Sunday stuff that’s bugging me about Rangers


It’s a yucky day outside. On a football Sunday, the Rangers play host to the Bruins tonight. While an Original Six match up between classic rivals is always nice for the fans to take in, there are some things that are bugging me.

Let’s start with the throwback game between Bruins and Rangers Alumni. If you don’t have a ticket for the special event which is probably concluding at The Garden, you’re out of luck. Unless you cover the team via media credential, you can’t experience some of the familiar faces that made this one of the most unique rivalries.

Yes, that’s former Bruins center Bob Sweeney beating ex-Ranger backup goalie turned MSG analyst Steve Valiquette. At last check, it was 3-0 Boston. Would you like to know what they were airing over this cool game? The woeful Knicks home opener that saw the Celtics humiliate them the final quarter. Plus the best of MSG 150… Anything to save money in production costs for Dolan. The same crook who rips off fans of the Rangers and Knicks.

I’m sure they’ll show highlights the next time they air a Rangers game. I’m not sure if it’s tonight due to NHL Network having the game. My guess is it’s still gonna be on MSG except for blackout restrictions. Whatever. We won’t be home. We’re going.

This will be my first and last game of the season. At least it’s a good opponent, who plays hockey well. There’s no better line than Patrice Bergeron centering Brad Marchand and the sizzling David Pastrnak, who enters with a league-leading 11 goals.

What else has me annoyed? David Quinn. Following a 6-2 win over the Sabres where his team dominated, he has again decided to go Combos with his lines. Yes. I’m not kidding. Kaapo Kakko is expected to be off the top line already. Jesper Fast replaces him.

Why? This is a joke. Put the prize second pick in the best position to succeed. That’s what the Devils have finally decided to do by having number one overall pick Jack Hughes center Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri. Hughes posted a goal and two assists for his first career three point game in a 5-3 loss to the Coyotes.

With Vitali Kravtsov deleting all his photos of being a Ranger on Instagram after deciding to bolt boring Hartford to go back home and play for Chelyabinsk Traktor of the KHL, it’s just not a good look. Sure. He was only drafted first round in 2018. And yes. He didn’t disrespect the organization despite loose interpretations of a interview he gave to Eurosport. That includes Brendan Smith, who he indicated played better than him in camp. That’s true.

Kravtsov is only 19 and doesn’t turn 20 until two days before Christmas. He also had the opt clause to go back home if he wanted to. Considering that there wasn’t a spot for him in New York and he wasn’t getting ideal ice time with the Wolf Pack, it makes sense for him to go play for a pro team he’s more familiar with. The Rangers have the option to recall him. However, it’s likely Kravtsov will stay in the KHL until the conclusion of the season in late February. He should be back.

I’m sick of people bashing Smith. It’s not his fault the Rangers aren’t good at development. All he’s done is give an honest effort in the first eight games while doubling as a top penalty killing defenseman. It’s just sad that former 2017 first round pick Lias Andersson finds himself on the fourth line playing with Smith, Greg McKegg, or Micheal Haley. Why is Haley here for? They couldn’t just give that spot to Boo Nieves.

If the Smith bashing is bad, then the cries for Marc Staal to retire are ridiculous. While it’s true his possession numbers are atrocious, he’s far from alone. If these other bloggers want to preach their charts so badly, why don’t they have a closer look at the zone starts. That tells a lot of the story. Even Jacob Trouba is at 43.0 Corsica. He must suck. Right? What’s even funnier is frequent target Neal Pionk has recovered nicely with Winnipeg.

The truth here has to do with personnel. Pionk still lots a ton for the Jets minus Dustin Byfuglien. The Winnipeg forwards are way better than the Rangers. Even with the addition of Artemiy Panarin and Kakko, who’s still adjusting, the Blueshirts pale in comparison to the Jets, who feature Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor and Nik Ehlers. You should’ve seen the pass Connor made for Bryan Little’s overtime winner to beat Calgary in the Heritage Classic at snowy Saskatoon.

Tony DeAngelo has been on a nice roll since his benching. He’s up to four goals thanks to three over the last two games. After playing with Brady Skjei, who had a better game on Thursday with two assists, DeAngelo is back with Staal on the top pair. There’s no way Staal should be deployed that way at this stage of his career. This is due to Quinn continuing to have Trouba work with rookie Libor Hajek. Skjei will pair up with Adam Fox, who continues to improve game to game. He picked up his first NHL point on Chris Kreider’s first of the season.

So, here are your expected NYR lines at least to start:

Kreider-Zibanejad-Fast

Panarin-Strome-Buchnevich

Lemieux-Howden-Kakko

McKegg-Andersson-Smith

Let’s stop right here. If he’s not gonna rock the vote and use Kakko with Zibanejad, then why the heck isn’t he with Panarin? This is baffling. Howden, Lemieux and Fast had solid chemistry as the third line. Now, he breaks them up at the expense of Kakko, who has to be confused. We’re only nine games in. Quinn has tried every combination except for the one everyone is dying to see.

Panarin-Zibanejad-Kakko

What will it take for the second-year coach to stop babying Kakko? He’s limiting him at the expense of veterans that have no bearing on the team’s future. Talk about a fail.

It’ll be Henrik Lundqvist again in net. He faces Boston backup Jaro Halak due it being the Bruins second game of a back-to-back. Tuukka Rask pitched a shutout yesterday in a Boston win. He’s the active goalie leader in GAA and save percentage. The only thing missing is a Stanley Cup. He came up short for the second time as a starter losing to the Blues last June.

Hopefully later, DQ won’t piss me off any further.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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