Igor Shesterkin’s NHL Debut was a Win, Win

Last night’s NHL debut of New York Rangers’ elite goalie prospect Igor Shesterkin was a win, win in my opinion. While it didn’t take long for the young netminder to get a taste of the sometimes woeful Ranger defense, I thought he settled in nicely and made some good saves when they needed him to. True, he gave up two early goals but one would be hard pressed to think that this young man did not have a few opening night jitters to shake off too.

One of the highlights came early in the first period when Shesterkin made a flyball like outlet pass from just above his goal crease right to the tape of forward Kaapo Kakko who took the pass and broke straight into the Colorado Avalanche zone. Whether you watched on television or in person at Madison Square Garden, you could hear the “ooh’s and ahh’s” plain as could be, and the smile response from Rangers coach David Quinn that followed was a memorable moment for fans who have waited to see this young man play at the NHL level.

I also admire the fact that the New York Rangers organization decided to give this young goaltender his debut appearance on home ice against the leagues leading offense in the Colorado Avalanche. The 5-3 Ranger victory was the icing on the cake and quite imaginably it left a sweet taste in the mouths of all involved in bringing him to America and the New York Rangers. Looking forward to his next start and watching him fill up the highlight reels with all that he seemingly has to offer.

Hockey In My Family Is A Generational Thing

Like some sort of rare family heirloom, an inheritance, or a birthright: Hockey, Madison Square Garden, and the New York Rangers for our family is a generational thing now four generations strong.

Mike

The legacy started back in the early 1950’s when our grandfather Anthony, “Butch” as he was better known, started taking our dad to the New York Rangers hockey games at what has been widely referred to as the “old garden.” Way back in the days of then coach Bill Cook, Harry Howell, Frank and Andy Bathgate, and Lorne “Gump” Worlsey. That’s right, in the days when Nedick’s still sold hot dogs and orange soda at MSG, when Camille “the eel” Henry was a NY Ranger rookie, and the days when goalies like Glenn Hall and the “Gumper” didn’t wear masks.

Two decades later in the early 1970’s when my brother and I, the third generation of our family started going to the games at Madison Square Garden (MSG), then version IV of MSG spanned from 31st to 33rd street between Seventh and Eighth avenues in Manhattan New York where it still sits to this day. It was the time in Broadway Blueshirts hockey history when the team still wore white jersey’s at home. The days when Ranger legends like the (GAG) Goal-A-Game line of Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle, and Vic Hadfield played, and Bobby Rousseau and Ed Giacomin were all nearing the end of their careers.

As a kid I can remember waiting around after the games outside Madison Square Garden’s rotunda and sometimes Toots Shor’s Restaurant, where the players sometimes gathered after a game, and hoping for just one of them to come out and sign an autograph. It was a tradition my brother and I later carried forward with our own kids.

One of my fondest memories was of my brother and I playing foot hockey with Rangers goalie Eddie Giacomin while our parents thanked and thanked him for not only giving us the puck he brought out with him after the game, but for giving us his time and a friendly pat on the head as young fans. I was only seven years old when the Rangers traded Giacomin, or technically waived him, and he was later claimed by the Detroit Red Wings in 1975. I can remember being so angry at them for doing so that all I wanted to be at the time was a Detroit Red Wings fan for Eddie. Giacomin’s departure later became what is now broadly known as one of the most emotional parting of the ways in NY Rangers’ history.

Eddie Giacomin’s return to Madison Square Garden was one of the saddest moments as a hockey fan that I can remember. There is one video on you tube of this moment, but beware that the footage is rather old. Nonetheless it was a very powerful moment and I think you’ll get the idea. Anyone who knows the New York Rangers’ history and maybe even having lived through it would remember the garden chants of EDDIE-EDDIE. On the night Giacomin returned to MSG as a Red Wing during the national anthem, the fans again recanted EDDIE-EDDIE (just as they do HEN-RIK, HEN-RIK) for goalie Henrik Lundqvist today. While the tears ran down Giacomin’s face as the rival Detroit Red Wings prepared to face off against the New York Rangers that evening with him in net, you could literally feel the power of what it means to be a New York Ranger and what it means to be a hockey fan in general. click to see the video on You Tube

It was the end of an era, but it was also the dawn of a new era because it was the official beginning of the “JD” years when goalie John Davidson had just come to the New York Rangers from the St. Louis Blues. It wasn’t long before the chants of “JD-JD” went up at Madison Square Garden just as they did for Ed Giacomin.

