I haven’t been able to read E3’s review. I’m sure it’s excellent. Thanks again!
Tennessee is the home to two iconic cities, Memphis and Nashville, that have a long storied musical history. The Grand Ole Opery, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette to name but a few. The Memphis Horns were the session players for many outstanding studio recordings. In fact, one of my favorite albums is “Dusty in Memphis”, featuring the soul scorching “Breakfast in Bed” and the brilliant “Son of a Preacher Man”. Tremendous musical history.
1) This was a good night for the Rangers and their fans. Filthy Flyers lost to Dallas, Senators beat the Devils, Montreal beat the Capitals, Toronto beat the Penguins in OT, and our sexy sexy boys beat the Predators in an exciting game with many chances for both sides. For two teams that only see each other twice a year, this game was a chippy passionate affair, and a pleasure to watch. The Nashville feed color analyst, Stu “The Grim Reaper” Grimson said after the game it was one of the most exciting games they covered this season. It was for me as well.
2) There were many good plays from both sides as well as some bad plays and mistakes in which the goalies, Rangers’ Hank and the Preds billionaire George, Don’t Call Me Soros, Saros were forced to make huge saves throughout. Hank more so. Since Pekker Rimmer was not playing, I felt the Rangers had a big advantage in goal, but the billionaire showed he can do much more than make lots of money. Splitting time between Milwaukee and Nashville, Saros has put up some impressive numbers going 40-10 with GAA of 1.7 and change over the last two years.
2) I anticipated a hostile crowd as Kevin Klein was in the house and the Predator fans did not disappoint. They were on him every time Jimmy VC was on the ice. While my hearing is no longer 20-20, there was no mistaking Ein Klein sucks every time VC touched the puck. Ein Klein has been playing with a nasty edge ever since he was a healthy scratch a bit ago. In the second, after Shay threw several big checks, James Neal had a few words for Shay and a shove into the boards. Ein Klein, who has become Shay’s bodyguard, took exception to Neal’s treatment and delivered a sweet slash on that Richard Cranium James Neal (more on Neal later). Even though Klein was given a minor it was nice to see the Rangers stand up for one another. A big departure from last game that saw Tweakin Eakin nearly decapitate Henrik while he was behind his net with no response whatsoever from the boys in white last game versus Dallas.
3) Speaking of Hank, does anyone else get nervous whenever The King is handling the puck? Good lord. It’s bad enough that Hank cannot make a pass to save himself, he takes way too long before making his terrible pass. You can practically see the Rangers’ D looking confused because they have no idea what Hank is going to do. I have seen deer in my headlights look more responsive that Hank with the puck on his stick. It’s ironic because John McEnroe has said that out of all the non-tennis professionals that he has hit with, Lundqvist has the best hands and is the best player. Maybe Hank should ditch the goalie stick and play with a Prince Control strung at 55 pounds.
4) As mentioned, Hank takes his sweet time with the puck on his stick. Once hank ventures behind his net to fetch the black disc, you can go out, have a smoke, come back in, and there’s The King with the puck still on his stick, only now there are three opposition forecheckers up in his face. I’d venture a guess that the only thing that takes longer is Stepan getting off his wrist shot. No kidding. As slow at the bald one skates, his trigger seems even slower.
5) Now concerning Stepan, he’s having a rough time this year handling passes cleanly. In the first, he misplayed a JT pass as it bounced off of his stick and it led to a breakaway. Fortunately, Hank made a huge save with the help of a monster two handed slash from Marc Staal. It seems that Stepan has had quite a few of these types of errors lately. He is not playing career best hockey this season no matter what the stat sheet says. He’s not made good decisions with the puck, remains the slowest player on the team, and is probably the softest player on a fairly soft team.
6) Another Ranger with the puck receiving yips is JT Miller. At least twice on the Rangers’ first power play, the flow was interrupted because JT could not take a pass cleanly Again, not the first time this year JT has had issues with the puck bouncing off his stick in the offensive zone. That said, he’s still my favorite Ranger. However, these guys should be able to handle eggs passed to them without breaking. Perhaps JT, Stepan, Ribbit and Fast can stay on the ice after practice playing catch with the puck to improve this basic skill.
7) Back to James Neal. My favorite Michael Del Zotto moment as a Ranger came in the first period years ago against the Penguins. Now, while I truly dislike seeing any player get hurt, i admit to smiling ear-to-ear as Del Zotto and Neal were just off to right of Hank and MDZ threw a lovely elbow knocking Neal out and out of that of that game and several others with a concussion. Neal is a dirty cheap shot artist and I can’t stand him.
