The truth about DeAngelo/Georgiev altercation, Quinn on the clock, Bitetto could debut tonight if game is played


There have been so many stories regarding the Tony DeAngelo and Alex Georgiev dust up that occurred following the Rangers’ 5-4 overtime loss to the Penguins on Saturday night. Many of the allegations have been proven false.

Unless it comes from a trusted source such as a beat writer or established reporter, there shouldn’t be any belief in what’s been rumored. A Rangers blog put out a false story that was refuted by K’Andre Miller and his agent regarding his first NHL goal. Contrary to that erroneous report, he did receive the puck after DeAngelo grabbed it and handed it to the training staff. Kudos to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski for doing some digging.

The less said about this ridiculous story, the better. That blog is lucky they won’t be sued for libel. Pushing such false propaganda for clicks to kick a player while they’re down is embarrassing. There’s nothing else to add.

Another rumor was that Chris Kreider punched DeAngelo after he made a wise crack to Georgiev in the Rangers locker room. It doesn’t sound like that happened. According to Elliotte Friedman, it was Georgiev who decked DeAngelo for whatever foolish comment he made. Good. There’s no place for such nonsense.

Interestingly, as reported by Larry Brooks of the New York Post this morning, it was Miller himself who broke up the altercation in the locker room. It speaks a lot to his character and maturity.

Don’t forget it was DeAngelo who was one of the first Rangers that backed Miller up following the disturbing Zoom Conference interview last summer. Whatever off ice issues he has, the rumored mistreatment of Miller is a total fabrication.

The truth is something that is of utmost importance. That’s why you only trust those who are much closer to the situation. You want the story to be accurate. It’s sad that there are fan blogs who will go out of their way to fabricate stories due to a bias against a player they don’t like. It’s wrong.

As far as what happens today, either a team puts in a claim for DeAngelo before noon or he’s still technically a Ranger. They can then try to trade him and pick up part of the contract that pays an average of $4.8 million on the salary cap through 2022. I doubt there will be any takers given the 25-year old’s baggage.

The only thing I disagreed with was coach David Quinn’s treatment of DeAngelo following the first game. A humiliating 4-0 loss to the Islanders where they hardly showed a pulse. DeAngelo showed frustration after taking a penalty by slamming the penalty box and receiving an extra minor for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Quinn was pretty quick to make an example of a player who ranked fourth among all NHL defensemen in scoring with 53 points (15-38-53) last season. The decision to healthy scratch him didn’t make sense. It was an overreaction by a third-year coach with an axe to grind. That didn’t go over well.

With DeAngelo done and likely to be sent home because it’s the only thing that makes sense for the Rangers organization to move forward, it’s put up or shut up time for Quinn. He talks a big game in these press conferences. But why is this team never consistent? Why do they commit glaring mistakes and take bad penalties that put them in trouble? Why do they sometimes come out flat or blow leads?

It’s time for the excuses to end. If they do play the rematch later on a blizzard day in NYC, it’ll be Anthony Bitetto getting his first game as a Ranger paired up with Brendan Smith. We’ll see how the former Predator, Wild and Jets defenseman fares. The 30-year old is from Island Park, NY and grew up a fan of the Rangers. A defensive defenseman who’s posted 27 points in 183 NHL games, this is his fourth team. Good luck to him.

Julien Gauthier returns to the lineup in place of injured forward Colin Blackwell (LBI). He’ll join Brett Howden on the third line. I’d imagine Quinn will keep top pick Alexis Lafreniere on the first line with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich while having Kreider stay on the third line.

I’m most interested to see Kaapo Kakko on line two with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome. This is his chance to prove he belongs in the top six. We’ll see how he does. The fourth line consists of Brendan Lemieux, Kevin Rooney and Phil Di Giuseppe.

The top power play unit features Panarin, Zibanejad, Buchnevich, Fox and Kreider, who moves back onto it. Personally, I prefer him there because he brings the size and strength needed to distract goalies. Does Buchnevich play the point with Fox or possibly Zibanejad?

Lemieux could see power play time on the second unit. We know it includes Strome, Kakko, Lafreniere and lately Jacob Trouba. I’d like to see Miller get a look on power play two.

If the game is played, Igor Shestyorkin gets the start. He should’ve been in for Saturday following his first win last Thursday. It doesn’t make sense what Quinn is doing with the goalies. That needs to change.

That’s gonna do it for now. If you are traveling outside, be very careful and use extreme caution.

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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