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Feb
03

The Rangers have officially waved the white flag

February 3, 2018, by

In early December, I made my maiden voyage to MSG to the first-ever boxing match between two time Olympic gold medalists. The historic Vasyl Lomanchenko-Guiellermo Rigondeaux fight was supposed to be a high-speed chess match between two of the world’s top fighters. It was instead, a bloodletting. The younger and much faster Lomanchenko peppered Rigondeaux so thoroughly for 6 rounds that “The Jackal” made up an injury and refused to fight any longer.

You see where I’m going here.

Normally in this space, I’d post some charts or graphs or fill you in on some new level of analysis and share with you my thoughts on the direction of the team. When it comes to hockey, I realized a long time ago that discerning anything about a team’s quality from one game was fool’s gold. There are just too many variables happening at once to figure out the difference between the signal and the noise.

So I went to Rangers-Leafs tilt as fan. I can’t say I left that way.

I arrived at the arena a few minutes late, so I had to watch the start of the game on the monitors from the concourse. As the cameras zoomed in the puck, I saw the Leafs toying with the Rangers, with dazzling displays of edge work and an overwhelming sense of confidence up and down the ice. For those five minutes, I thought I was watching a modern incarnation of the 2009-10 Blackhawks, the most dominant team of the past decade. Surely, if there was any fight left in the Rangers, they would survive this flurry and settle the game back down.

Not long after I took my seat (and many thanks to the lovely lady and her adorable 6 year old that let me sit next to them), the Leafs scored on a Zach Hyman deflection directly in front of Henrik Lundqvist. Then followed a JVR goal through the five hole. A Marleau goal off a rebound.

A good hockey game has a certain soundtrack to it. When the home team lays out a big out hit or digs in their skates to creates a series of rushes up the ice, a murmur of anticipation builds to a crescendo and then a climax once the team scores. There was none of that. I wouldn’t be overreacting to say the arena was loudest when the Junior Rangers took the ice at intermission, and that was when half the stadium was in line for concessions.

Mats Zucarello played like a one man army for a coach that didn’t deserve his effort. Hank was chased after allowing 4 goals on 13 shots. Jimmy Vesey and Tony DeAngelo seemed to be the only players that realized that skating with the puck was a better option than gifting the Leafs another wayward stretch pass in the neutral zone.

Pavel Buchnevich literally stood still for so long on the powerplay I thought there was a stoppage in play (this was apparently before his injury). The Leafs forecheck swarmed the Rangers’ breakout at every opportunity, while the Rangers returned the favor by granting safe passage through the blue line to anyone in sight.

The worst part is, the Leafs never looked all that impressive so the fans couldn’t even boo properly. Half of the crowd was headed home by the commercial break in the third period, and from my seat in the nosebleeds, it looked like the team on the bench was eager to join them.

Due to his overall dispiriting effort, the final bell of the December fight signaled the likely end of Rigondeaux’s once-impressive career. And although it was just one game, the final “Go Leafs Go” chant of the night probably indicates the death knell of this once-promising season.

"The Rangers have officially waved the white flag", 5 out of 5 based on 19 ratings.

30 comments

  1. Emile the Cat says:

    Great article… just kinda saddened me a little, I was expecting so much more this season.

  2. Bloomer says:

    The Rangers didn’t look anymore impressive on TV as well. Whatever is in store for the team on the trade deadline, I think it’s important that the remaining squad remember that they are paid to perform. They are no different then Joe Lunch Pail, where you are only as good as your last day worked.

    Playing in the NHL is a privilege, the fans is what matters. Otherwise the players are just a bunch of haysticks playing hockey on a frozen pond in the great white north.

  3. roadrider says:

    Matt Zuccarello “played like a one man army”? Really? What game were you at? There was one goal where he badly trailed the play while a guy he should have been covering waltzed in and scored. And then there were the numerous giveaways and botched passes. Perhaps you were thinking of Rick Nash who actually did create a bunch of chances while playing “like a one man army”.

