Last Saturday seems so long ago. To recap, the Rangers beat the Blue Jackets, the best team in league at the moment, coming back from a 4-1 deficit to win 5-4. We were hoping that the following afternoon the GMEN would stop Aaron Rodgers and his Packer Teammates setting up round III, the thrilla that ain’t vanilla, against the hated Cowboys. Well, the GMEN fell short but we still had the Rangers who had won 5 of 6 and ready to embark on a strange middle of the season 5 day vacation. Tonight’s game against Toronto would be Austin Matthews’ debut at the worlds most famous arena. However, home ice recently, has been a house of horrors for the Broadway Blueshirts. Sadly, that house is even more horrid as our boys were rolled 4-2.
1. Hank is a problem. Carp has said it over and over. Others have said more times than I care to count. A few more even wished it was Talbot that stayed and Hank, his 8.5 million dollars per, his icy blue eyes and gorgeous mane, was the one sent packing. All wishful thinking because he’s here, not going anywhere, and no longer the King. Not even a Prince. More like Court Jester.
2. What bothers me more than the one or more softees virtually every game, is his bug-eyed stare down after a teammate has ANYTHING even remotely to do with the puck winding up behind #30. The TSN team during the second period intermission said that Hank stares down more teammates than any other goalie in the league. Now, I watch a lot of hockey, more than my wife readily allows, and I’ve yet to see ANY goalie EVER stare down a mate. It’s not right. It has to stop. And it must end soon.
3. I wonder if there’s a problem in the room. Surely McD had to notice Hank’s evil eye on the leafs third goal. Surely Girardi, Ein Klein, Shay, Staal, Gerund, JT, Haze, Puree, Lindberg, Zucc, Stepan, and every other player on the team has been privey to that stare down. Not cool. The wrath of Hank. Too bad The Wrath was traded. Imagine if #6 was the guilty party. A great headline ‘The Wrath earns Hank’s wrath’. It might be time for the Ranger players to start giving Hank the bug-eye death stare every time one of those center ice bouncy pucks slips by him within the first 20 seconds of name your game.
4. I’ve heard from good sources that Hank gives himself that stare down in between periods whenever he gives up his inevitable softee. But it’s different. Standing before a full length mirror, not a hair out of place, Hank gazes deeply into his steel blue eyes which are bluer than robins’ eggs, and recites his manta “it’s ok, not your fault, you wore lavender Armini to the game, and you’re beautiful.”
5. This team isn’t going far this spring if Henrik continues his poor play. They’re not. Raanta is the better, more dependable, goalie right now. The Court Jester still makes the great save on occasion as he came up big several times against the young Leaf team, but it’s the too often bad goals that are happening at an alarming rate. And unless Hank finds a way to plug his five-hole, or Raanta is promoted to number one, it surely will be one and done regardless of their opponent come April.
6. This game was destined to not end well. A) The Rangers were coming off a 5-day break (so were the Leafs, but that’s beside the point); B) The Garden was honoring the passing of Detective S. McDonald with an emotional and well deserved pre-game ceremony. The Rangers have done historically well on the road whenever another team has a ceremony, but are atrocious at home when MSG does the hosting; C) The return of Rick Nash and Pavel Buch caused AV to roll a foreign and strange set of line combinations. And it’s not a surprise to anyone by mentioning thst game chemistry is no where near the same as practice induced familiarity. The speed just isn’t the same; D) The leafs are a young team starting 8 rookies and even though they’re likely much further along than they’d even hoped they’re still a young team ready to be had; E) The Leafs had lost 4 in-a-row to the Rangers; and F) The Rangers were home and the familiar confines of the Garden have not been terribly kind of late.
7. We often joke about former teammate’s scoring goals against our boys. How about a former teammates’ son scoring goals against the Rangers? William Nylander, son of Jägr line mate Michael, scored the first Leafs’ goal after Hank made several big saves. Ironic in that the quiet garden crowd chanted Henriq, Henriq, Henriq and after the 4th chant, the former King allowed a bad bad goal.
8. The TSN announcers mentioned that as a 9 year old, William played ball hockey with Hank. It had to be an amazing feeling to score a goal against a player that you likely idolized, and played against, as a child.
9. Looked like Shay was the one who allowed, or helped, Hank to give up so a weak goal. Wandering aimlessly, caught covering no one, Shay once again let everyone know that even though he skates like the wind, he handicaps his partner. I’m sure Hank gave Shay the death stare but since Shay was right in front of him, the TV cameras were none the wiser and we never noticed the insult.
10. The Rangers were not bad 5 on 5 tonight. They had chances and tested Andersen early and often but were unable to capitalize on their chances. Andersen was the better goalie and that’s usually enough for a team to come away with the two points.
11. The Ranger PP in the other hand was still on vacation. They really didn’t too much at all with the man advantage. Pirri once again showed that the pre-season was his Cup Final and the regular season a mere waste of time. That experiment will end once the Zman is back. Z will also help in faceoffs. The Rangers have been really bad last month or so. At one point tonight, Stepan was 1 for 12. The Leafs were around 60%. That’s not anywhere near good enough. What happened to all that offseason video work? Seems a distant memory.
12. The Rangers began the game with: Miller-Haze-Grabner; THE-Step-Zucc; Gnash-Lindberg-VC; and Buch-Pirri-Fast. Not exactly how the the lines we saw at the beginning of the season. It will be interesting to see what AV does going forward. You know it isn’t going to remain the way it’s listed above. In fact, AV put Gnash with Grabner and Haze in the third.
13. Once Z is back, I would like to see: Miller/Haze/Grabner; THE/Z/Buch; Gnash/Step/Zucc; and VC/Lindberg/Fast. If Hank can end the soft goal BS and if the forwards help backcheck, and if the special teams resume where they were 6 days ago, all hope is not lost. But then again, if ODB doesn’t drop those two early passes, and DRC doesn’t hurt his thigh, maybe I’m pumped for Cowboys/Giants this Sunday.
14. While the game was over at 2-0, THE scored a beautiful goal on a third effort which made the score 2-1. He’s back in early season beast mode and it’s a pleasure to see this incredible physical specimen playing up to the hype we’ve laid at his feet.
15. It’s not all bad. Our injured boys are healing and there’s too much talent to not make the playoffs. The key of course is Hank. He must be better and more consistent game to game. The Metro however is the toughest division in the NHL and finishing 5th, could be a blessing. Of course if CBJ wins the division and the Rangers finish 4th – which is where the Rangers likely finish – I’ll not be displeased. That said, the Penguins and Capitals are are going to have a big say in who winds up in first.
16. I expect Raanta to play next in Montreal. Hank, aside from the ECF in 2014, doesn’t play his best against the Habs as a visitor.
17. A real shame the Rangers were unable to honor Detective McDonalds memory with a better performance. The Captain Mark Messier and his sidekick Adam Graves were in the house and I’m sure they expected a better effort to honor their fallen hero.
18. I don’t have much more. A fairly pedestrian game void of any passion which was to be expected given the lengthy break. And it’s on to Montreal and let’s win there.
19. As much as I don’t want to see CBJ win, they beat TB tonight and that makes me happy. I really dislike that team and especially their coach.
My three Stars: THE, JT Miller, Zucc