8) The game started well for the Rangers. The first five shots on goal were superb scoring chances and all could have been goals. THE, JT, Zucc, and THE again had quality chances early on. Saros made some big saves and Zucc’s shot after hitting Saros’ arm nicked the crossbar. The Rangers controlled the play for the first half of the opening period. The loss of PK Subban with an upper body injury certainly helped the Rangers’ cause and even though they only finished with eight SOG, all eight were quality chances.
9) Rick Gnash opened the scoring in period 1 with a nice power move down the left wing where he blistered a wrist shot short side from a bad angle over the shoulder of the 5 foot 11 Saros. Easy to say it was a terrible goal if you are a Predators’ fan. I’d have to agree. Nice to see Gnasher regaining his scoring touch after a horrid year last year. My money is on Big Rick leading the team in goals scored this year but as always, it’s the post-season that remains his big test. He needs to keep scoring big goals, important goals, because all those 5 and 6 goal games we saw earlier in the year have dried up. Every goal now is important. Tim and space are limited and Gnasher has the size, strength, and skill to dominate down low where the dirty goals are scored. The first ended 1-0, Rangers.
10) The Rangers are showing the league that they are capable of winning games that are tight checking. Their cycle game and wall play has improved. No longer reliant on track meet hockey, the Rangers have adapted to the type of defense they are seeing more often than not. Clogging the neutral zone was successful earlier this season and the Rangers had trouble adapting to anything other than run and gun, fast break, wheeling and dealing hockey. Even more promising was the play in their own end. They were efficient clearing away rebounds after Hank made the initial save time and time again. The Rangers’ D were the first stick on just about every loose puck and the forwards were a big help back checking. The team played a good defensive game and they have definitely tightened things up defensively from where they were a month ago. But still, there’s room for improvement. It wasn’t perfect. Girardi was beat wide at least once. Staal was caught out of position a few times. Shay mishandled a pass from JT late in the third giving Nashville a great scoring chance. But whatever problems the skaters had with bad passes and turnovers, Hank was there to bail them out.
11) The King had an impressive game. An excellent game. A difference maker to be sure. He made several outstanding saves and his glove hand was big. One had to be worried after he took that shot to the head last game. The hit itself was bad enough but because a goalie is never expecting to be checked like that. Hank never braced himself before he was clobbered. That shot hurt me and I was lying on my couch drinking a beer (Hops Stupid – damn tasty). As a result, I was worried that today he’d have a stiff neck or worse. But there he was in goal ready for battle. The time off was good for his game. He looks sharp and he’s playing with confidence.
12) Nashville tied the score 1-1 in the second when JT had the puck bounce off his stick in the middle of the ice in his own end above the circles and as soon as it happened you could sense what was to happen. Hank looked screened as Mike Fisher kept the puck low to the ice beating Hank stick side.
13) The refs didn’t do the Rangers many favors. In the first Ribero was deep in the corner in the Rangers’ end with the puck at his feet just waiting. for at least five seconds, like he was a point guard setting up a pick and roll, holding a broken stick. Without touching the puck with his broken stick, he eventually played it with his skates, still holding the broken stick. After making the pass with his feet, he skated off, still holding that broken stick (like it was a good luck charm or something) for at least three strides before FINALLY dropping it. Isn’t that a penalty? Later In the second, Klein on a jack in the box play was practically tackled on his breakaway, no call.
14) Lindberg played a good game. He is a physical player that likes to hit. As soon as he starts scoring some goals and providing more offense, we can safely say the rust has worn off. THE Kreider also played a good game and had several excellent scoring chances.
15) The third period was all Nashville and the Rangers did all they could to hang on. Hank made several game saving stops. Nashville was determined and they were coming in waves but the Rangers denied every second chance opportunity. The clear wasn’t as good as the puck stayed in the zone, but nearly all of it was on the perimeter.
16) The game ended 1-1 and it was on to OT. The Rangers didn’t touch the puck for the first two minutes and when they eventually had possession, they did nothing with it. Three on Three OT is more of a chess games than anything else. Possession is everything. With the puck you can change the other two players while the team defending has to stay put. This game saw Zucc, Step, and McD on the ice for the first 54 seconds of OT. It was not until a puck went up in the netting behind Hank that the Rangers got their first change. That’s a long time to be on the ice after 65 minutes playing on the road.
17) Why doesn’t Grabner, an excellent PK man, the fastest player on his team, with a ton of open ice, get time 3 on 3? The last 6 seconds of OT doesn’t count.
18) The shootout. Hank makes a save on Johannson. VC scores after some nifty moves and a great shot. Again the fans chanted EIN KLEIN SUCKS. Nashville misses the net. Zucc does some more of his soft hands magic….see the puck, now you don’t, now it’s in the net. Rangers win 2-1. Now it’s on to MSG vs the Devils and let’s win there
My three stars:
3. Ein Klein
Honorable mention: BIg Game Brass, who scored the GWG for the Senators. Just as I called it.