Confirmed: Devils fire Hynes

AP Photo by via Getty Images

It’s officially over for John Hynes in New Jersey. Following an explosive tweet sent from’s Chris Ryan that the embattled Devils coach could actually be behind the bench for tonight’s home game against the Golden Knights before the coaching change took place, the Devils official Twitter had no choice but to make the official announcement.

Assistant Alain Nasreddine will take over as interim coach and pro scout Peter Horachek joins the team as a new assistant. Credit reporter Dan Rosen for that. Here was the original Ryan tweet that included a link to the story he broke because when it comes to today’s media, everyone wants to be first.

Once that was sent on Twitter, it created chaos and confusion. How could the organization allow Hynes to coach one more game before making the expected change? Everyone knew it was coming on the heels of a 7-1 humiliation at Buffalo after the 4-0 home embarrassment to the Rangers over the weekend. Something had to give.

As follower and passionate Devils fan Andrew Timoni put it in a good response to a tweet discussion regarding Hynes, it made no sense.

He recently visited Montreal again to see the Devils post their last victory under Hynes on Thanksgiving. Then braved the elements on a long drive home that included heavy snow upstate.

So, it’s finally over for Hynes. Hired by close friend and current Devils GM Ray Shero in 2015, he posted a record of 150-159-45. His best season coming in ’17-18 when he guided the Devils back to the playoffs with a 44-29-9 record and 97 points to edge out the Panthers for their first postseason appearance since 2012 when the franchise reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Hart winner Taylor Hall carried the team to become the first ever New Jersey Devil to win MVP. Keith Kinkaid had a great run as the number one goalie to get them in. Ironically, he was just placed on waivers by Montreal on the same day his former coach lost his job.

This year was supposed to be different. With the key additions of top pick Jack Hughes, acquisition of PK Subban and signings of Wayne Simmonds and Nikita Gusev, the Devils were expected to compete for the playoffs. Instead, they’ve suffered from inconsistency, lack of production and poor defense that’s caused them to be 9-13-4 with 22 points. That put them last in the Metro Division and 30th out of 31 teams with only miserable Detroit worse.

This is a change that had to happen. How will the team respond? They have a game at 7 PM against Vegas, who had no problem with the Rangers yesterday. The Devils then are off until Friday when the Blackhawks visit Newark. Following that home game, they embark on a four game road trip with stops at Nashville 12/7, Dallas 12/10, Colorado 12/13 and Arizona 12/14.

We’ll see if the coaching change lights a fire under underperforming players like Hall, Subban, Simmonds, Kyle Palmieri and Nico Hischier.

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Game 26: The gang that can’t shoot straight

Reilly Smith flips a backhand past Henrik Lundqvist to convert a breakaway goal in a Golden Knights 4-1 win that cooled off the Rangers on Monday night. AP Photo by Vegas Golden Knights via Getty Images

Forget that five-game point streak. That’s over with. Forget the easy beatdown of a woeful Devils that got humiliated even worse at Buffalo. Will that be the end for John Hynes? I’ll leave that to Hasan.

Truthfully, I touched on it the other day. The Rangers got away with a C game at best by being sloppy and undisciplined due to the opponent. Had they faced better competition, it could’ve been ugly. But Alexandar Georgiev made the saves and the penalty kill scored two shorthanded goals.

Tonight, the competition picked up. The Rangers were unprepared for what the Golden Knights brought. They dominated the first half and humiliated the Blueshirts by scoring the game’s first four goals en route to a 4-1 win at Madison Square Garden.

What made it worse is David Quinn’s decision to go back to Henrik Lundqvist backfired. Instead of sticking with the hot hand in Georgiev, who made 33 saves for the shutout on Saturday, the second-year coach catered to Lundqvist. He had no one to blame for a hideous first goal that he put in himself at 1:34 when he mishandled an Alex Tuch shot and had both Tony DeAngelo and Libor Hajek make good defensive plays. It didn’t matter because he put the loose puck in himself. Replay confirmed the ugly start.

Sometimes, when this team gets off to bad starts, they implode. Well, it didn’t take long for that to happen. Following Lundqvist’s gaffe, Brady Skjei allowed a attacking Vegas player to get behind him. He took a holding the stick minor penalty 18 seconds following the first goal. This time, the penalty kill that was so good versus New Jersey allowed an easy transition that saw Tuch put away a Nate Schmidt feed at the doorstep for a two goal Vegas lead at 3:50.

It didn’t get any better. The Rangers continued to be sloppy due to a combination of poor puck management leading to turnovers and lax coverage. The Golden Knights fired shots from every angle, peppered Lundqvist for 17 shots. He did keep it at two.

Eventually, a couple of Vegas penalties gave the Blueshirts a chance to get back in it. That included a hard working shift by Brendan Lemieux, who got hooked down by Nicholas Roy. To no avail. The power play fired blanks throughout taking the collar in five chances. It’s not like they didn’t create shots. However, Malcolm Subban was sharp. Starting in place of the grieving Marc-Andre Fleury, who lost his father, this was the best game I’ve seen him play. He took away everything down low and had good rebound control. He finished with 29 saves to earn the game’s number two star.

It’s pretty sad that a guy who still hasn’t proven to be a steady backup in the league outplayed Lundqvist. But that’s exactly what happened. There are no excuses. Even if you’re the biggest Henrik apologist and understand that Vegas is good, this should have been a win. The team played poorly for too long before they finally awakened down four.

In the second period, the fourth line turned over the puck due to a horrible back pass. It was Brett Howden who tried one of those risky passes to the point that Jacob Trouba couldn’t handle. It trapped both him and Skjei to cause a clean breakaway for Brendan Smith’s brother Reilly Smith. He made no mistake by patiently going to a forehand deke and then roofing a backhand top shelf past Lundqvist, who could only lay down after being unable to come up with the save. Had he, maybe it could’ve swung the momentum. It was a excellent move and finish by Smith for a 3-0 lead at 4:44.

It got even worse when Kaapo Kakko hi-sticked Brayden McNabb. Unlike the Ranger power play which fired blanks all night to frustrate fans who went and those like myself who watched on TV, the Golden Knights made it 2-for-2 on a well executed Cody Glass pass for a Max Pacioretty finish on an open side at 6:20. Mark Stone was instrumental in setting the play up. He’s just a good hockey player. He doesn’t possess the skill of Artemiy Panarin, but is very smart.

Trailing by four, the Rangers really began to dictate the terms. They did some good things on the forecheck and generated opportunities. The problem was Subban wasn’t cooperating. He was making key stops and his defense did a sound job in front of him. They got their sticks on loose pucks and were stronger defensively. For a good portion, the guys in blue weren’t creating enough traffic in front. Something Joe Micheletti alluded to. When a goalie is going well, you got to make it more difficult.

