By Neil Keefe
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The Rangers are still searching for the first win of the young season. Well they were. They got that elusive first win last night in their fourth game of the season, in their third different time zone in those four games. But when I wrote this (or most of this) they were still part of the Winless Club whose only other member was and still is the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Hahahaha, losers!)
The Rangers are winless no more. They got their first win of the season while most of the East Coast was sleeping, early on Wednesday morning. Luckily for those that missed it, I wasn’t sleeping and decided to capture the moment by writing down my thoughts from the Rangers-Canucks game as the third period started.
At the time I didn’t know the Rangers were going to win. I just knew that it was 0-0 after two periods even though the Canucks were playing Occupy The Offensive Zone and dominating the Rangers. And I just knew that the last time I did one of these “sort of live blogs,” A.J. Burnett beat the Red Sox and if I can create miracles like that then I might as well try to will the Rangers to their first win of the season.
I’m not sure what to call this recap from the game other than just calling it a “recap” since it isn’t a live blog even though it kind of is. So if you missed the Rangers erasing that goose egg in the win column in the standings because you thought sleeping was more important, I have kindly picked apart the third period for you.
Let’s pick it up with the end of the second period…
The second period ended with Sam Rosen saying, “Henrik Lundqvist has been superb through two periods. He has faced 28 shots and stopped them all.” So yeah, if you didn’t stay up to watch the game, it pretty much went as many Rangers games do: Henrik Lundqvist stands on his head and the Rangers can’t score.
To get you up to speed: The Rangers have been outshot 28-9 through two periods (no, that isn’t a typo) and they are 0-for-2 on the power play while the Canucks are 0-for-5. Dan Girardi has played 39:56 of the 40 minutes so far. Just kidding, but not really. Girardi has played well over half of the game and the Rangers have really had zero actual scoring chances. The Canucks, on the other hand, have a scoring chance every 12 seconds. If anyone other than Lundqvist were in goal it would be 7-0 Canucks right now. I think that’s all you need to know about the first two periods.
I know it’s proper etiquette to write how much time has expired in the period when talking about hockey, but it’s easier to just write the time on the scoreboard. So that’s what I’m going to do. The timestamps are the times on the board during the third period.
The third period starts at 12:01 a.m. EST. (Somewhere Mark Teixeira is tucked into bed dreaming of getting a hit with runners in scoring position.)
19:36: The Canucks are such an unlikable team. Roberto Luongo, the Sedins, Alexandre Burrows, Kevin Bieksa, Keith Ballard, Maxim Lapierre, etc. Look at these guys. Actually I can’t stand looking at them without thinking about their choke job in the Stanley Cup finals last year after taking a 2-0 lead against the Bruins and losing Game 7 on home ice. Because of them the image of Zdeno Chara holding the Cup will never be erased from my memory. Thanks, Vancouver!
19:29: Brad Richards just misses giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead with a feed across the front of the crease. I really don’t now how he missed either. I really like Richards. Sure he may or may not have the equivalent of an A-Rod contract in the NHL (a nine-year deal starting at the age of 31), but through three-plus games he has been a positive free agent signing for Glen Sather. There have been only a handful of those over the years. No, really. I can count them on my fingers using only my right hand.
19:02: Luongo sloppily plays the puck behind his net. I love seeing Luongo make terrible decisions and fail. Does that make me a bad person? No. Calling out Tim Thomas during the finals and then actually being the reason your team loses makes you a bad person.
Seriously, there is nothing to like about Luongo. I hate his all-white helmet and his all-white pads. I hate that these he seems to be a Vezina finalist every season even though last year during the finals, Luongo talked about being pulled for Cory Schneider and said about Schneider, “He’s just as good as I am and it doesn’t matter who’s in net.” Let’s continue to consider him to be the best goalie in the league!
18:42: Sam Rosen tells us, “Girardi has nearly 20 minutes of playing time through two periods.” I’m not sure how long this can go on for. Hurry back, Marc Staal.
17:53: Sam drops in a subtle, “The Rangers are looking for their first win of the season.” Thanks, Sam. I wasn’t aware. I’m not up watching them and live blogging (sort of) my thoughts in an attempt to end this three-game losing streak to open the season for no reason.
17:38: Michael Del Zotto takes a shot on Luongo form the top of the circles and like Luongo does, he gives up a huge rebound that Mike Rupp puts home. 1-0 Rangers. That’s right! The Rangers have scored a goal! Go buy a Powerball ticket! NOW!
When I was a junior in high school I went to see the Devils play the Wild on Feb. 9, 2003. Rupp was on the Devils at the time and looked so terrible during warmups that my dad said, “That guy will be getting scratched.” Sure enough before the start of the first period, Rupp was announced as a healthy scratch. Exactly four months later he scored the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals for the Devils against the Ducks.
17:10: It hasn’t even been 30 seconds of playing time since the Rangers took a 1-0 lead and the Vancouver crowd sounds exactly like they sounded last year in June: silent. Joe Michelleti exclaims, “The crowd is stunned!” So am I, Joe. So am I. Who isn’t? The Rangers have been outshot 107-9 and they have the lead.