The Rangers tradition goes deep as JD (John Davidson) is now the President of the New York Rangers while Eddie Giacomin’s retired #1 hangs in the rafters at MSG among the other New York Ranger legends. Nine to be exact, with number ten coming next season when I’ve read that they will retire Vic Hadfield’s #11 to complete the GAG (Goal-A-Game) line’s recognition. At the moment the nine hanging up are: Ed Giacomin’s #1, Brian Leetch’s #2, Harry Howell’s #3, Rod Gilbert’s #7, Andy Bathgate’s #9, Adam Graves’ #9, Mark Messier’s #11, Jean Ratelle’s #19, and Mike Richter’s #35.

The mid to late nineteen seventies and on into the eighties were the days of the Maloney brothers Dave and Don, and the garden faithful got their first glimpses of the newly acquired Swedes Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg. Hysterical as it still is, it was also the days of the ‘Ooh Lala Sasoon’ Sasoon jeans commercial days that was done by then Rangers Phil Esposito, Ron Duguay, Ron Greschner, and Anders Hedberg. The days when the unforgiving, but passionate New York Ranger fans would ride herd on defenseman Ron Greschner for not finishing his checks when he had the opportunity to do so.

It was the time in our sport’s history when as kids we would have to stand on our seats to see Nicky Fotiu pound a rival tough guy from an opposing team. The days when Fotiu would be the first player to come out for the pregame warm ups and throw pucks up into the blue seats where we sat with our dad in section 432. As kids we would long to sit anywhere but in the blue seats, but he used to tell us that the game was different from up there and we probably never really appreciated that theory till later in life.

My dad loved his seat in the blues because he could stand up without blocking other people’s view of the game, smoke his cigarettes, shout obscenities, and run to the beer stand in between periods without worrying about us because he could see us from the concession stand line nearest to where we sat. Ironically following the renovation in 2013 section 432 was permanently removed.

We sat in the blue seats at MSG as youngsters in a haze of cigarette smoke which at the time the Garden was notorious for. Amidst the scent of cheap weed and the smells of roller cooked hot dogs and domestic beer to watch our beloved New York Rangers, as many times in a season as he was willing to take us in place of our uncle who shared the season seats with him. They went to all the marquee games against the New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, and Montreal Canadiens while we always went see the games against the teams we could care less about as kids.

Nearly seven decades of Ranger hockey history has passed from then till now and in short, fast forward to the shortened NHL lockout season of 2012-2013 when following that season, generation IV of our family became the next in line to start attending the New York Ranger games from a season seat. It was the 2013-2014 season when my brother and I decided it was our time to further the family tradition by taking our own kids to the games.

My oldest son was a pee wee goalie at the time and playing hockey in upstate New York when although the blue seats were no longer, we were more than happy to move down a section to what used to be the green seats in the older versions of MSG. We sat just below the visitors goal line so my son could have a cat’s eye view of the goaltenders and learn. Those were the days, and these are the type of memories that make a hockey family’s tradition a legacy.


Please note the views and opinions expressed in the written works contained within this site are solely those of the individual authors themselves. They are not intended to, nor meant to imply any type of endorsement, professional relationship, or affiliation to any of the individual people, organizations, or associations mentioned in the site’s publication. All written work is the sole property of the author of this website and may be subject to copyright laws.

Ranger Rants: Food For Thought From a Loyal Fan

Heck, I’ve been called a hockey maniac before, so I’m going to do the unthinkable here and put myself out there and see what happens. Go ahead and hammer me if you like, but I’m going to say what I feel and see if anybody at all sees the same things that I see. Somebody has to do it because there is way too much chatter about the New York Rangers’ defense and the inexperienced mistakes they are making at times.