The one instance where they did, it resulted in their lone goal on Subban. On a real good sustained forecheck from the make shift trio of Lemieux, Jesper Fast and Mika Zibanejad, they outworked the Knights along the boards. Eventually, Zibanejad came out with it and passed for Trouba, who wisely shot passed for an open Lemieux in front for a great redirection for his fourth goal with 4:45 left to give them hope. Lemieux was their most effective player.

Had they been able to get another goal before the second ended, we could’ve had a different game to recap. Maybe even a comeback like at Montreal. But the Rangers missed on some close calls including Strome passing for Panarin, who couldn’t quite put it away. It was that kind of night.

Vegas tried their darnest to get the Rangers back in the game. They had consecutive power plays on minors from Theodore and Pacioretty. While the man-advantage got a number of good looks, they were unable to convert. It was exasperating. You had Adam Fox miss wide later in the period which left him shaking his head in disbelief. That summed it up.

Zibanejad missed a wide open one in the waning seconds fron the same spot he scored on a Fox pass the other day. There were so many blanks fired that it looked like the gang that can’t shoot straight. They did fire 11 shots through, but Subban was up to the challenge to win his third consecutive decision. You can now make an argument that he’s been the better Subban. Scary thought, eh?

There also was a bit of comedy near the conclusion when McNabb knocked Zibanejad’s stick out while the Rangers had a power play. Strome decided to catch it and toss the stick to Zibanejad. An illegal play which resulted in a throwing the stick minor. At that point, I laughed. Not only was it amusing, but I couldn’t believe Quinn argued the call. He already was out of his mind doing one of those mercy Patrick Roy goalie pulls while trailing by three. I can’t stand that. It’s ridiculous.

Here’s a question for readers to ponder. Would Georgiev have made a difference? I’m not going to make any big conclusion here. I just wonder if perhaps Quinn outsmarted himself by not riding the hot hand. I’m not going to fault Lundqvist for the last three goals. Those were good plays. However, if he could’ve prevented Smith from scoring on the breakaway, that could’ve changed the momentum. Sometimes, you need your goalie to make a big save to spark the club. He didn’t get it done.

The Rangers overall were far too sloppy. Pavel Buchnevich had one of his befuddling games where he holds onto the puck too long and loses it due to being too predictable. He wound up with four giveaways and only 1:28 power play time while logging 14:14. This is why I find him so frustrating. He isn’t this superstar other blogs pretend he is. Until he finds consistency, I view him as talented but a tease.

The next game is Thursday at Columbus. So, who gets it. Oh, that’s right. It’s expected to be Georgiev. Then they’ll go to Lundqvist for the Canadiens on Friday. We’ll see how they respond.

Battle Of 3 🌟

3rd 🌟 Brendan Lemieux, Rangers (4th of season, penalty drawn, 6 hits in 14:19 including 2:13 power play)

2nd 🌟 Malcolm Subban, Golden Knights (29 saves, 9 for 9 saves shorthanded)

1st 🌟 Alex Tuch, Golden Knights (2 goals for 3rd, 4th, 5 shots in 12:54)

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A cool moment from Saturday by Lemieux and Blackwood for former Barrie Colts coach Dale Hawerchuk

I forgot to put this up due to being busy. However, I thought this was a very cool moment that happened prior to the latest installment of the Hudson Rivalry on Saturday.

As you know, November was Hockey Fights Cancer month. Well, not that long ago, both Brendan Lemieux and Mackenzie Blackwood were teammates who played for the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. They were coached by Hockey Hall Of Famer Dale Hawerchuk. He’s currently battling cancer.

In a nice gesture, Lemieux and Blackwood took this photo together below prior to the game:

AP Photo by New York Rangers via MSG Network

I thought it was great. They get it. There’s so much more going on than a hockey game between rivals. You have to know Lemieux and Blackwood are close despite who they play for. Knowing what their former coach is going through, they showed a lot of heart.

Hawerchuk was recognized by the Barrie Colts that night too above. Here was what Lemieux had to say about the picture he took with Blackwood before the Rangers defeated the Devils 4-0:

Tremendous stuff. That is what it’s all about!

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Game 25: Special Teams and Determination keys to humiliation of the Devils

Teammates congratulate Alexandar Georgiev on his third career shutout in a 4-0 humiliation of the Hudson Rival Devils, who heard boos in Newark. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy Hartford Courant

Alright. Let me start off by saying this post will be a little different from the usual stuff. Being that Hasan took the Devils side of what was a unmitigated disaster for his team in a mess of a home game against the Rangers, I’m going to take a different direction on yesterday’s 4-0 humiliation against a Hudson rival that looks horrible.

Like Hasan accurately stated in his game review that included not one but two Rangers shorthanded goals in a embarrassing third period, things are looking more up for the Manhattan side of this rivalry. That simply stated, even I couldn’t believe how uncompetitive the Devils were in the final period. Here’s some proof:

The story of Saturday’s game was special teams. The Rangers were plus-three despite being shorthanded six times, which included a Chris Kreider major for boarding and a hi-sticking double minor on Libor Hajek. They scored once on the power play and twice on the penalty kill to move into first with six shorthanded goals.

I’m not going to tell you this was some masterpiece. It wasn’t. The Devils had the better of the play at five-on-five. They had six power plays. They probably should’ve been at least tied after two periods. I thought they deserved to be ahead based on how undisciplined the Rangers were. Without Jack Hughes (lower body injury), they had a better forecheck and created more scoring chances.

It didn’t matter. A perfect example were the two goalposts the Newark hosts hit. That was indicative of the kind of game it was for the team in their classic throwback Christmas ornament jerseys. I rather like those. You don’t get to see it much anymore. But it definitely brings me back to younger years in the early 90’s when Ken Daneyko and Kevin Todd (yes I went there!) rocked the green and red.

When you get as many opportunities as the Devils had, you have to take advantage. I listened to the first two periods on the radio. As fate would have it, it was a rare game for the Devils where they were on WFAN. Anytime you can catch Chico Resch doing color commentary with Matt Loughlin, it’s a good thing. Some might ask why didn’t I switch to Kenny Albert and Dave Maloney. Because I can listen to them anytime on ESPN Radio. Plus I have always had a soft spot for Chico because he did me a solid when I worked as a production assistant in ’00-01. He’s a great guy. Fun and insightful.

I thought Resch touched on a critical point after New Jersey failed to capitalize on a second straight man-advantage early in the second. He mentioned how the power play cost the Rangers on Black Friday at Boston. I think they ironically went 0-for-6. He said that could come back to bite the Devs as it did the Blueshirts. At least they got a point in that game.