    And “the Leafs never looked all that impressive”? Again, what game were you watching? They looked pretty damn impressive to me even if you can attribute some of it to the Rangers’ poor play. Perhaps you forgot what you wrote just 5 paragraphs before:

    I saw the Leafs toying with the Rangers, with dazzling displays of edge work and an overwhelming sense of confidence up and down the ice. For those five minutes, I thought I was watching a modern incarnation of the 2009-10 Blackhawks,

  4. Rich S says:

    Another game we get overwhelmed from the opening faceoff and AV makes no adjustments ….how about changing the forechecking , changing the defensive system, go to a trap, run the goalie, start checking everything that moves, start a fight……… etc etc …….something……anything …..chewing your gum and watching this team embarrass themselves is not a good strategy………
    I still maintain that with all the #1 picks we have in the lineup, as well as the highly sought after college free agents…….this team should be playing better…..UNLESS this is gortons plan to allow AV to keep losing and get a high #1 draft pick……

    • 1994fan says:

      10000% agree with you. We may not have the greatest talent but we have NO CHANCE with a coach that does not deploy his assets correctly. He has no ability to change his system during a game. ZERO.

      We never out coach an opponent plus he is very quick to throw his players under the bus…like he is not a part of the problem/solution.

      He needs to go.

    • Mike says:

      Brooks is a Rangers employee. He gives Vigneault and his aloof incompetence a complete pass. If Dolan cared at all, AV would be long gone.

  5. Gary says:

    All part of the plan… I hope. The plan was probably to put an incomplete team on the ice (down the middle once the 2 kids showed they were not ready) and let it sink or swim, with sink being the preferred option because that will allow Gorton to complete the incomplete picture he started by trading away Stepan and not replacing him with an NHL player.

    So here in Boston the local sports radio station has “the Hockey Show” on Sat. mornings and one of the headline subjects? Yup, the Rangers fire sale and who could land where. Talk of Nash, Grabs, Zucc and of course, MacD. I think Brooks was allowed to run this up the pole so early so as to soften up the non-hardcore fans and also to get the juices flowing across the NHL. Speculation about where the Rangers’ high end rentals and non rentals alike might end up could be intense… feeding a seller’s market.

    I will actually look forward to watching games AFTER the sale. They’ll miss the playoffs but it will be fun watching for inklings of what’ll be coming next year and beyond. The only downer would be AV behind the bench and those old fashioned assistants he’s got with him now. They’ll probably be cleaned out in the O/S.

  6. Bloomer says:

    On a positive note…Ranger prospect Ty Ronning became the first Vancouver Giant to score 50 goals in a season. The kid is on fire.

    • Richter1994 says:

      Be careful my friend. That is a free wheeling junior league and Ty’s stats may be very exaggerated.

      Be cautiously optimistic.

      • Bloomer says:

        That’s true Richter yet the WHL had yielded talents such as Evander Kane and Jamie Benn to name a couple of players off the top of my head.

      • Stevem says:

        I’ll be cautiously optimistic with Ty.. His dad Cliff also played in the Western League and also put up numbers there.. if this kid is anything like his dad then I love him already. Always liked Cliff Ronning as a player. Hopefully Ty gets a shot up here in the near future to show what he has

      • Rich S says:

        Its not just the goal scoring, which is breaking WHL records…its his speed, right handed shot, and aggressiveness on the forecheck…..Appears to be a special player……we all hope…..
        But dont forget sean day who also appears to be a special player…..if he were ready, mcdonagh would be gone…..maybe we finally hit big on some of these guys……
        If he does what is expected we would have Grabner as a threat on one line, kreider on another and ronning on a third……would be fun to watch this team again……

    • King Sieveqvist ! King Sieveqvist ! says:

      Another positive … The classic getup looked pretty good indoors

  7. Richter1994 says:

    Yeah as said above, I was at that game too and I didn’t feel inspired by Zuc’s performance in that game. If anything, it reinforced why he should be traded.

    Now, Nash was a force, well. let me say in comparison to all the other Rangers, which isn’t saying much.

    They waved the white flag by not playing for their coach 2-3 years ago. If anyone would like to name me 10 games they played a full 60 minute, then I would like to hear it, because I can’t cont that many. Thank you Henrik.

