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Report card: Bottom six forwards

Third line on your program, first line in your hearts

Third line on your program, first line in your hearts

Next up on our final year report cards come the bottom six (or seven, in this case) forwards. Before we start individually, it should be noted that the bottom six were shockingly good this season, with the third line being arguably the most consistent and productive line towards the end of the season. The chemistry shown on both the third and fourth lines (though moreso with the third) carried the Rangers through the Pittsburgh series in the playoffs and will make for a headache for Glen Sather to keep together during the offseason. On to the grades..

Mats Zuccarello: A. Zucc was the Rangers MVP for this past season. He showed tremendous strength and a major return on his 1 year/$1.15 million contract signed prior to this season. Leading the team with a line of 19-40-59 during the regular season, Zucc kept it turned on during the playoffs with that aforementioned chemistry, with a respectable 13 points in the 25 games played. Perhaps the most promising sign is that Zuccarello is listed at 5’7, yet plays as big (and often bigger) than the 6’4 Rick Nash. Re-signing Zucc must be an absolute priority for management this summer.

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Post loss musings

The face of an OT winner

The face of an OT winner

Let’s face it, last night’s loss felt like a kick to the stomach. I don’t think any of us were able to wake up without feeling sad, disgruntled, nauseous, confused, personally victimized, etc… I personally can’t formulate a logical post, so instead, some post-game thoughts.

–          The Rangers dominated last night. This is infuriating right now, but I’ll take great play and a tough loss over getting run over for two games.

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We’re playing for the Cup, and we’ve got predictions

The King vs. the Kings

The King vs. the Kings

Here we are, on the eve of the Stanley Cup Final. I’ll save the storylines for everyone else and say this one thing: if you asked me if we would be here only 3 weeks ago, I’d ask you what you were smoking. On to the Final predictions…

Dave’s Pick: Rangers in 7. The Rangers will win if and only if they can exploit the edges they have in goaltending, defense, and depth. The Rangers roll 18 skaters regularly, with their 4th line getting 10-12 minutes. The Kings’ 4th line gets half that, so they rely on their top-nine forwards. The Rangers have a more rounded defense as well, rolling three pairs boasting three top-pairing defensemen in McDonagh, Staal, and Girardi. It’s going to be a dogfight, and it definitely won’t be the massacre that the media is saying. When the teams are this closely aligned (although the Kings dominate puck possession better than the Rangers), you have to give the edge to the better goalie. Hank will be the difference maker.

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Let’s take a moment to ignore the Habs

He's faking it, right? (Photo: Getty)

He’s faking it, right? (Photo: Getty)

If you have been around and paying any sort of attention to hockey lately, then you’ve heard the varying scandals that the New York Rangers have apparently been instigating. Two offensive scandals have surfaced over the past day alone. First along came Derek Stepan’s not-really-broken jaw. Secondly, a “gentleman’s agreement” gone wrong with Ulf Sameulsson attending the Montreal Canadiens’ morning practice. If you’re a Canadiens fan, you must be asking yourself – when will the madness end?

Actually, if you’re a fan of the sport at all, you’re probably asking when this madness will end. Without paying attention to the cheap shot heard round the world (except for Montreal, apparently), the whining that has been happening so awfully frequently lately is exhausting. Let’s entertain the most recent issues that have the Canadiens locker room all up in arms.

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Confessions of a Former AV Hater

Smiles for Miles. (Photo: Jason Payne , PNG)

Smiles for Miles. (Photo: Jason Payne, PNG)

Picture it: it’s a beautiful late spring day in New York City, sundress weather, lunchtime in Midtown with tons of people relaxing in the middle of another work day. All of a sudden, you get a text. Then another. And another, followed by NHL alerts. Your coach has just been fired after a slaughter of an exit from the Eastern Conference Semi’s in five games.

If you’re a diehard Rangers fan, you respond in one of two ways: joyous applause or incredulous anger and questioning. If you’re this girl, it’s the second. Of all the things that came out of my mouth while walking to grab lunch that day, some examples are: How could they do this? Why is Sather’s job safe but no coach can get a break? Who the [expletive] will replace him? They’re gonna hire some scrub and the Rangers’ talent is gonna go to waste. I adored John’s passion and fire, and I thought his gritty style of coaching was #therightway. Maybe because my greatest coaches have been like that, maybe cause hockey just seems so hard.