Of course, Chico knew what he was talking about. He was prophetic. The Devils had better chances in the opening stanza, but gave up a power play goal to Adam Fox on a great cross ice feed from Kaapo Kakko. So, they converted their one chance in the first while the Devils were wasting opportunities. Once Ryan Strome hi-sticked Kyle Palmieri with 32 seconds to spare in the first, the Rangers kept marching to the penalty box.

Shortly following a successive kill of Strome’s minor, Artemiy Panarin tripped up Jesper Boqvist. It was another chance for the Devils to draw even and maybe swing the momentum. Instead, they hardly challenged Alexandar Georgiev, who was strong throughout in pitching his third career shutout with 33 saves. He did hold firm with some good saves down low like on Taylor Hall, who otherwise was invisible. But until the third, he hardly had to sweat despite 21 Devil shots. It was a real eye opener though because it had been a week since he started.

Here’s the other thing. The Rangers made mistakes that could’ve cost them. You had a bad giveaway by Hajek that led to a point blank Devils opportunity Georgiev stopped. Fox had a turnover in the neutral zone that almost resulted in a goal. Kyle Palmieri rang the shot off the crossbar. That’s what happens when things are going bad. You don’t get the bounces.

On a day Panarin didn’t register a point for only the fifth time in 25 games, the Blueshirts got big performances for other key players. That included Georgiev, who saved his best for the third on a two stop sequence that made one wonder how the puck didn’t go in. Miles Wood eventually put in the rebound, but the whistle had already blown rendering the play dead.

There were some brutal penalties from the Rangers, who were in action for the second consecutive day. Another bench minor handed the Devils a fourth power play with less than five minutes left in the second. It didn’t matter because they were so predictable. They never could get the shots they wanted. It was far too deliberate. Good power plays are instinctive. The puck must move quickly to set up shots. Nikita Gusev had some good attempts. But that was it. Palmieri missed a good chance wide in the slot. Hall couldn’t beat Georgiev from the right circle.

One other interesting discovery was that PK Subban was hardly used. He received 3:02 on the power play from endangered species John Hynes. That was behind defensemen Sami Vatanen (7:36), Will Butcher (5:31) and Damon Severson (4:49). If they’re not going to use him on the power play, then what’s the point? Hasan is absolutely right. It’s time for GM Ray Shero to pull the plug on his coach and staff. I’d clean house.

The astonishing aspect is the Rangers continued to take bad penalties. Hajek got his stick up to bloody Wayne Simmonds with 33 seconds left in the period. So, it was four more minutes for the penalty kill. The reason it was successful was they were active in their box by not allowing the Devils to get point blank clean looks. They got their sticks on pucks and cleared the zone to groans from the Devils side.

The Rangers penalty killers outworked and outhustled the Devils power kill play. Never was that more evident than on Zibanejad intercepting a dreadful pass in the neutral zone and working a give and go with Brendan Lemieux for a shorthanded goal at 2:35 that made it 2-0.

They weren’t done. Following a unwise play by Kreider in which he delivered a shoulder hit to a turning Matt Tennyson right into the boards, he received a questionable five minute major and game misconduct. Interestingly, they actually reviewed their call on the iPad. I felt it wasn’t malicious. At best four minutes. However, with how serious such hits are due to concussion protocol, they upheld the call. Kreider also fought Kevin Rooney, winding up with 20 penalty minutes. Where was that when I had him?

It didn’t matter that he was kicked out of the game. Instead, more Devils follies allowed this to happen.

That was way too easy. It looked like a cardinal copy of Lemieux and Zibanejad combining for a shorty 3:17 earlier. This was more off the rush started by an aggressive Jacob Trouba, who dropped for Zibanejad and went to the Devil net to create a perfect passing lane for Zibanejad to dish across for a Jesper Fast shorthanded goal on a quick one-timer past Mackenzie Blackwood short side. The same exact location as Zibanejad off Lemieux’s feed earlier.

By now, the Devils natives were restless. Boos rained down at The Prudential Center. “Fire Hynes!” chants were heard. They got what they deserved. It looked like they quit too. A ominous sign that something’s wrong. Think Knicks. Heck. The Giants have become this bad too under the clueless and passionless Pat Shurmur. I’m not gonna compare Hynes to him. At least he guided a team to the playoffs. Shurmur stinks.

Even if you love what you saw from the Rangers in that third period, it was very easy to notice a rival in chaos. With Hall reportedly being shopped by Shero, it looks like the for sale sign could come soon for the Devils. He likely won’t be back next summer. So, it makes sense. Will a valuable right defenseman like Vatanen become available? He’s the Devils best. We’ll see.

With boos raining down along with “Fire Hynes!” and “Let’s Go Rangers!” chants, you would’ve thought the apocalypse hit Newark. This kind of stuff used to happen at Madison Square Garden in the Dark Ages. I was part of some miserable games. I understand what Hasan is going through.

For some inexplicable reason only known to Hynes, he pulled Blackwood down three. That led to Brady Skjei lobbing one down the ice into an open net from 100 feet. It makes about as much sense as these early goalie pulls that Patrick Roy started. Those have to go. It’s an insult to the fans.

The game was long over. Those two shorthanded goals demonstrated how much more determined the Rangers were compared to the Devils. A huge contrast between two teams going in different directions.

There’s no need to further analyze that display. It was nice for the Rangers to come out of the holiday weekend banking three of four points on the road. Now, they get the Golden Knights at MSG on Monday. That should be a good test.

So, who does David Quinn go with? Is it back to Henrik Lundqvist, who’s played his best hockey recently. Or does he stick with Georgiev following the shutout? My guess is you’ll see one more Marc-Andre Fleury vs Henrik Lundqvist match up. Then perhaps they give Georgiev either Columbus this Thursday or Montreal on Friday. We’ll see.

This game was like taking candy from a baby. Don’t celebrate it too much. They did what they had to do despite a C effort.

Battle Of Hudson 3 🌟

3rd 🌟 Jacob Trouba, Rangers (assist on Fast shorthanded goal, very physical throughout, definitely one of his best games)

2nd 🌟 Alexandar Georgiev, Rangers (33 saves for 1st shutout of season and 3rd career)

1st 🌟 Mika Zibanejad, Rangers (shorthanded goal and primary assist in what was a dominant third by the top center)

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Devils hit rock bottom (perhaps)

Normally I leave the Devil-Ranger recaps to Derek and certainly things are looking much better on the other side of the river at the moment with the Rangers above .500 and actually getting contributions from more than two or three players on their roster, but today was just so hideous (even by our putrid standards) I had to weigh in too.  Granted, hideous isn’t much different than most of the rest of this sorry season on the face of it, but today was a new low – hopefully one never to be topped although I wouldn’t put that past us.  You would think getting shut out 4-0 at home by our biggest rival with half the fans cheering for the Rangers and the other half chanting ‘Fire Hynes!’ in the third period after a carnival show power play turned the game into a rout would be IT as far as how low you could go.  Perhaps that’s the only good news from an otherwise miserable Saturday afternoon at the Rock.