    • Jerry says:

      I’ve never seen Nash take a night off. Never. Sure he is making too much $ at this stage of his career, but that’s not his fault. He is the best player on this team outside of Hank.
      Period.

    • Tony says:

      How quickly we all forget…

      The “King” and his band of back-stabbers wined to management when it was getting to tedious to block shots, and overachieve under Torts, Sully, etc. They got close, but it was concluded, they could not win because they did not score enough…

      Solution, bring in a soft-players Coach who had proven his man-on-man D, and run & gun O could not succeed when run by the Sedins, and backstopped by Luongo & Schneider. His claim to fame, a crushing loss in the Finals to a Bruins team that his “Nucks won one in OT (3-2), and two 1-0 (as we may recall Luongo was pretty, pretty good…).

      Remarkably, AV fails to comprehend that holding a team to 2 or less goals was (even in his system) is a hallmark of a playoff win.

      Oh, but how history repeats itself (not unlike watching the Kings get down 2-0 and somehow roar back as though it was the Finals again), so what were the scores of the Bruins 4 Finals wins after falling behind 2 games to 0 in the series? 8-1 (gm 3), 4-0 (gm 4), 5-2 (gm 6), 4-0 (gm 7). As always the playoffs are a race to 3…

      Even Luongo (for our purposes, Hank will play his part), couldn’t save AV. AV’s team has a propensity to implode (especially defensively), as witnessed often in NY. Even posting two, 1-0 shutouts in the Finals wasn’t enough from Luongo. He went on to send the Bruins to the brink in game 5, with his OT performance, outdueling Tim Thomas. AV’s boys went 3-6 in elimination games in 2011 including games 6 and 7.

      Then the downhill tumble began to take on momentum (I’d say we have reached this milestone in NY)…2 first round exits, losing 10 of their next 11 playoff games and being swept out of the first round in 4 games, AV was dismissed, and the hometown press said:

      “In the end, Vigneault could not coax more goals out of secondary offensive players that displayed plenty of heart but limited scoring skill. The Canucks ranked in the top five in goals scored the three previous full seasons, but finished just 19th in that category this season. They ranked in the bottom 10 on the power play and in face-off percentage, and were unable to hold several leads…”

      For those who care, here is link to a CBC article after AV was let go: http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/canucks-fire-coach-alain-vigneault-1.1326120

      Unfortunately, the dismantling of a roster in the failed AV years, hurt the team, who still suffers today from that endless retooling needed to attempt to tailor the team to the AV system…

      I sincerely hope the Rangers fire AV, and his staff before they make any personnel moves…

  8. avsucks says:

    I can live with guys trying and showing effort in a lose. that leaf game i saw one guy
    trying that was Nash, The rest looked like they were on meds.
    And the smug gum chewing coach just makes it worse.

  9. King Sieveqvist ! King Sieveqvist ! says:

    Here you go MC ,
    I like Nash as a player ,can be soft at times and maybe paid to much for his numbers in return.Would I like to see him back,guess at what cost would be the question.
    Love Zuc,plays with a ton of heart and bigger then he is.Playoffs come and that’s different game and no matter how much heart his size and he isn’t a factor as much as regular season.
    Staal has been finished since his brother hit him some few years back now.
    McD’s play isn’t as bad when you stop and think who he’s been paired with this year and last.
    Zib turns out isn’t a number 1, yet neither was Stepan( too slow to play the middle).This in turn kills us , period
    Shittenpants well we saved a ton of money on him,we didn’t need a “O” defenseman for ur beloved Hank. What we needed was a 2 way guy who could actually play D , kinda like a better Smith which he turned out to be a bust. Least he will mix it some and play with some Grit which this team has a huge lack of.
    Miller needs to stay on the wing
    Hayes needs to shoot the freakin puck and stop telegraphing all his passes
    DD is a waste of space,anyone can knock the guy off the puck

    In the end I know all these guys let up some shots against ur guy

  10. Walt says:

    Last night’s game can be summed up by saying it was a case of “Air Pollution”, cause it stunk up the place! There is no defense of these guys when they perform like they did……………………

    My post from the other day, and the dipshit thumbs down clowns went ballistic. Where are they now, I’m waiting for a repeat from them.