Listen, I’ve been watching the New York Rangers since I was a kid and I’ve both played the game and I’ve coached the game. At the youth level of course, but regardless, I held a Level 4 USA Hockey coaching card for many years while my kids played, so I’ve taught the game too. It’s simple math here folks, kids make mistakes. And these young New York Rangers; Lindgren, Hajek, Fox, and DeAngelo included, are going to make mistakes. It’s a much faster game in the NHL as opposed to say the AHL.

For starters, for the European kids that come over here to play, quite frankly it’s a whole new game coming from a 200’ x 100’ sheet in the European elite leagues, to a 200’ x 85’ sheet here in the U.S.

What I feel is being overlooked here with respect to the New York Rangers is the ‘veteran’ problems they are having far beyond the inexperience of their younger players.

First of all, Lindy Ruff’s system of defense, both at even strength and on the penalty-kill, is quite frankly dated. It’s an ancient system in a game that has evolved since his successes way back when he coached in Buffalo and more recently in Dallas. The reason I say this is because I follow the Stars, and thankfully I only had to endure his system of hockey for one season until his departure. My guess, and it’s nothing more than just a guess, is that these youngsters don’t comprehend his system. Not because they don’t listen, but simply because our beloved sport has evolved into a much faster and much more skilled game than before, so keeping that in mind, by them recently coming from college and the elite leagues abroad, it’s just not how they’ve been taught to play.

In Ruff’s days as a player, the game was drastically different. I can say that because I’ve watched him play over his career and most recently when he was a New York Ranger. I’ve watched him play and coach because it was growing up years, and in his day the game was much slower and much more physical. Lindy Ruff was a physical presence in his day, but the game has changed. While I, like others, love to see the physical play too it’s hard to play that type of game now with the increase in both speed and skill. Rather than beat a dead horse, I will just say that I feel like something needs to change and I would like to see what Assistant Coach Greg Brown has to offer, since ultimately that is who David Quinn brought in with him while Ruff was still lobbying for Quinn’s head coaching job.

Now I’m backtracking here a little bit because I mentioned the word ‘veteran’ in the context of the New York Rangers’ issues. Does any anyone see, or agree that, some of the team’s issues have been veteran relevant?

With all due respect to King Henrik, because he has given us as fans some memories that will last a lifetime (no pun intended), but his historic susceptibility to giving up the early tally at times has often led to outcomes like we saw last evening. Don’t get me wrong, I love his game play, and I love his competitiveness as well as his desire to win, but with that in mind, it’s just my feeling that the commitment to Alexandar Georgiev is by far, if nothing else, not exactly what I would call a commitment. Nor is it a total commitment to the youth as a whole, nor in essence the rebuilding around the young players as they have promoted.

Maybe I’m not seeing the same things as others, but I see a different team when Henrik Lundqvist is in net as opposed to Alexandar Georgiev. Especially on the defensive zone side of things. Maybe the D relaxes too much with Hank in net because they feel as a veteran, he’ll do his share and by god we know he does. We’ve all seen it time and time again. I know that Coach Quinn has said in many interviews that he would not ride the hot hand in goal, but after 26 games, that needs to be a flexible thing at the very least. Redacted, eh maybe, but it should be at the very least elastic enough to give young Georgiev the green light even if the King says he’s ready-to-go, and most especially after a momentum building win like the shutout in New Jersey on Saturday.

In addition, while I am ranting nevertheless, what in the world is going on with Chris Kreider?
I love the way this guy plays, but only when he plays. When Kreider plays his game, as we’ve all seen before too, he is a major force to be reckoned with. I’ve been watching him play since he was still in the AHL in Hartford. Back in the days when they said that he, as an eighteen-year-old, was not quite ready for a full season with the big team.

I lived just outside of Hartford, on the New York State side of the border of course, and I’ve gone to the games with my kids and watched him emerge into this league after college. There’s no other way to say this, but the guy has the skill, speed, size, and the grit to be an incredible iron-man in the Metropolitan division.

