With All-Star weekend upon us, it’s about that time again to evaluate who’s hot, who’s not, and exactly what has been going on while we’ve been in our Blueshirt bubble. It’s been a season filled with surprisingly good teams, surprising struggles and a strange new tradition up north of throwing jerseys onto the ice.
New York Islanders – as a Rangers blog, I’m sorry to open on this note, but credit is well due for the Isles so far this season. Given a healthy, talented young core and a steady netminder, the Islanders are sitting pretty atop the Eastern Conference, making work of the Penguins this past weekend and making it look easy. John Tavares is living up to his studly name, contributing with 45 points (21G, 24A) and a 14% shooting percentage. 8 other Islanders, including two defensemen, have 20+ points so far on the season. With contributions coming from every line, if the defense gels up a bit more, they’re a serious playoff threat. Would be an interesting way to leave Long Island, for sure…
The All-Star selections came out yesterday, making it a huge topic of conversation since it’s been three years since the last All-Star game. Some basic facts to know about the game are that it’ll take place in Columbus this year, it takes place on Sunday, January 25 (two weeks!), and that each team has to have at least one representative there.
If you’re unfamiliar with the selection process, the first six players are selected by fan vote and the remainder is selected by a committee. Keeping in mind that each team needs a representative will help you with this list of “all stars,” but it still doesn’t sit well with me.
The New York Rangers are back home tonight, taking on the Carolina Hurricanes in the second game of their home-and-home. The Rangers eked out a shootout win last night in Raleigh, extending their winning streak to five games. Before their 4-1 win over Toronto the other day, Carolina had lost six in a row. They are a bottom-feeder in the Metro Division, and this is a home-and-home the Rangers need to take advantage of, turning those games in hand into points in the standings.
After last night’s win, the Rangers will be facing Carolina’s backup goalie, Anton Khudobin. Khudobin is pretty awful this year, with no wins in 9 starts and a 0.892 save percentage. The Rangers must take advantage of this and make the end of December their very own.
The Canes play a passive 1-2-2 on the forecheck and look to trap up the neutral zone. In their own end they run your standard low zone collapse. Not the most exciting of systems. On special teams, they run an umbrella powerplay, and a diamond/box hybrid PK.
If you live anywhere near New York City, you know the holidays are in full swing. Traffic is at an all time high, the sidewalks are especially difficult to navigate and Rangers tickets are astronomically high for teams that aren’t very good. Also, there are pretty awesome displays, lights and huge trees everywhere. It’s a lovely time to be around the city.
It’s also a lovely time to reminisce about whether we’ve been naughty or nice and, if we’ve been very good, what we should ask for. Let’s be honest – who doesn’t love gifts? Last year, the staff at BSB asked Santa Sather for some moves and, well, basically none of us got anything (except a commenter asked for Lee Stempniak- bold move). Maybe we were all very bad. This year, instead of having a BSB-wide wish list, you’re all stuck with mine.
I was watching some hockey game last week – Lord knows it wasn’t the Rangers, since they had basically all week off – when the standings flashed on my screen and I nearly choked on my hot chocolate. The FLORIDA PANTHERS have more points than the Rangers!? Surely I must’ve been drunk, but no, I wasn’t. I wondered what the heck was going on around the league.
We’re more than a third of the way through the season, so although nothing is set in stone, most of the trends we see are, well, more than just trends. There were some predictions I made early in the season which are horribly wrong (I thought the Oilers would break out. I understand if you don’t want to read this post anymore), and some that were right. Instead of analyzing these, I’m breaking down what you need to know in my (second) favorite form: bulletpoint.
The Rangers played the Thanksgiving Classic on a national broadcast yesterday as the first of their back-to-back afternoon home and home games against the Flyers. The national broadcast was on NBC, so we got the opportunity to listen to some fine pre- and postgame analysis from the Milbury-Jones outstanding duo. How lucky.
From 1pm unti the puck dropped around 1:20, the analysis focused on Henrik Lundqvist’s “not king-like” season, which apparently is why Cam Talbot started yesterday. I guess it has nothing to do with back-to-back games, but I’m not sure. Some things to actually note about this game are that Tanner Glass was out with the flu and Ryan McDonagh is back from his injury.
On to some points..
With the Rangers playing so many games in such a little amount of time, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole league out there that’s been happening without us. Luckily, you don’t need Center Ice or NHL.com when you’ve got a Sunday BSB update. A lot of really amusing things have been happening lately, so let’s go through them.
The Maple Leafs (temporarily) turn into the Oilers
On Tuesday, the Maple Leafs lost to the Predators 9-2. As in, if you were watching TV and just saw the score, you’d think Toronto just got an NFL squad and lost in a strange, safety-filled game. Though the Leafs are prone to these blowouts at least once per season (hello Rangers last season), this loss came after a lifeless loss to the Sabres. The Leafs didn’t even look like they were trying against Nashville and, surprise, fans were pissed. This came in a week where Phil Kessel blew up at the media and the Leafs, after finally winning, didn’t salute their fans in an effort to “try something new.” The Leafs truly are the gift that keep on giving. Read More→
Tonight is just another game in the Rangers action-packed, though sometimes exhausting November, right? Sure, they’re up against the best offensive team in hockey, a team tied for second in points in the entire National Hockey League, so it’ll be a tough one, but otherwise, nothing crazy happening tonight at the Garden.
The talent here at BSB later today will post about what kind of special teams they throw and exactly who to watch for (spoiler alert: it’s still Steven Stamkos.. and Tyler Johnson, who you’ve probably never heard of), but this morning we need to focus on what MSG has been pushing for weeks, the big elephant in the room. Tonight marks the return of former captain Ryan Callahan, along with Anton Stralman and Brian Boyle, and much like ripping off a bandaid, I think we’ll all feel better once it’s done.
Going in to last night, there was good news and bad news. The bad news: the Rangers returned late last night with barely any time to rest up and prepare for their 6pm start. The good news: the 6pm start was against the Edmonton Oilers, known for not playing up to their talent level. Nothing like a quick victory to forget about a pretty awful game Saturday, right?
Well, it would have been right, except that the Rangers played at least 50 minutes of brutally bad hockey last night. Like, embarrassingly bad hockey. Even Ulf Samuelsson had a whole lot to say about it. I’m no Ulfie, but I did have some feels (mostly of the crabby variety) about this game, and, per usual, I threw them into rambling bullet form. Read More→
The Rangers hosted the Red Wings on a slow night in hockey in what was a pretty riveting Original Six matchup. I’m still wrapping my head around what the term “rivalry” means to NBCSN, but so far I mostly think it means “the game that’ll generate the most viewership.” I also think it means an 8pm start, which means this post won’t be a goal breakdown – sorry Dave.
All jokes aside, this game was pretty phenomenal. There was a lot of energy, lots of momentum changes, some really beautiful goal scoring, and, of course, a minor heart attack when Detroit tied it with 7.7 to go. Horrible officiating was a major theme of this game, but we all know that you can’t blame the refs for a loss; you just have to work harder to win.
My thoughts, in bulletpoint form..