How could it possibly get worse?  Other than macabre type stuff like injuries or losing by double digits, or off-ice stuff like what’s happened in Toronto and Calgary recently (granted with mostly past tense incidents but still providing an impetus for present-day change).  Today gave me an acid flashback to the end of the Lou era where the Devils got whipped on Fan Appreciation Day, used as clown props really by the Rangers who not only skated circles around us but clinched the President’s Trophy in the process, and their fans booed our players off the ice for the team’s last home game of the year.  A harsh, if not fitting end to a terrible 2014-15 season.

Here we are five years later, and how much has really changed?  We squeezed into the playoffs once with a couple of great months of stretch-run hockey, but since Tampa gave us a five-game reality check in the blink of an eye we’ve followed up one bad season with another even worse season.  Maybe it won’t be worse in terms of final record but it is in terms of what was expected of this team after all their new additions.  Today was easily the low point of the post-Lou era, once again with another home embarassment against the Rangers.  Losing 4-0 is bad enough but the comical aspect of the power play going -2 for 8 (0-8 with not one but TWO shorthanded goals allowed), while the normally above average penalty kill looked like mites on ice allowing backdoor play after backdoor play until one wound up in the back of the net for the Rangers’ first goal in the opening twenty minutes.  Bad special teams is just another example of a bad coaching staff.

And now after this season goes up in smoke we’re going to be forced into rebuild 2.0, once GM Ray Shero does what he’ll inevitably need to do and deal Taylor Hall and Sami Vatanen at the deadline.  I could see the Devils making a run to keep Vatanen on ideally a short-term deal given his injury issues with concussions but they certainly will miss him if he goes off to a contender by March.  As far as Hall, the horse seems to be out of the barn at this point.

So let the sweepstakes commence.  This team’s not getting out of the hole it’s dug for itself.  The only way they even have a chance of doing so is a swift and immediate house-cleaning of the entire coaching staff, but until Shero actually does what needs to be done with John Hynes I’ll believe it when I see it.  He shouldn’t fire Hynes because the fans demand it per se, although the fans chanting that any coach should be fired is a new experience for me.  I grew up with the famed ‘Joe must go!’ chants from New York Jet fans but for Devil fans, this is new.  Booing Pete DeBoer in intros is one thing, but usually coaches got fired before fans got restless – especially under Lou Lamoriello.  And people could make fun of Lou’s itchy trigger finger but I’m sorry, he wouldn’t have let this kind of lack of fundamentals and accountability fester.

Silly me I actually was (ahem) looking forward to this game.  Not that I neccesarily thought we were going to win – as I said the other day pretty much no outcome would have surprised me – but a Saturday afternoon against the Rangers you would figure would at least have some buzz in the building.  There were people there, but no buzz – especially early.  You could almost hear a pin drop during introductions.  As jaded as I am over the last few years, even I stood and applauded for our players.  Two things brought me back down to my normal 2019 pessimism level…one, seeing online that this was going to be a Heritage game.  Seemingly every time since the first couple of games we wore throwbacks, we’ve lost on a retro night.  Two, the aformentioned first goal of the game where the PK looked like it had never killed a penalty before allowing time and space everywhere.  Then again, how can they be expected to get good practice in going up against our powerless play which was by far the biggest culprit on the night?

It was bad enough when the Devils squandered a double minor toward the end of the second period and gave up their first shorthanded goal of the game on top of it.  When Jesper Bratt had a hideous turnover at some point during that four minute power failure the boos rained down from all sides, including me.  I thought that would be the low point for our power play hahaha…true to form the Devils somehow managed to clear a limbo bar basically sitting on the ground by immediately squandering a five-minute major in spectacular fashion.  Giving up their second shorthanded goal of the game was bad enough, doing it on a three-on-one was so inept I couldn’t help but laugh at that point.  They finally broke me to the extent that I was actually hoping the Rangers would score at that point when I saw the three-on-one develop, that was the moment where I officially had it with just about everyone and everything associated with this team.  Needless to say we squandered the rest of the five-minute major, with a Nikita Gusev penalty mercifully killing off two minutes of it.  It was about at that point the ‘Fire Hynes!’ chants started and the boos rained down even more.

They certainly weren’t coordinated throughout the whole arena (maybe having half the arena be Ranger fans had something to do with it), but they were louder and more frequent as the game dragged to its inevitable conclusion.  Yeah I participated in both and I’m not ashamed of it either.  Texting my one friend he was like, ‘whoosh I’m glad I didn’t go’.  And as annoyed as I was over sitting through that garbage, part of me actually didn’t mind getting my voice heard in that moment too.  They deserved to get booed out of the arena.  Pretty much the only thing that stopped the boos was the final stoppage of play with three minutes to go where the mass exodus of Devils fans commenced.  The only reason I wasn’t among the ones walking out was I figured I’d catch a couple of my friends on the way out of the arena since I saw they were still at their seats.  I didn’t even see the last goal while I was walking across the arena.  Who cared at that point?

Pretty much being social is the only reason to go to games anymore.  But when everyone is going to games less frequently, there’s less of an opportunity to actually be social.  At this point I’d rather be social playing trivia with my friends on Tuesdays at local bars.  If the first half of this season has seemed long it’s just going to get worse and worse unless something’s done to actually attempt to change the feeling around the team and in the arena right now.  Even if Shero is too stubborn to want to change for the fans or because the players looked like they quit in the third period (especially on that stupid four-on-four right after the second shorthanded goal where they just let the Rangers skate around with the puck all day), you can’t deny reality with blind loyalty forever.

You can’t let a poisonous atitude fester around the team for the sake of loyalty.  If it was just younger players who weren’t doing well you could maybe blame it on them not being as good as we thought they were.  Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt’s regression is bad enough, Ty Smith not making the team was worse, but when you have a guy like P.K. Subban go pointless IN THIRTEEN STRAIGHT GAMES, that tells me something’s fundamentally broken.  Is Subban washed up – maybe – but with so many guys underachieving I’d like to see them all under a new staff before I assume ‘all’ the players are the problem here.  Even if I am starting to think of Subban like Brett Favre, another guy who I was a huge fan of before he wore my team’s uniform then became a lot less of a fan of after he put it on and dissapointed.

It’s your move Mr. Shero, you need to do what has to be done.

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Game 24: Nothing Bruin for Blueshirts, Pastrnak gives Buchnevich a lesson, Chytil stays hot in loss

Early on, it was all smiles for Pavel Buchnevich, Filip Chytil and the Rangers. But blown chances on the power play cost them in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Bruins. AP Photo by New York Rangers via Getty Images

Sometimes, you miss games due to more important stuff happening. Like trading in my 2017 Black Honda Accord for a beautiful 2019 White Honda Accord. As you can guess, that took up the whole day. But in the end, it’s all worth it.