Exactly the type of feared player he should be since, when he wants to play, he tends to be unstoppable. That being said, he’s had a terrible history of inconsistency. And like Hank’s historical issue, I put Kreider in the same boat with him. While I am amazed at his ability to guide the youngsters as we’ve seen on the bench with him talking to his young teammates, it has not been consistent on the ice in his game play. I believe he’s worth the big money going forward, and maybe should have been the next Ranger captain, but he like Henrik, should be able to realize that the face of this team is changing around them, and if he’s committed to the rebuild as Henrik has said he is, he needs to put out more every game, not just here and there.

That’s all from me folks, so go ahead and have a ball. I’m an objective person so your thoughts, comments, and criticisms are welcomed. No censorship, speak your mind and I’ll respond when I can… and #LGR I’m hoping for a nice bounce-back game from them on Thursday night in Columbus.

Please note the views and opinions expressed in the written works contained within this site are solely those of the individual authors themselves. They are not intended to, nor meant to imply any type of endorsement, professional relationship, or affiliation to any of the individual people, organizations, or associations mentioned in the site’s publication. All written work is the sole property of the author of this website and may be subject to copyright laws.

Ranger Rants: The Alexandar Georgiev Situation

By Mike -CenterIcePen
I’m not going to even waste your valuable time on yet another redundant game summary. Instead, I’m going to speak from the viewpoint of a loyal fan…

Hey folks, I’m not going to even waste your valuable time on yet another redundant game summary that anyone can get with one-click on ESPN or NHL.com. Instead, I am going to use this post to speak from the viewpoint of a loyal fan on the impending goaltender situation in New York.

As the roller coaster ride that is the New York Rangers rebuild continues, one can’t help but to think back to March 3rd 2004 when defenseman Brian Leetch was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs after seventeen seasons as a New York Ranger. Leetch was traded for Jarkko Immonen, Maxim Kondratiev and two future draft picks. Names are not important right now, but one of the two turned out to be Michael Sauer, which is a whole different story for another day. Do keep in mind though that Brian Leetch did contribute to bringing home Lord Stanley’s cup after 54 years and his number #2 now hangs in the rafters at Madison Square Garden. While of course hating to overstate the obvious here, the bottom line is that professional sports teams are also businesses.

Keeping that in mind, at times the unfavorable must be done. In this case it will be the trade that sends away young goaltender Alexandar Georgiev for likely nothing of any significance in return. Undoubtedly, although many people will probably disagree with this, one must think objectively in this case rather than emotionally.

When an organization like the New York Rangers, one with such a steep tradition as the Rangers have in it’s fan base, things like trades look a whole lot different from the business standpoint than they do from that of a fan’s perspective. Fact is that Henrik Lundqvist has spent fourteen seasons with the Rangers, will undeniably go down in Rangers history as one of the all-time greats, and you can pretty much bet your bottom dollar that at some point in the future Lundqvist’s #30 will go to the rafters like those who came before him. Sadly, as much as even I’d like him to stay, it’s near certain Alexander Georgiev’s #40 will not.

While it truly breaks my heart to think of what could have been when thinking about an under twenty-five goalie tandem in Alexandar Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin, clearly management has other ideas. Lundqvist has a no-move clause in his contract and if the Rangers were to expose Georgiev to the waivers market it would be hard to fathom him not being picked up by another team. While I would love to see Henrik bow out gracefully, my guess is he won’t. Especially since he has repeatedly said that he would like to play out his career in New York while still trying to win the Stanley Cup which has thus far eluded him.

Although we will see Henrik Lundqvist in the net tonight as the New York Rangers face off against the Los Angeles Kings tonight in L.A., as a lifelong fan of the Broadway Blueshirts I’m not pumped for it at all. It’s far too predictable for me. Yeah, they might play well tonight against an ailing Kings team, but it’s pretty fair to say that the team itself will look different tonight than they did in Vegas. If I were to place a bet on this game like betting on the coin-toss in the Super Bowl, my money would be on yet another early game tally that will not just change the momentum of the game, but also quickly erase any confidence the young defense had gained from the last game against the Vegas Golden Knights. Simply hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Please note the views and opinions expressed in the written works contained within this site are solely those of the individual authors themselves. They are not intended to, nor meant to imply any type of endorsement, professional relationship, or affiliation to any of the individual people, organizations, or associations mentioned in the site’s publication. All written work is the sole property of the author of this website and may be subject to copyright laws.

