold out and miss camp last time his contract was up but this time, I think I’m right.) Here’s why I don’t think it will get there:

The Rangers need him.

It’s really that simple. They need him. And they know they need him. They are still in win-now mode so they are not moving him for spare parts and hoping that Derick Brassard, Kevin Hayes, Dominic Moore and Oscar Lindberg (or whoever else they can find for cheap to fill the last role) will get them to hockey in June. It won’t happen. And that’s nothing against any of those players. But actual contenders, which the Rangers believe they are, are a lot stronger down the middle than that lineup. They also wouldn’t have traded Carl Hagelin if they didn’t plan to re-sign Stepan.

These things take time and until I hear the door to the court room has closed and both sides are inside, I’m not believing it will get to that. I’m also not believing he’ll be traded before or after the hearing. (And yes, contrary to what you may have read, he can be traded. But he won’t be.)

Two more weeks and we can finally stop talking about all of this. (And that’s a definite because no matter what, we’ll know the outcome after his hearing date.)

**********

On Friday, the Rangers took care of two RFA signings that will have nothing to do with their salary cap come September as they agreed to terms with both Magnus Hellberg, the goalie they received from Nashville earlier in the month, and Marek Hrivik. Per CapFriendly, Hellberg received a two year deal for $575k per year while Hrivik received the same amount on a one year deal. Not sure if they are one or two-way deals but I’m going to assume two-way. It will be interesting to see if Hrivik battles for a spot in camp. I thought he was a dark horse last year so maybe he needed a little extra time.

**********

Now for the non-news.

Anyone who knows anything about the players not relating to stats, knows we have a pretty smart bunch in the locker room as many of the guys went and even graduated from college. (And most, if not all, didn’t have philosophy or general studies as their major.) One of the smartest of the bunch is Chris Kreider. It’s no secret he speaks multiple languages but he also loves to read. CNBC is doing a summer reading series and recently asked Kreider for his list of must read books. They are:

Never Let Go: A Philosophy of Lifting, Living and Learning; by Dan John

Six Months to Live…Three Guys on the Ultimate Quest for a Miracle; by Arthur Boyle

The Old Man and the Sea; by Ernest Hemingway

The Name of the Wind; by Patrick Rothfuss

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born, It’s Grown. Here’s How.; by Daniel Coyle

Quite an interesting list there. And for those who questioned how smart he really is, he reads Hemingway for fun. No one reads Hemingway for fun. You can read his reasons for each book here.

The one book I am interested in is the second one. It was written by ex-Ranger Brian Boyle’s father about his battle with cancer and how he miraculously beat what doctors believed was terminal. Definitely plan on picking that one up at some point.

**********

And lastly, some good news. Per unofficial pictures posted on social media, it sounds as if Dominic Moore was re-married on Saturday. Everyone knows the story of how he lost his wife to cancer a few years ago so it is great to hear that he was able to find happiness again. Congrats Dom!

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Get First Preseason Win In Chicago

Whenever the Rangers play the Blackhawks, I get conflicted inside. I make it no secret I love both teams. But when it comes down to it, I bleed blue so while I felt horrible for Crawford tonight and couldn’t understand what Sharp was doing, I am very pleased with the outcome of the game.

The game started off well for the visitors as less than a minute in, Sharp gave the puck away to the Rangers on his own blue line and roughly ten seconds later, Lindberg put it in the back of the net. That play basically described the period as the Blackhawks had a sloppy period and the Rangers looked like the better, more experienced team.

Ten minutes later, the Rangers doubled their lead as Nash found Duclair wide open on the side of the net for his first goal as a Ranger. I don’t think I’ve seen a player smile more than Duclair did after that goal. That was all the Rangers got for the period but they did try to extend their lead. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, didn’t get another shot until the second period.

At that point I knew what to expect in the second period and I was right. The Blackhawks came out flying and the Rangers came out…like it was the second period. Guys, you really need to work on that. You can’t keep skipping the middle frame and hoping everything will be okay.

Lundqvist played half the period and almost got out with the shutout when Lindberg gave the puck away in the neutral zone and the Blackhawks made him pay. I need to see another angle of the replay but it almost looked like McDonagh put it past Lundqvist. I could be wrong on that. Either way, the Blackhawks cut the lead in half and Lundqvist headed to the bench. (It happened at roughly the ten minute mark of the period so Vigneault made the switch then.)

The Rangers woke up for a little bit of the latter part of the period but I would still say the Blackhawks won that period as easily as the Rangers won the first. The two teams played solid but unspectacular in the third period. The difference? The Rangers got two goals while the Blackhawks got none, giving them the victory.

Again, it’s only preseason so I’m not going to recap minute by minute but definitely a solid win considering the roster the Blackhawks used. Their bottom lines might have been kids but their top six were far from it. Preseason or not, the boys should feel good about that win.

**********

As for players, I can’t really recap everyone like I did Monday night as it’s harder to see guys when watching on TV. There were a few I noticed.