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BSB Conference Finals Predictions

Glory

Glory

Admin note: No goal breakdown from last night’s game. Sorry about that.

We’re more than halfway through the playoffs and the Rangers are still not only breathing, but breathing a bit easier today after a slaughter yesterday. As always, below are our super knowledgeable predictions, and I think most of us were shaking our way through the ECF guesses. Share yours with us in the comments.

ECF: New York vs. Montreal

Kevin’s Pick: Rangers in 7. Well, we know it’s going 7 either way. Carey Price is probably the one guy on the planet that’s Henrik Lundqvist’s equal right now, so I’m terrified of him. But I think the tragedy with Martin St. Louis was a real rallying point for this team and that momentum is going to carry the Blueshirts.

Becky’s Pick: Rangers in 6. I know, no seventh game? But they’re bonded as a team and it’s incredible. It seems as though they can read each other’s minds out there, and that paired with Hank being hotter than the sun right now makes for a trip to the Cup Finals and a spike in blood pressure medication in the tri-state area.

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What the Rangers could learn from the Minnesota Wild

This game is humaaangous big

This game is humaaangous big

The first round of eliminations typically brings some surprises and, regardless of your team making the playoffs, a few disappointments. Fans who watched the Minnesota Wild edge out the Colorado Avalanche certainly found a new bandwagon to hop on. With the Rangers still in it, fans in the metro area may not have taken notice, but there is good reason why some glory coming to the state of hockey should be celebrated.

The Wild, well.. some have speculated (ahem, Kevin and myself) they would be swept straight out of the second round. And who knows, maybe they do go down in five games, but until then the bandwagon seems to be going strong. It’s hard to deny that watching Spurgeon in round 1 tie the game with 2:27 to go to take Game 7 into OT (heart palpitations, anyone?) and then having former Islander Nino Niederreiter win the series 5 minutes later wasn’t exciting. I was jumping around and I have zero feelings for either squad. So why should anyone be on this bandwagon aside from their obvious perseverance?

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BSB’s Round 2 Picks

Getting Closer...

Getting Closer…

Another day, another playoff round is upon us. The Canadiens opened up Round 2 last night with a double overtime win, giving starved fans all the hockey we can take. Below are our expert picks for the upcoming round, with Suit filling in for Chris this time.

Montreal – Boston

Justin’s Pick: Habs in 7. Obviously the Bruins are a juggernaut, but I think the Canadiens are a really bad matchup for them.  Carey Price can cancel out Tuukka Rask, and the mobility both up front and on the blue line could give the bigger, slower Bruins fits.  Factor in a rejuvenated Rene Bourque and I could see the pesky little Canadiens outlasting their bitter rivals

Suit’s Pick: Montreal in 7. Grit vs. Speed always makes for an interesting matchup and normally I’d go with grit, but in this case I think MTL will finally get past these guys. They’ve been really good on the road and that can be devastating since the Bell Centre is an extremely tough place to play. I also think Price is going to finally steal one.

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An Open Letter to the Chicago Blackhawks and the Wakey Wakey shirts

Dear Hawks,

Usually, I like you. Despite growing up loving Detroit (thanks to my brother), I always thought there was something about you that was a bit charming. Maybe it’s the awesome jersey, or the great crowds you always seem to draw, or maybe it’s Patrick Sharp’s face. I can’t be sure. I certainly appreciated you last year when you took out the team that steamrolled the New York area straight into baseball season. But this postseason…. not so much.

I guess it started off bad for you. I’d begun to like the Blues cause who can’t when there’s so much American Olympic representation, including the shootout king Oshie and a kid who grew up a Rangers fan in Shattenkirk. But still, there was a respect I felt for you and an excitement I felt in what would be a gritty, tough, skilled matchup. I would love to see some nice, clean hockey played between rivals.

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Playoff Predictions: Round One

2014 contenders for Lord Stanley

2014 contenders for Lord Stanley

Here at BSB, we’re always using “expertise” and “knowledge” and “total guesses” to bring you news and our views on goings on around the Rangers organization and all around the NHL. A few of us have broken down our individual predictions for each of the Round 1 playoff series. We’ll be doing this as each round advances. Enjoy.

Detroit vs Boston

Kevin’s Pick: Bruins in 7. I love the way the Red Wings are playing right now and probably would have taken them over any other team in the Eastern Conference, but this is a nightmare matchup for Detroit.

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