Even if I tracked the game and it didn’t wind up the way I hoped. You had to know that even with the Bruins playing a D game due to perhaps too much turkey and stuffing, eventually they were going to show up for the big Black Friday NBC match against the Rangers. Truth be told, I thought they had a chance due to how they’d played into Thanksgiving. Particularly not having to face Patrice Bergeron or Tuukka Rask.

It sounded like it was going to go the Rangers way for a while. One of my keys came through for the only goal in a good first period. Pavel Buchnevich scored his fifth after a power play expired. Tony DeAngelo continued his hot play by making a great pass in the slot that Buchnevich fired top shelf for an even strength goal at 14:14. Jacob Trouba added a secondary helper by setting the play up.

Following Buchnevich’s goal, the Rangers controlled much of the action. During a break with Honda, I listened to Kenny Albert on the radio say that the shots were 12-2 after the tally. This was a few minutes into the second period. They were outplaying and outshooting the Bruins by a wide margin. What followed was a nice transition in the neutral zone from Artemiy Panarin to Ryan Strome for a wrist shot that Jaro Halak leaked out to Filip Chytil for his eighth goal in his 15th game since coming up. Tomorrow will be his 100th career game in New Jersey.

With the Bruins flat and unable to force Henrik Lundqvist into many difficult stops, it looked like it was going to be a Ranger win. Finally on a winning streak, they were in good position to make it four in a row. After a fight that Charlie McAvoy started to spark his team, Brendan Smith earned the decision by doing his job.

It didn’t look like the scrap was going to wake up Boston. Instead, they took liberties with Ranger players. A Matt Grzelcyk hi-sticking minor on Mika Zibanejad gave the Rangers a power play. Less than a minute later, Boston fourth line center Sean Kuraly took an unnecessary cross-check minor on Adam Fox. That handed the Blueshirts a two-man advantage for 61 seconds.

In essence, this was the game. David Quinn knew it by using his timeout to rest his best players. What the heck for? How many times have we seen or on this special occasion, heard this team fail on a five-on-three due to being too passive and reluctant to shoot? It never fails. Instead of opening up a three goal lead against a quality opponent that they needed, the Rangers blew it completely. They let the Bruins off the hook by only getting two shots on goal while the hosts outhustled them and got big clears to get the home crowd behind them.

Sure enough, Kuraly tipped in a Jake DeBrusk point shot on a play set up from Brandon Carlo for a momentum shifting goal that cut it to 2-1 with 1:32 left in the period. That’s how it always works in these games. You get a huge opportunity to put away a very good team and don’t do it. Then pay the price.

Funny enough, I sadly predicted that David Pastrnak would tie the game in the third. But I said on a power play because Boston had none. Astonishingly, they only got one chance midway through the third with the game tied and Smith off for hooking David Krejci. It didn’t matter. The damage was already done.

I’ve followed the game for a long time. Maybe someone can explain how Pastrnak was left so wide open on a five-on-five situation as Buchnevich wasn’t even aware where the top finisher was. It amounted to an easy finish for the sniper’s league-leading 24th from Krejci and DeBrusk. That goal tied it at 4:27 of the third period. Chris Kreider was also in no man’s land on the tying marker. Brady Skjei was a bystander as DeBrusk outworked him to set up the original Krejci shot that deflected right to Pastrnak.

The astonishing aspect is the Bruins gave the Rangers another chance to get a win when Par Lindholm drew blood on a hi-sticking double minor to Smith with 7:02 left in regulation. Predictably, they again failed miserably. The power outage cost them. They finished 0-for-6.

Instead, the game went to overtime. It didn’t take long for Pastrnak to completely undress Buchnevich by going around him before making a unbelievable pass back to a wide open Krejci for the OT winner past Lundqvist at 1:40. It’s a play that will be replayed for a while.

If you’re not upset like the reactionary and unrealistic fans are, then you’ll take the positive out of this game. I think my Twitter buddy summed it up best.

While it sucks to lose to Boston again with Brad Marchand missing time due to concussion protocol during the third on a collision with a accidental Trouba elbow, the reality is that this is a young team. They’re going to make mistakes. They lost today’s game due a power failure. They didn’t register one shot on that five-on-three. Unacceptable. The six power plays had a total of only six shots. That’s cruddy. Maybe put Kaapo Kakko back on the first unit. He’s been very quiet lately.

The shots at five-on-five were 22-21 Rangers. That’s significant progress from the Garden embarrassment a month ago that we were at. Losses are never fun. It’s time for them to move on. Strome put it best afterwards.

I don’t expect Saturday’s game at the Devils to be easy. They’re the rested team following a wild win at Montreal on Thanksgiving. They already got the Rangers once. This should be an Alexandar Georgiev start after Quinn rode Lundqvist this week. We’ll see how he and the team respond.

Battle Of Hudson 3 🌟

3rd 🌟 Filip Chytil, Rangers (8th goal in 15 games, finished with 4 shots and +1 in 15:45)

2nd 🌟 David Krejci, Bruins (great pass to set up Pastrnak goal and overtime winner, 11 for 16 on draws, +2 in 19:28)

1st 🌟 David Pastrnak, Bruins (league-leading 24th goal plus unreal move and primary assist on Krejci’s OT winner, 5 shots on 10 attempts, +2 in 21:42)

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Marc Staal getting close to a return and a tough situation

As the Rangers get set for the Bruins in a couple of hours up in Boston, defenseman Marc Staal is nearing a return from ankle surgery to repair an infection. It was sustained while blocking a shot.

Of course, the prideful 32-year old veteran played in a game after sitting out a couple despite the injury. Then, it was revealed that he had surgery. This gave a chance to Ryan Lindgren, who has since run with it by forming a solid third pair with fellow rookie Adam Fox. Given how well he’s played, it would be foolish for him to come out of the lineup.

When Staal is ready, it’s been suggested here and other spaces that he should sit out. At this critical juncture of the rebuild, the defense is starting to come together. While there are inconsistencies which you should come to expect from a top six that includes three 21-year old rookies, they have to be allowed to grow. Learning from mistakes will help their development over the long haul.

Of the six current blueliners on the roster, Libor Hajek is the weakest defensively. That’s fine. He’s young and is skilled due to strong skating. You don’t just bench him unless he has a bad game. There are peaks and valleys with young players. Especially first-year defensemen.

It’ll be interesting to see how second-year coach David Quinn goes about bringing Staal back into the lineup. Unlike other fans, who just can’t help themselves, I don’t make light of a respected player who’s given his heart and soul to the cause. Ask Henrik Lundqvist how he feels about the second most tenured Blueshirt behind him. He knows and appreciates what number 18 has been.

