Close But No Cigar: The 2013-14 NYR Season From a Fan’s POV.
Before I begin, I just wanted to welcome myself to the readers of Full Tilt Hockey. Excited to be on board; wrote for the page True Blue- I Am A Ranger. If you don’t follow them on Facebook and Twitter, go do that, they’re great. They’ve done some great things for great causes involving the Rangers too. If you haven’t heard the Atkinson story, ask them about it.
A few more housekeeping things, I won’t sugar coat anything, I have a strong opinion on everything and I could talk hockey for hours with just about anyone. Unless you’re a Penguins fan. After you’re done following True Blue and Full Tilt you can give me a follow on Twitter at @malber9 and the same Instagram if you wanna see Rangers pictures with cool filters. Same with Facebook but I try to keep that one a little more clean. I posted the 3 links right below.
Well…… that was fun. Until the end, that sucked. That still stings… even a week and a half later.
We got robbed a few times, we really did. But we also played the 5 on 5 penalty kill for far too long in crucial parts of games and managed to get through it (for the most part). For those of you who forgot whats happened over the last 10 months, let me recap it for you, because boy there has been a lot.
Rangers started the season badly, very badly; remember that 9-2 blowout loss to San Jose? That was embarrassing. Same with the 6-0 loss to the Ducks. People thought we were gonna suck at that point. Actually follow some people on Twitter who said AV should have been fired. Yeah, let’s fire a guy after 5 games, that makes sense. How about when Marty Biron was a NYR goalie rather than an NHL Network analyst? Remember Arron Asham? What happened to that guy?
November brought somewhere around 732,636,192,786,321 games in which the Rangers controlled the play and couldn’t buy a goal. December was bad. How bad? We managed to lose four straight home games to the Devils, Capitals, Predators and Jackets. 3 of those 4 teams missed the playoffs in 2013-14.
I went to the game at home against Columbus. Didn’t know if I was in MSG or a Manhattan morgue. Dancin Larry was pretty likely hammered that night, and his rant about the Rangers at the time should have been videotaped. I love Larry. If you don’t follow him on Twitter, you should. @TheDancinLarry
Just don’t try to dance like him…
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January brought a Rangers team that showed some life. They actually scored 7 goals twice in January. Maybe they forgot it wasn’t football for a minute. Also beat Chicago on the road. Actually, let me rephrase, Henrik Lundqvist beat Chicago on the road.
February brought the Olympic break. Beat the teams USA should have, lost to Canada like we should have. Didn’t have a legit scoring chance all game. Oshie beats Bobrovsky in a shootout, Callahan (still a Ranger) pissed off Russians, I hate Canada. That sums up the Olympics. Oh yeah, gold medal goaltending matchup was Lundqvist vs Price…. Hmmmmm
April brought a game against Boston, lost 6-3. Could have been 63-0. That was bad. Changes were coming. Who would have ever guessed Callahan was going? Anyone that knew he was asking for 7 million a year. LOL.
Moving on… welcome Marty St. Louis. I thought we overpaid for him (feel free to rip me for that one now). Rangers play a long string of teams with bad records, win most of them. Finished the regular season weak, played 2 playoff teams in final 11 games.
Welcome to the playoffs. Wanted Columbus, got Philly. Whatever. Someone named Ken Campbell wrote about how the Flyers were going to win the series. Who? You should know by now. Somehow let the Flyers take us to 7. How in the world did we do that? Carcillo and Pouliot score in game 7, Lundqvist wins the 3rd period, off to Pittsburgh.
Actually win game 1. Then stop playing, or got tired, or whatever excuse you want to make for those three games of mens league hockey we played. Down 3-1… and cue the Ken Campbell article (if you don’t know who I’m talking about, you definitely don’t have social media).
RIP Mrs. St. Louis. Rangers rally around Marty, win game 5 in Pittsburgh while ending the 4th longest playoffs PP goal drought in NHL history (cause we all saw the Rangers winning that game). Win game 6 at home, Lundqvist squirts Crosby with water after the period, and gets the same fine as Shawn Thornton got for squirting a player on the ice during the game (huge joke as far as I’m concerned).
Score 2 goals in 30 minutes in Pitt and let Hank be Hank around the 6 minute mark.
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Aaaaaand we’re off to Montreal. Cue another Ken Campbell article about how the Rangers run was going to end to the Habs.