New York Rangers Wrap Up November 2019

The New York Rangers ended the month of November on a high note by trouncing the New Jersey Devils in a 4-0 shutout at the Prudential Center on Saturday afternoon. The New Jersey Devils’ season woes continue as they sit at the bottom of the NHL’s Metropolitan Division 9-12-4 having played the same 25 games as the Broadway Blueshirts. Ranger fans who took the bridge over troubled waters to see the Saturday matinee got a pleasant treat as they got to see a rock-solid performance from the teams 23-year-old netminder Alexandar Georgiev who stopped all 33 shots on goal and recorded his first shutout of the season in NJ.

Pretty impressive considering the night he had in Tampa Bay against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the middle third of the month, having been pulled after the first period giving up four goals, and then later being reinserted in the third period giving up one more for a season high total of five goals in a single game. Not long after that Georgiev returned to the net in yet another five-goal outing in Montreal against the Montreal Canadiens on November 23, but this time he escaped with a 6-5 victory. These two outings certainly scuffed his overall numbers having given up ten goals in a two-game span, however he continues to be focused amid the buzzing rumors that he may be moved to make way for the less than challenged thus far rookie Igor Shesterkin playing for the team’s minor league affiliate the Hartford Wolfpack in the American Hockey League.

After 25 games played, even though they are still in the bottom half of the Metropolitan Division, the Blueshirts are playing above .500 hockey at 13-9-3 with 29 points, perched just three points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins with two games in hand going forward. Beyond the ups and downs of November, the good news is Mika Zibenajad recently returned to the lineup and appears to be in sound physical condition. Zibanejad has two goals and an assist for three points in the three games since his return, and his presence has been felt in the wake of it. Something which is probably a huge relief for head coach David Quinn as he was smiling in the post-game interview following yesterday’s win.

Zibenajad missed 13 games after the ‘reverse’ hit he took from Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron on October 27th. While Zibanejad is likely the best two-way player on the team, one cannot overlook Artemi Panarin’s productivity since joining the New York Rangers.

For the month of November, Panarin contributed 7 goals and 16 assists for 23 points with a +11 rating, thus making him the most consistently productive offensive player on the team. In addition to his offensive contributions, he has made some sound defensive plays on the backcheck as well. Panarin has shown that he is by no means the defensive liability that other players of his caliber have been when arriving on Broadway with the same high expectations as he has. Most would likely agree that Panarin is worth every dollar the New York Rangers paid for him.

Other notable mentions for November, appropriately go out to D-men Tony DeAngelo and Adam Fox for their sound gameplay at both ends of the pond. Of course one cannot ignore the endless efforts of forward Brendan Lemieux who continues to make a case that he is likely worth the money he will probably ask for going into next season.

November was somewhat of a rollercoaster ride for the Blueshirts, having played the better part of the month without veterans Mika Zibenajad and Marc Staal. All things considered it really wasn’t all rat turds. In reality, with the youth the Rangers put on the ice from night to night, anyone who thinks that they’re not going to make mistakes is fooling themselves. Barring the middle five games of the month which included the 9-3 loss in Tampa back-to-back with the 4-3 loss against the Florida Panthers, the Blueshirts came out of it smelling like roses since in the last five game set of the month they pulled 9 out of 10 potential points on the table.

November wraps up looking like this: 13-9-3 overall, with 29 points in 25 GP. They are 6-3-1 in the last 10 games played and they are at an even split with 83 Goals For and 83 Goals Against. They’re currently 6th in the NHL Metropolitan Division, just 3 points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins with two games in hand, and the same 3 points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets with one game in hand going into Monday night’s game at Madison Square Garden against the Vegas Golden Knights 7:00pm EST.

Please note the views and opinions expressed in the written works contained within this site are solely those of the individual authors themselves. They are not intended to, nor meant to imply any type of endorsement, professional relationship, or affiliation to any of the individual people, organizations, or associations mentioned in the site’s publication. All written work is the sole property of the author of this website and may be subject to copyright laws.