The Rangers are finally going to retire Jean Rattelle’s #19. It took them long enough, as Rattelle is largely regarded as one of the best Rangers to ever put on the sweater. He was also recently placed in the NHL’s Top 100 players. Rattelle will be the 9th player to have his jersey retired by the Rangers.
He currently ranks among the top-three in Rangers history in the major offensive categories: goals (second with 336), assists (third with 481), points (third with 817). The Rangers traded Ratelle, along with Brad Park and Joe Zanussi, to the Boston Bruins in 1975 for Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais. A trade that most Ranger fans cringe at when it is mentioned.
Hartford Wolf Pack 3, Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2
Allentown, PA, February 17, 2017 – Brandon Halverson made a Hartford Wolf Pack season-high 42 saves Friday night at the PPL Center, as the Wolf Pack defeated the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 3-2, despite being outshot 44-18.
The game was the first of a back-to-back set between the two teams in Allentown.
Philip McRae had the third-period game-winning goal for the Wolf Pack, and added an assist, and Marek Hrivik and Nicklas Jensen also had Wolf Pack goals. Mark Alt and Scott Laughton scored for the Phantoms in the third, in which Lehigh Valley outshot Hartford 25-5.
There’s not much going on today in the world that is the Rangers. Regurgitating the same content about the team is getting old. We know the forwards are good. We know the defense stinks. We know the goaltending is getting better. The trade deadline is coming, and with it comes the hopes (fears?) that the Rangers will make a move to address their weaknesses. But in the back of everyone’s mind is something coming up in June: The Expansion Draft.
There are some that think this year’s trade deadline will be quiet because of expansion. Multi-year deals are going to be tough sells, especially if teams can’t protect an additional player. Teams can only protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goalie (or 8 skaters and 1 goalie). Rookies/second year pros are exempt, but players with NMCs must be protected. But all AHL guys beyond their second year must be exposed. Teams can only lose one player to expansion.
The Rangers were hoping to extend their win streak to seven in Brooklyn, but allowed three straight to the Isles en route to the 4-2 loss. The Rangers and Isles traded chances all game, but it was the Isles who took advantage of bad Rangers defense for those three straight. Win streaks are meant to be snapped, but it stings letting the Isles do it.
Make no mistake, this was not a pretty game. Fun to watch, but not pretty. The Rangers were hemorrhaging chances to the Isles, as they couldn’t get past the tenacious forecheck. New coach Doug Weight had the Isles pressing hard, and forcing the defense to make passes, a horrible weakness for the Rangers. It worked, as it led directly to multiple chances, a goal, and sustained pressure. It was a good game plan.
On to the goals:
The Rangers are in Brooklyn tonight to take on an Isles team that got spanked by the Leafs the other night. They had won three of four prior, and given it’s the Rangers, I’m assuming the Isles will be coming out to avoid another spanking tonight. But the Rangers have a unique opportunity to extend their win streak to seven while also delivering a blow to the Isles’ playoff hopes.
Matt Puempel will return to the lineup, and Pavel Buchnevich will be a healthy scratch. With the trade deadline coming up, this could also be one of the last games you see the roster as currently constructed. But I just like feeding the trade rumor wolf. It’s fun. Should be a good Rangers crowd tonight in Brooklyn.
Much was made yesterday when news broke that Alain Vigneault would be scratching Pavel Buchnevich for a game, subbing in Matt Puempel. I’m actually glad I wasn’t around to peruse the Twitters yesterday, because I’m sure I would have lost my mind. I did see a few reactions, and I have to admit, it’s really not worth getting all worked up over this.
I understand that a lot of folks are sensitive to Vigneault’s lineup choices. The defense choices this year alone would make anyone cringe. I understand that last year scarred people for life, as Tanner Glass was routinely in the lineup over significantly more skilled forwards. I get it. But let’s also be clear that sitting a rookie for a game in the middle of a slump can be an educational tool.
The Rangers are in Columbus tonight with a chance to tie the Blue Jackets (and Penguins) in points. Doing so would put them in a virtual tie for second in the Metro, nine points behind Washington. However Columbus (and Pittsburgh) does have a game in hand on the Rangers, hence virtual tie. A win (and tying the season series at two a piece) goes a long way towards building confidence against a very good team.
The Rangers are getting Dan Girardi back, which means Adam Clendening sits. Sigh. Antti Raanta gets the start as well, with Henrik Lundqvist getting some rest after securing his 400th win. I think this is the first time the Rangers and Blue Jackets are facing each other with both teams fully healthy. Should be an interesting game.
Hershey Bears 4, Hartford Wolf Pack 2
Hershey, PA, February 11, 2017 – The Hartford Wolf Pack fell behind 2-0 to the Hershey Bears Saturday night at Giant Center and never quite recovered, losing 4-2.
Veterans Nicklas Jensen and Chris Summers scored for the Wolf Pack, who twice closed to within one goal. Travis Boyd and Christian Djoos had first-period tallies for Hershey, and Paul Carey scored the eventual winner in the second period. Riley Barber added an empty-net goal.
“I thought we got off to a slow start,” Summers said. “Starts have been something that we’ve been focusing on, and for whatever reason we just can’t seem to put that first ten minutes together. I think that’s a pretty important piece of the game, and you see we get down early and it’s climbing our way back the rest of the game.”
Last night, Henrik Lundqvist became the 12th goalie in NHL history to get to 400 wins. The Rangers got two goals from Kevin Klein and the game winner from Rick Nash to help Lundqvist reach the milestone. It’s been a little while since I’ve done a Twitter recap, so let’s see how everyone thought about the game.
If I ever had the luck of seeing Henrik Lundqvist walking the streets of NYC, I would stop what I was doing and grovel at his feet
— Kevin (@Kpower90) February 12, 2017
You are not the only one.
The story of tonight’s game isn’t going to be the potential for five wins in a row. It’s not going to be about keeping pace in a Metro Division that has four of the top five teams (in terms of points in the standings) in the NHL. It’s going to be about Henrik Lundqvist, who sits at 399 career wins, and is facing a Colorado Avalanche team that is worst in the NHL. The stage is set for career win #400.
Of course, that means this could be a trap game for the Rangers. Winning four in a row, now facing the league’s worst team at home. We’ve seen this before. But perhaps the chance to get Hank to 400 and the need to keep pace with the other three teams in their division will keep them from falling into the trap. What we do know, is we are watching a generational talent in Lundqvist, who is finally starting to find his game. And perhaps, just at the right time.