Stephen Johns Returned to the Stars Lineup Saturday

About a week ago, I wrote a short post about a hockey player in the Dallas Stars organization by the name of Stephen Johns who was finally cleared to return to the lineup to play hockey again following a twenty-two month recovery from a head injury Johns suffered as the result of a hit he took from Matt Duchene of the Col0rado Avalanche back in 2017.

In my post It’s A Long Road Back I briefly spoke about the seriousness of head trauma and how from my own experiences with my son I was thrilled to see Stephen Johns finally making his return to the sport. Needless to say hockey is my sport and head injuries are a fact of life within the sport itself. Johns played his first game on Saturday night for the Stars’ AHL affiliate the Texas Stars, and in his first game back scored a goal and three assists on home ice against the Toronto Marlies to contribute to a 5-3 Stars victory.

All things considered this was some incredible news because although his return had been long awaited, the Stars organization seemingly handled his return cautiously and rightfully so. Concussion symptoms following a head injury have an indefinite recovery time. Players who experience symptoms referred to as post-concussion syndrome resulting from head trauma have to take things day by day and that is quite imaginably very frustrating. It’s great to see him back and I’m looking forward to his eventual recall to the big team.

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.

The NHL Winter Classic 2020

Yesterday’s NHL Winter Classic 2020 from the Cotton Bowl in Dallas Texas was an amazing way to start off the new decade as a Stars fan. The game itself as well as the coverage of the event on a whole was thrilling to see. Naturally seeing the Dallas Stars come away with a 4-2 victory over the rival Nashville Predators in the end made it that much sweeter, especially after the Stars were down 2-0 in the early part of the game. My compliments to all the folks who put an effort into making it happen, I never thought an outdoor game in such a genuinely warm environment could work but it did and it was an enjoyable way to spend the first day of the new year.

Of course I spent a large portion of the game tweeting and to no surprise at all took a lump or two over a tweet that I think was misunderstood, but it was my fault because I think after looking back on it that I probably could have worded it better than I did. The sport of Hockey is an emotional one, and at times we as fans walk a fine line in wanting to see our favorite team win, but I don’t think that there is a single person out there including myself that wants to see a player get injured trying to win a game.

I should probably clarify what I tweeted out because by far I do not condone what the Dallas Stars’ Corey Perry did when he delivered a head shot hit on the Predators Ryan Ellis and I think he was remorseful for doing so. It was definitely an on-the-edge of your seat moment in the opening minutes of the game and the reactions from the fans on Twitter including myself went on for hours even after the game ended. Sadly both players inevitably missed the rest of the game as the Predators Ryan Ellis did not return after the being helped off, and Corey Perry was assessed a major penalty and thrown out of the game.

Again, Hockey is an intense sport and at times whether you are a fan watching the game or a professional player participating in the game, emotions can sometimes get the better of you. I would like to personally apologize to the all the folks on Twitter who might have seen my tweet and maybe even may have raised an eyebrow at what I said, but in my defense it was purely a reactionary response to Ryan Ellis’ hit on New York Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich which was equally debated over social media following that game. Having watched both games on live television I learned something from this and that is that the NHL must figure out a better way to set a precedence in how they not only deal with a repeat offender, but what criteria goes into determining the repercussions for players who partake in such tactics. At first thought I was thinking that maybe reviewing these plays on the spot when they happen could work because Ellis’ hit on Buchnevich definitely warranted a major penalty, an ejection from that game, and a league suspension as well, but that would likely slow down the game and leave far too many incidences requiring in-game reviews.

At the time Corey Perry’s hit on Ryan Ellis seemed like poetic justice considering how I felt after watching him get away with hit on Buchnevich, but by far there is no question that he did not have to face the consequences Perry did because for Perry just the shame of being thrown out of a game like the nationally televised Winter Classic seemed far more punishing in itself and the Nashville Predators not only got the five man advantage but they also scored two power play goals on the penalty assessed to Dallas for Corey Perry’s actions. All Ryan Ellis got following his hit on Rangers Pavel Buchnevich was a two-minute minor penalty for elbowing and very lame review of the hit by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety official George Parros.

It is baffling at times but onward we go because the second half of the season is upon us and today the Dallas Stars are 23-14-4 and sitting in third place in the Western Conference’s Central Division eight points ahead of the same division rival Nashville Predators they faced in the game yesterday. Next time something like that happens I will take a moment to think before hitting the send button on a tweet of such a sensitive nature.

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.

Dallas Stars Will Hold Onto Julius Honka

The NHL (RFA) Restricted Free Agents had till 5:00pm today to sign with their teams in order to remain eligible to play in the big league this season but the deadline has passed, and Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka did not sign his offer. Within the last few hours it was reported that although teams could have signed Honka for virtually nothing, Stars General Manager Jim Nill opted to hold onto Honka’s right pending what happens between now and the upcoming February 24, 2020 deadline.

The Stars drafted Julius Honka in the first round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, 14th overall. Honka will turn 24 years old on Wednesday of this week and he is  currently playing for JYP in the Finnish Elite League in Finland, where he will remain as Dallas Stars Property. A situation similar to that of Edmonton Oilers Jesse Puljujarvi, and now neither of them will likely play in the NHL this season.

Honka asked to be traded after being scratched for 35 straight games at the end of last season as the Stars were about to make a run deep into the NHL post-season. As a Dallas Stars defenseman Honka logged three seasons, 87 games, and finished up with only 13 points (2 goals and 11 assists) and was -7 during his tenure.

While teams could have acquired Honka for virtually nothing, that could not benefit the Stars. Honka does not want to play in Dallas and the two sides remain deadlocked since the Stars do not have interest in sending him somewhere else for no compensation. Honka will not be a Dallas Star going forward.

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.