Staal is near the end of his Rangers career. With only a year left on his contract that pays him an AAV of $5.7 million, it’s even possible that he could get moved to a Western contender that can use a experienced defensive defenseman on a third pair. San Jose and Calgary could be potential destinations depending on what Staal’s list is. He has a partial no trade clause.

If not, there is the distinct possibility that he gets bought out next summer similarly to Black and Blueshirt Dan Girardi.

Whatever happens with Staal, don’t forget that the former ’05 first round pick has been a key part of runs in 2012, ’14 and ’15. Like Girardi, he played hurt. If they weren’t so banged around in that last run, they probably beat the Lightning and make a second consecutive Stanley Cup Final. We’ll never know how it would’ve turned out.

It’s sure to be a delegate situation for Staal, who wants to play like any veteran player. Hopefully, it’s handled well.

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Rangers get ready for Black Friday Original Six showdown versus tough Bruins on NBC

Photo Credit South Park

It’s officially a sunny and chilly Black Friday in the city. Hopefully, things will heat up as the day after Thanksgiving moves along. If anyone is actually shopping today, good luck. Be careful. Have fun too.

As for me, I am in the market for a new car. My very cool black Honda Accord could be going back today for a different model. We’ll see. Hard to believe it’s been nearly three years that I’ve had it. By far my favorite car. Honda’s are great.

It’s a good possibility that I’ll miss the annual NBC Black Friday game this afternoon. This year’s match-up pits Original Six rivals, the Rangers and Bruins against each other at TD Garden. Game time is 1 PM. I’d imagine the great Doc Emrick will have the call. I love him. That’s due to my great experience working in the background during the ’00-01 season as a production assistant for the Devils. A gig the legendary and now retired Stan Fischler got me. It was also his connection that lead me to ESPN for over a year when hockey was much more prevalent. Stan The Man is a great person.

As far as the second meeting between New York and Boston goes, it would be nice if the Blueshirts didn’t forget what happened to them at MSG on a Sunday night a month ago on Oct. 27. The Bruins humiliated them 7-4. It wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Their big line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak had a field day.

The remarkable trio went for a combined 13 points (5-8-13) highlighted by a Bergeron hat trick. Marchand went 2-3-5 and Pastrnak had five assists. He leads the league with 23 goals in 25 games. Five up on Connor McDavid and teammate Marchand, who’s 43 points (18-25-43) rank third in NHL scoring. Nobody has a higher plus/minus (20) than Marchand, who’s an early Hart contender.

With Bergeron out right now, Marchand and Pastrnak show no signs of slowing down. They’ve led Boston to a 17-3-5 record with a league best 39 points. The Caps also have 39, but have played one more game and have one more regulation loss (4). The Bruins are ranked number one in offense (93 GF) and number one in defense (58 GA). Their power play is first clicking at a lethal 32 percent. The penalty kill ranks 12th at 83.3 percent.

Nobody has more power play goals than Pastrnak, whose 12 could lead some teams over a season. Yikes. He has 16 power play points and five game-winners. Marchand is 3-10-13 on the power play with four game-winning goals and a 27.7 shooting percentage (18 goals on 65 shots).

Without Bergeron, who always seems to miss some time due to injuries, the overlooked David Krejci is a suitable replacement. He has 17 points in 19 games with a plus-16. Charlie Coyle, who just re-signed for an average cap hit of $5.25 million, can either center the top line or the second one featuring Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen. All are good secondary scorers that supply depth. They also re-signed tenacious checking wing Chris Wagner to an affordable three year deal worth $4.05 million. His 69 hits pace the B’s.

The defense is still anchored by captain Zdeno Chara, who continues to defy logic by putting up five goals and seven assists and a plus-17. Sure. He can be attacked due to the footspeed slowing down. But he plays physical and has a perfect complement in partner Charlie McAvoy. It’s surprising that he hasn’t scored a goal. But the much younger right D does everything. Torey Krug paces them in D scoring with 18 points. Twelve have come via power play assists. Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk remain underrated along with Connor Clifton.

Sean Kuraly remains one of the league’s best fourth line centers. There aren’t many weaknesses. Tuukka Rask (12 Wins, 2.10, .931, 2 SHO) remains one of the elite goalies and Jaro Halak is a steady backup.

Basically, the Rangers must play a very smart game which includes staying away from any unnecessary penalties. They will be hard pressed to match the firepower of Pastrnak and Marchand, who are two of the best players in the game. They are tough on the forecheck and have ridiculous chemistry. Even minus Bergeron, they’ll be a handful.

I have to think David Quinn will use Brady Skjei and Jacob Trouba out as much as possible. If not, get the solid rookie tandem of Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox out and see how they do. Do not let either Libor Hajek or Tony DeAngelo anywhere near the ice against that top line. No disrespect intended. But that wouldn’t be a favorable match-up. Boston has the last change.

I’m curious to see who Quinn decides to go with head to head up front. Is it Mika Zibanejad or maybe he shifts Ryan Strome back to center a third line with Artemiy Panarin and Jesper Fast. Well, really a one line B. He could mix and match like Wednesday. Filip Chytil has good chemistry with Pavel Buchnevich, who saw time back with Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. What about Kaapo Kakko and Chytil with Brendan Lemieux? Maybe Lemieux will be used as a deterrent.

Kakko has worked best on the third line due to avoiding the toughest assignments. If it’s Strome on the right wing, that means he could play again with Brett Howden. I’m assuming Greg McKegg isn’t ready yet. Boo Nieves could suit up again on the fourth line. Don’t tell me they’re gonna dress Micheal Haley because it’s Boston.

I would be surprised if Henrik Lundqvist didn’t get the start. He’s been playing his best hockey. The 41 saves on Carolina allowed the Rangers to win 3-2. That included 17 in the third period. He also was good in Monday’s come from behind 3-2 overtime win over the Wild that moved him in front of Curtis Joseph for fifth on the all-time wins list. He has 456. Marc-Andre Fleury is chasing him on Vegas.

With the Devils tomorrow afternoon in Newark, it makes sense to ride the hot hand versus the better opponent. No disrespect meant to New Jersey, who beat the Rangers in their first meeting. But it’s more logical to have Alexandar Georgiev go in the second game of the back-to-back on Saturday. Quite a busy stretch for the team.

Let’s see if Panarin can keep it going today. He leads the team in goals (12), assists (20) and points (32). It doesn’t seem to matter who he plays with. That speaks to the high end skill and intelligence he has. I’m curious to see how key secondary scorers Pavel Buchnevich (4-14-18) and Kreider perform. They need them to be factors.