I’ll mention it for the sake of mentioning it but J.T. Miller had another solid game. Again, he probably had a spot before Stepan’s injury so now he definitely has one. I just want to see how he does once he gets it. I don’t think Vigneault will be afraid to send him down in a couple of weeks if he stops playing the way he’s been. My guess is he stays in New York this year.

Other than the giveaway on the Blackhawks first goal, I thought Oscar Lindberg had a very solid game. The battle for that fourth center spot was going to be tough to begin with. Stepan going down gives someone an extra opportunity to prove they belong. Lindberg definitely isn’t hurting his case.

As for surprises, Chris Bourque has a very good shot and isn’t afraid to take it. He might not have scored but he was noticeable. I’m not sure if there is a spot for him but he definitely didn’t hurt himself with his play tonight.

I also was impressed with Marek Hrivik. He wasn’t noticed every shift but when he was involved, you definitely noticed him. And while I don’t expect him to score goals like the one he did tonight often, it was some pretty good coordination on his part. He probably would’ve made the team last year if not for an early injury so I wouldn’t be surprised if he had an inside track with a good camp. The coaching staff is definitely going to have some tough decisions to make up front.

And I can’t not mention Anthony Duclair. The kid definitely didn’t look out of place and had some good chemistry with Nash. He took a bad penalty to start the third but I won’t hold that against him. The thing is I truly believe it doesn’t matter how good he plays, he is still going to be going back to juniors. The Rangers don’t really have a choice because it’s either that or leave him in New York the entire year. And while he looked good tonight, I’m just not sure they are ready to do that. We’ll see how he does in his next game.

I was really hoping to see a lot from Ryan Haggerty but I didn’t. Not sure if he didn’t have a good game or just wasn’t noticeable on TV. I’m really hoping he plays on Monday so I can see him in person. As for defense, Conor Allen had a solid game as I can’t remember any glaring mistakes while Dylan McIlrath still doesn’t look ready. Although he did have a fight and won it easily against a guy who is known for fighting. I’m just not sure on his defensive play.

**********

And with that, the Rangers get two more practice days before a back-to-back, home and home with the Flyers. Not going to lie, I’m not really looking forward to those games. I just want the Flyers to play hockey and not be stupid but I never know what to expect from that roster.

 

(Photo: Chris Rutsch/flickr)

Whale Go Out With A Whimper

I'm down too, Pucky. Also going to miss you if the rumors are true... (Photo: Doug Kerr/flickr)

I’m down too, Pucky. Also going to miss you if the rumors are true… (Photo: Doug Kerr/flickr)

It wasn’t a good weekend for the Whale as they lost both of their games in regulation to the Albany Devils on Friday and Portland Pirates on Saturday by scores of 3-2 and 5-1. Kris Newbury and Christian Thomas had the goals against the Devils with Marek Hrivik getting the loan goal against the Pirates.

I’m not going to sit here and rehash the games because (1) they lost and (2) well they weren’t pretty so I’m sure no one really wants to re-live them. If you do, here are video highlights of both:

Read more of this post

Not A Good Weekend For The Whale

Brandon Mashinter scored the goal that got the Whale their only point of the weekend. (Photo: Chris Rutsch/flickr)

Brandon Mashinter scored the goal that got the Whale their only point of the weekend. (Photo: Chris Rutsch/flickr)

The Whale entered the home stretch to the playoffs this weekend with their last 3-in-3 of the regular season, all games coming on the road. On Friday morning, they had a playoff spot. By Sunday night, they were clinging so tightly to it as this was definitely a weekend the boys would like to forget.

Friday night the Whale were in Manchester for a match-up with the Monarchs. The game started well as Chris Kreider scored a beautiful power play goal late in the first period with assists to Benn Ferriero and Kris Newbury. Unfortunately that would be all the Whale could muster as the Monarchs scored three unanswered goals (Weal, Pearson and an empty-netter to Kozun) over the last forty minutes to take the 3-1 victory.

Read more of this post

Time For Some Babbling On The Rangers & Whale

Is someone headed to NYC so he can put this jersey on again instead of a green one? (Photo: clyde/flickr)

So we’re stuck between the lockout ending and the season beginning meaning there isn’t a whole lot going on at the moment. Therefore you get to read what I like to call a stream of consciousness regarding our organization (i.e. a bunch of random thoughts/info that has nothing to do with one another).

Bear with me, I promise to make it worthwhile.

Read more of this post

Whale Gain Points In Weekend Games

OT loss + Shutout Win = 3 out of 4 points and a deserving stick salute! (Photo: @kaboom23/twitter)

Yes the NHL lockout is over. That doesn’t mean we are going to stop talking about the Whale. It just means our recaps may become more weekly rather than daily. (Side note: If anyone is interested in covering the Whale full-time for the site, by all means contact me.)

Speaking of the Whale, it was a pretty good weekend for the boys as they grabbed five out of a possible six points. It started on Friday as they shutout the Adirondack Phantoms at home. You can read about that game here.

Saturday nights’ rematch against the Phantoms in Adirondack didn’t go as well as but it wasn’t a total loss. Lineup for the Whale remained the same with Cam Talbot back in net. The teams combined for 42 penalty minutes, which included two fights, so it was your typical Rangers-Flyers game.

Read more of this post