Put up another touchdown in game one. Price got hurt (trip, slash, hook, whatever you want to call it, sticks don’t bend on their own around a guys legs) and was done for the series. This minor league dude dominated us for about 2 and a half games. Marty wins game 4 in OT. MSG goes crazy.
Game 5 was funny. Game 6 was Lundqvist saying “it’s done tonight.”
And the Rangers were off to the finals. 2-0 lead early game 1, Girardi turnover in OT when he seemed to trip over his own feet ended that one. Game 2 was going well until *cough cough* Lundqvist got smoked out of the crease by King on the Kings (fitting), Rangers lose on deflection in 2OT.
Never had a shot in game 3. Don’t know how Henrik and the snow pile pulled out game 4. Scored a PP goal in game 5, that was different. Brian Boyle sniped on Quick, cause we all saw that coming. Zucc gets a penalty for getting kneed, Gaborik ties game (that one hurt).
2 posts and a missed breakaway in OT, a turnover deep in their zone and Martinez scores on a rebound off a 3 on 2. Game, series, Cup. Bad rebound, bad back checking, bad defense, bad luck series.
And begin the offseason…… Notice I never said the name Rick Nash. He was invisible in this recap, just as he was in the playoffs.
But first, if you thought we were going to get there in October, February or even April, put your hand down and stop lying. Nobody saw that coming but boy did the Rangers put together a hell of a run. However, they must get over the highs and lows of the past two months quickly and regroup for next season (which happens to be starting a lot quicker than we’re used to) if we hope to be the first team to make the finals in back to back seasons since the Penguins and Red Wings had their back to back finals in 08 and 09.
I wrote one of these articles after the season ended last year, and kinda sorta ripped some of the moves Sather had made over the summer of 2012. You can read it if you’d like…..
Moves after summer 2012 were dumb. They really were, I stand by that. I went on record saying that I loved almost all of what he did in July of 2013, and those seemed to have work. Moore is awesome, gotta keep him. Same with Pouliot. His line has all sorts of chemistry.
Let me sum up free agency for us. Brassard gets Hagelin money. Kreider gets Stepan money. Boyle and Moore get the same and close to Hagelin cause let’s face it they’re the same player. Carcillo likely walks. Would like to see Pouliot back, at same money. Makes great plays, makes stupid plays. No middle ground. Stralman is back at Staal money. Either Moore or Diaz is back, other walks. Indifferent to Falk as long as Klein is around. We sign Daniel Winnik, although I’d kind of like to see us bring back Carcillo. He always helped us, when he wasn’t getting mugged by officials. Notice I didn’t mention the names Stastny, Thornton or Moulson? Stay away, very far away. Would not help us.
Richards got bought out. Let’s be honest, he could have scored 20 goals in the playoffs and he was gone before July 1st. Couldn’t afford to keep him on again. Became by default team captain and did a great job of handling very difficult situations. Can’t say enough good things about what he did off the ice for this team during the spring. And in game 7 against the Penguins, that goal was huge. And 2012. Thanks for 2012, Brad. Ran out of gas against LA, against a Richards that they had on the 4th line.
Vigneault had an amazing first year in New York. You could have asked me that prior to the Pittsburgh series and I would have said the same thing. To come into a brand new team, new staff, to shake up the team as much as we have the past year and to get the team playing like they did for a large part of the season, hats off to him. I really hope our assistants don’t get snaked, especially Ulf. He needs to stay, incorporated a lot of what Tortorella did but added the part of actually getting the puck out of our zone sometimes. Gotta think the players helped him with the shot blocking part.
Some prospects are going to become much bigger parts within this organization next year. McIlrath, Kristo, Fast, Miller, Lindberg, and Allen should all see some time in New York. JT Miller needs the legit shot that Kreider finally got this year. Once he does, he’s going to stay. He showed flashes of huge potential during his very short postseason run with the Rangers this year. One game? One of the Rangers best players in that game. Also showed flashes of having no clue where he was, that’s gonna happen.
Growing pains still happen with Stepan and Hagelin and Kreider. Not McDonagh, he’s a stud. Which reminds me, get ready for another American captain named Ryan come fall. Done deal as far as I’m concerned.
Buckle up, this team isn’t going away quite yet, although the window is starting to get smaller and smaller for this group of Rangers.