It’s been DeAngelo (7-11-18) and Fox (4-10-14) leading the way on the blueline that’s doing its part. Skjei has picked it up since being re-teamed with Trouba. Obviously, they need to be solid and avoid mistakes.

Hopefully, the Rangers will be ready to go from the start. That wasn’t an issue last time. It was afterwards when they imploded. A great team like the Bruins can make you look bad. Let’s see if they can get some redemption.

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Devils thankful for a rare win on Turkey Day

Quite frankly tonight’s odd Thanksgiving game in Montreal was the first I’d really paid much attention to in the last couple weeks, though I didn’t watch as much of the latter part of the game nursing a headache and turkey hangover.  I don’t remember the last time the Devils actually played on Thanksgiving, even the NBA isn’t going up against the holiday/NFL juggernaut tonight.  Perhaps it isn’t surprising that the only NHL game was in Canada where they aren’t celebrating American Thanksgiving, but it is a rough break for the Devils players to be the only ones away from their families on the holiday.  At least make it an all-Canada matchup if you’re only putting a standalone Canadian game today.  For whatever we think and say about these guys, they do have to sacrifice a lot of family time to play this game that (normally) entertains us.

At least this trip wasn’t a waste for the Devils from a results standpoint…they won and scored six goals, which are the best things I can say about the game.  It was more pond hockey reminiscent of the early season rather than the low-event hockey the Devils have played lately, which may well be a good thing long-term.  Firewagon hockey probably isn’t doing Mackenzie Blackwood any favors though.  It was a mixed bag for the young goalie, who played well for the most part with 44 saves, though he did give up four goals including a couple of eh ones.  Until and if this team ever went on a massive run though, all you can really look at right now is individual performances, and particularly of the younger players.

Perhaps most encouraging tonight was the game by Nikita Gusev, in a game with ten goals you could argue the biggest impact was by the KHL import who didn’t have one of them…but had three assists, a couple of the highest quality, and could have easily had four or five if the finishing had been even better.  His three point night pushed his point total to a respectable 11 in 21 games, and the arrow’s pointing up after a scary beginning.  Also worthy of notice was rookie Jesper Boqvist, whose first NHL goal was marred both by the fact it was in a loss to the Wild on Tuesday and that it should have been overturned because of a hand pass seconds before the goal.  Thankfully his second goal tonight had more meaning, and overall he was more noticeable tonight with three shots on goal and two hits in just over ten minutes of icetime.  It’s time for coach John Hynes to let the kid play.  Even when Boqvist wasn’t scoring earlier in the season he wasn’t hurting the team the way some other forwards have.

As rough as I’ve been on Miles Wood this season, his play has improved in the last few games and his breakaway goal was reminiscent of the skill he showed in his breakout season two years ago.  And after being quiet for much of the season, Blake Coleman’s roared to life the last couple of weeks – culminating in a two-goal, four-point night – as the line of Coleman, Gusev and Travis Zajac had their way with the slumping Habs.  While 2017 #1 overall Nico Hischier’s still been quiet, at least he’s piling up some assists with six points in six games.  Three goals in twenty-two games isn’t good enough at this point, but I’m not one of those fans that goes woe is us, we could have had Heiskanen or Makar!  That’s the ultimate second-guess considering everyone in the hockey world only had either Nico or Nolan Patrick as possible #1 overalls that year.  If one or a few guys below that tier wind up being better, that’s just tough luck and nobody’s fault.  It would be nice if some other guys who are even bigger names than Nico got going but c’est la vie.

For once at least John Hynes played Pavel Zacha, Jesper Bratt and Boqvist in the same lineup and voila, the team looked a little more exciting – though most of that had to do with the Gusev line at least Zacha had an assist and Boqvist a goal.  With our luck we’ll probably get Bratt scratched for John Hayden again on Saturday since we gotta use that grit against the Rangers in a rivalry game!  I do want to give the coaching criticisms a break on this holiday, especially after a win…but I wasn’t amused over the charade of assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald being behind the bench ending with nothing materially changed.  As I suspected, it was a move to try to buy Hynes time when he was under the gun, nothing more.

Although I watched some of tonight’s road game, Saturday’ll be my first home game in a couple of weeks.  I could have used a freebee to go to Tuesday’s game after selling my pair but wound up playing hooky and hanging out with friends at a trivia night instead.  I was definitely better off there, even though our trivia team only did about as well as the Devils and Louis Domingue against the Wild.  At least I was spared watching that fiasco, but there’s no hiding Saturday for my one and only Devil-Ranger home game of the season, after also being forced to miss the earlier one.  Seems like the Rangers have had more sustainable improvement than we have lately but we also had our best performance of the season against them last month, so who knows how it turns out Saturday.

Literally nothing would surprise me given both our teams’ wild inconsistencies.  If we blew them out, I wouldn’t be surprised, if they blew us out I wouldn’t be surprised.  I’m probably expecting a close game with blown leads (we somehow won tonight despite three blown leads) more than either blowout scenario though.

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Game 23: A Winning Streak! Classic Lundqvist performance makes for a Happy Thanksgiving, Fox burns Hurricanes

Henrik Lundqvist continued his mastery over the Hurricanes by stopping 41 of 43 shots to help the Rangers win 3-2 along with budding rookie Adam Fox, who had a goal and assist on Turkey Eve. AP Photo by Jared Silber via Getty Images

Yesterday, the Rangers played their final game before Thanksgiving. They made it a happy one for all the fans who attended by holding off the Hurricanes 3-2 at MSG on Turkey Eve.

The one goal victory wouldn’t have been possible without Henrik Lundqvist. The 37-year old veteran goalie was at his best turning away 41 of 43 shots to preserve the team’s third win in a row. For the first time this season, they have a winning streak. Cue up the classic line from skipper Lou Brown expertly played by the memorable James Gammon in Major League II when he tries to fire up the Indians in the locker room. It finally applies.

It’s funny because I’ve made reference to that line a half dozen times, or so it seems. Hasan also uses it along with other classic Major League references. We do it because it’s fun and it’s the perfect sports movie to apply to our teams. Who doesn’t love comedy? You could probably use Bob Uecker’s even more comical Indians TV announcer Harry Doyle for many other times when things aren’t going well for our teams. True enough, Major League was on last night. I caught the awesome ending on Ovation.

So what does last night’s satisfying win mean for the rebuilding Rangers? For starters, they look like they’re headed in the right direction. Upping their record to 12-9-2 and above real .500 (12-11) is definitely a positive. Along with the continued development of improving young players such as Adam Fox (game-winning goal, assist) and Ryan Lindgren (assist), you have to be pleased if you’re coach David Quinn.

It was exactly the type of game you want to see this team come out on top in. The Hurricanes aren’t Montreal or Minnesota. They’re better due to their aggressive offensive system that emphasizes skating, transition and puck possession. Even though Lundqvist has their number, this isn’t the same team from a few years ago. They proved it on Wednesday by nearly rallying from a 3-0 first period deficit.