    There has been something missing for some time now, at least two, if not three seasons. It appears that the team comes out like robots, no heart, no desire, except for a few players, no direction from the bench, no grit, and passionless. Just wind them up, set them on the ice, let them do their collective best to impersonate the Ice Capades.

    There is an old saying that fish stinks from the head down, AV is that fish’s head, and for the life of me when the hell are they going to flush that fecal matter down a commode? Oh yes, he looks pretty chewing that gum doesn’t he, with that blank stare like what am I doing out here?

  11. Jerry says:

    When a team is booed in their own building, it’s for lack of effort. Not for losing a game.
    This team has been booed at MSG all to often. It should never happen, not even once, much less as often as it does.

    I remember when MSG was a HARD arena to play in. When the “Monster of the Garden” was so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think, much less the person talking next to you. Some of you old timers know exactly of what I speak.

    JG, MUST clean house behind the bench. Sure AV is by FAR the best dressed HC in the league, and he has his gum chewing down to a science. Hey I even saw him give some Ranger a dirty look after giving up a goal to the Leafs.

    All of you who think it’s some sort of heresy to mention trading Hank, must enjoy watching the crap we put out on the ice this year. Not Hank per se, he has been very good. But his salary does not support a team with about as much a chance as winning the SC as the power ball, maybe even a bit less.
    If Hank was on a team with a real chance of winning the ultimate prize, he’d be worth every cent and then some.

    I am fine with him saying he wants to stay. I think if we trade
    Nash
    Grabs
    Zucc
    McD
    and throw in (out) DD & Holden
    we will set ourselves up for a bright future then Alliare and Hank can bring along our Russian prospect in a way that best suits the kid.

    • Walt says:

      Jerry

      Oh how we remember that crowd, we in the old Blue Seats!!!!! You know now there are far too many “Blue Suits” in the crowd!!!!!!

      How right on the money your post is, sad but true………….

  12. Jerry says:

    You know Dave’s crazy predictions?
    Here’s mine. Miller flourishes on wing under a new Head Coach.

    • wwpd says:

      New coach talks him into not enjoying the nightlife as much during hockey season? (Irresponsible rumor mongering )

  13. HARLEMBLUES says:

    Excellent write up Chris. Groton must take this opportunity to sell and rebuild. One of the great things is Nash and Grabner are FA and McD will up for a big raise. The time is right to sell on these guys. Each will bring back a first and players or picks. Holden will also bring back at least a 2nd or 3rd.. Groton must be smart and patience and sell high. I’ve said over and over this team has to many nice guys. They take to much punishment while delivering little. We’re is this teams dynamo or punisher. More young highly skilled fast studs are needed.These young players are flying out there making moves at such high speed. McDavid is the future of the game. Meaning his skill level. Swag is here and the game is getting more of it and for the better. Yes I would sell on Henrik because of the big return he would bring. This team needs more high skilled players. It needs a STUD center because you don’t win without one. AV must go I’m tired of seeing Rangers players taking elbows to the jaw. The days of Danny G just standing there while guys are getting abused. He starts with the coach his style his players. To many FCKN nice guys. Can’t play a full 60 minutes seriously. No effort unacceptable. Groton let’s get this done.

    • Chas says:

      Hopefully Gorton is talking to other teams about the players being mentioned NOW. The entire team is starting to play at minor league level including our prize trading chip, McD. Trade them before their value goes down even more.

  14. HARLEMBLUES says:

    Since my post Staal and Vesey get crushed. No penalties called on either play. AV still chewing smooth so smooth

    • Richter1994 says:

      Good observation my friend. Sometimes, SOMETIMES, you throw the rule book out the window and raise some hell.

      If 2 of my players were knocked out of the game like that I would have sent the rest of my players on revenge shifts, if I were still in the game as a coach after screaming at the refs.