As usual, Carolina picked up the tempo in the final two periods following a poor first that put them behind by a field goal. It was all Blueshirts early on. In his first game back from the mysterious upper body injury that kept him out 13 games, Mika Zibanejad scored on the power play only 2:54 in. Fox made a great feed across for a Zibanejad one-timer that Petr Mrazek had no chance on. Artemiy Panarin helped set it up. Welcome back Mika.

More astonishing was seeing Brendan Smith perfectly one-time a good Lindgren pass for his second of the season 1:18 later for a 2-0 lead. Tony DeAngelo added an assist to raise his total to 18 points (7-11-18). He is off to a great start.

Even though they struggled defensively in the early going, Carolina did get 10 shots on Lundqvist, who was sharp like his previous start on Monday when he passed Curtis Joseph for sole possession for fifth on the all-time wins list. He is moving better and his rebound control in particular has improved.

With less than two minutes left in the period, a great passing play between Libor Hajek set up a low Panarin one-timer that an aggressive Fox tipped home past Mrazek for a 3-0 lead. Normally, you don’t expect your defensemen to be in front like Fox was. However, Brent Burns is one of the best at that. We also saw Brady Skjei score a similar goal earlier this year by tipping in a Smith shot. It was a good read by one of the NHL’s best rookies. Fox is now up to 14 points (4-10-14). Not quite Cale Makar territory, but his evolvement is noticeable.

As expected, the Canes picked it up the rest of the way. It started in a much better middle stanza that saw them outshoot the Rangers 16-9. In fact, they held a hefty 33-14 edge in shots the final two periods. That’s the kind of talent they have. In particular, super sophomore Andrei Svechnikov was everywhere. When he wasn’t firing dangerous shots on goal that Lundqvist stopped, he was playing physical by finishing checks. The 19-year old Russian has a little Ovechkin in him. A terrific skater with good size and strength, he’s an emerging star.

For a while, it looked like Carolina would be hard pressed to sneak one past Lundqvist. In his two wins this month versus them, he’s stopped 86 of 90 shots (.956 save percentage). Basically, he’s the biggest reason they won the first two games of the season series. The 41 saves he made improved his save percentage from .910 to .914. Hard to believe Lundqvist has that while still having a 3.17 GAA.

It wasn’t until some confusion at the Ranger bench helped get the Canes back in the game. Both Brendan Lemieux and another skater jumped into the ice at the same time to cause a bench minor for too many men on the ice. It was their third one over the last four games. Unacceptable. Lemieux missed some shifts before returning for the third.

With Pavel Buchnevich serving the penalty, the Hurricanes finally connected thanks to a good Ryan Dzingel wrist shot through traffic beating Lundqvist to cut the lead to 3-1 at 14:29. Dougie Hamilton and Svechnikov earned assists on Dzingel’s fifth.

Finally alive, they pressed for more and got even closer 1:31 later. On a Jaccob Slavin shot that Lundqvist thought he had underneath him, a checked Warren Foegle was able to poke in the rebound for his fourth win 4:02 left in the second. Despite some protests from Lundqvist, the goal correctly stood due to Lindgren hitting Foegle from behind to carry his momentum so he could push in the loose puck. A good ruling by refs Jon McIsaac and Garrett Rank.

Things got dicier when Ryan Strome took a hi-sticking minor when he accidentally caught the inside of Hamilton’s helmet with 1:36 remaining. However, the Carolina eighth ranked power play that had already cashed in once, failed to score. Lundqvist made a couple of strong saves and the penalty killers did a solid job to escape the period up one.

The third was mostly Hurricanes. They came like a storm literally. Following the Blueshirts killing the remaining 24 seconds of the Carolina power play, it was the guests that hounded Lundqvist’s net in search of the equalizer. He really had to be on his toes. Though perhaps his biggest save came when he somehow got the end of his goal stick on a shot that was headed in. It was a desperation move that probably saved the game.

Even though they hardly could sustain a consistent attack, the Rangers had a couple of chances to extend the lead. Filip Chytil was dangerous during his shifts and was the best Rangers forward. You can really see his confidence building. He also was solid defensively. He got some turns with Panarin and Strome, who didn’t have any luck finishing on a point blank opportunity that he fanned on with an open net. He would draw a interference minor on Hamilton with 9:31 left.

However, the Rangers were unable to capitalize on the man-advantage. They really didn’t set up much. They were outshot 17-5 in the third. A Chytil trip of Lucas Wallmark forced them to kill one more penalty late in regulation. Even though Lundqvist was under siege, he stopped the puck and got a good effort from his penalty killers.

With Mrazek on the bench for an extra attacker, it was nerve racking. But smart defensive positioning by Brett Howden forced Sebastian Aho to take a tripping minor in the offensive zone with only 36 seconds remaining. That was a big play that helped them finish the game off.

After winning a defensive draw, Mrazek again went to the bench for a fifth player. But the Canes didn’t have enough time to get a shot as the final buzzer sounded with Lundqvist fielding a soft backhand attempt as the Rangers celebrated.

It was a hard fought win against a quality opponent. They’ve now dealt the Hurricanes two of their nine losses in regulation with Lundqvist largely responsible. He improved his career record to an outstanding 32-12-1 with a 1.98 GAA and .935 save percentage.

Following being named the game’s number one star, he explained to MSG’s John Giannone that even though it was a battle, he liked how hard the team competed. They battled in front of him by sacrificing their bodies by blocking 22 shots led by Jacob Trouba’s three along with Skjei (3). In fact, 15 of the 18 Rangers skaters had a block.

That’s how team oriented they were. They may have been outshot 43-25 and out-attempted 80-50. But their commitment paid off. Thirty-seven of Carolina’s 80 attempts didn’t reach the net.

Now, they have today off and can enjoy the turkey or ham with all the trimmings. They have to be ready early tomorrow afternoon for the big Black Friday 1 PM matinee at the Bruins. Last time out, they were humiliated at home. Let’s see if they have good memories and payback the league’s top team.

Expect Lundqvist to start with him finally in a good groove. I would figure Quinn to go to Alexandar Georgiev for Saturday’s back-to-back road match against the Devils. Also a 1 PM start.

Battle Of Hudson 3 🌟

3rd 🌟 Andrei Svechnikov, Hurricanes (assist, 6 shots, 11 attempts, 3 hits in 18:20)

2nd 🌟 Adam Fox, Rangers (4th goal for game-winner plus 🍎 in 19:20, up to 4-10-14 in rookie season)

1st 🌟 Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers (41 saves including 17 of 17 in 3rd, 86 of 90 shots stopped in 2 wins vs Canes)

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