16:59: Lundqvist just faced four shots from the slot in a span of 1.7 seconds and stopped them all as the Canucks seemed to be playing “Rebound” while the Rangers stood around and watched. Every year that goes by without Lundqvist winning the Vezina is another is another year of one big joke. If he had spent his career on the Red Wings they would have won the last five Cups. And if he were on the Flyers the last two years, the Flyers would be going for a three-peat this year. Instead the Flyers blew up their whole team because they didn’t have a goalie.
15:51: Brandon Prust gets an assist after being benched for his penalties and then gets another penalty for hitting for boarding. Maybe Prust can be the new Sean Avery and be the guy who takes dumb penalties at inopportune times.
15:10: Girardi knocks down a shot and is on the ice flopping around. How is he still on the ice? I’m not complaining. I’m just wondering.
15:03: Ryan Kesler ends the Canucks power play by taking a penalty. I love Kesler. Any chance we can trade Francisco Cervelli and a minor leaguer for Kesler. (I realize that trading MLB players for NHL players might be a problem, but that’s not what this joke is about.) It’s 4-on-4 time!
14:29: The Canucks are dominating the 4-on-4 play. I have checked the score bar three times to make sure they aren’t on a two-man advantage. Nope. It’s 4-on-4 and they are peppering Lundqvist like its warmups. But hey, Roberto Luongo is better!
13:51: The Rangers penalty ends and they are on a brief power play. What, no “This Rangers power play is brought to you by Volkswagen”? How long is Volkswagen going to keep sponsoring an unsuccessful power play? That can’t be good for advertising or branding. “Hey, we represent a power play that never works! Come check out our new Jettas! Don’t worry, our Jettas work fine.”
13:39: That didn’t last long. Del Zotto goes off for tripping. The camera pans to John Tortorella who looks like he ate Burger King and Chipotle right before the game and it’s finally catching up with him. It’s going to be hard to leave Vancouver with a win at the rate the Rangers are taking penalties.
13:22: The Sedins blow a near odd-man rush and a chance to tie the game. The crowd does a collective, “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” There aren’t many things, if any, that are better than sports than when an entire NHL home crowd goes, “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” after their team misses a scoring chance. I hate the Sedins.
12:58: No one told Brandon Dubinsky that the Rangers are on the penalty kill. That’s why he just tried to skate through the entire Canucks team like Bobby Orr and lost the puck just inside their zone. The Canucks get the puck up the ice, but screw up the rare 4-on-2.
11:39: We’re at back at full strength and the Rangers are 7-for-7 on the penalty kill. When things like that are happening, you know you’re going to win. At least that’s what I keep telling myself as I watch the clock move in slow motion. These last 11-plus minutes aren’t going to be easy.
11:18: More saves from the King! The shots are 38-13 in favor of the Canucks, but the Rangers have a 1-0 lead. Is John Sterling in the building?
10:27: Lundqvist gloves it. A commercial break! Finally! The sum of my words heart rate, words per minute and King Henrik saves is 4,329. I never needed a TV timeout so badly. Sam takes us into the break with an emphatic, “Henrik Lundqvist … STOPPING THEM ALL!” I’m fired up.
MSG comes out of break with highlights from the last time the Rangers won in Vancouver. It was Oct. 11, 1997. Wayne Gretzky had a hat trick for the Blueshirts and Mark Messier was on the Canucks. Over 14 years ago the Rangers last won here. The NHL needs to do something about scheduling. There’s no reason every team shouldn’t play every team in the league once at home and once on the road every season. It’s ridiculous and nonsensical.
9:57: Holy Sh-t! Holy Sh-t! Holy Sh-t! (And I said it just like Buster Olney does in that Yankees-Diamondbacks 2001 World Series documentary on HBO.) Ryan McDonagh does a give-and-go with Dubinsky and rockets a one-timer past a sliding Luongo. It all started because the Sedins couldn’t get it out of the zone on the boards and it ends because Luongo made his short side a little too big. The Rangers score their second goal of the game (this is a miracle) at the hands of the faces of the Canucks. I love it. Joe reminds us, “The Rangers with an unlikely 2-0 lead!”
9:00: Nine minutes until victory. Kill the clock!
8:30: Ruslan Fedotenko does a variation of the Gretzky Delay and pulls up on the right boards, feeds Brian Boyle flying into the slot and Boyle goes top shelf on Luongo. 3-0 Rangers! I don’t want to go Al Michaels on you and drop a, “Do you believe in miracles?!?!?!?!” but we are getting there. Roberto Luongo is awesome.
7:40: More juicy rebounds from Luongo. Is it the 2010 Olympics?
5:58: The Rangers are playing their best and most inspired hockey of the season. Now I’m beginning to think they took a page out of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey’s book and crushed some third-period rally beers during the intermission.
5:53: A commercial! I need it. I’m sweating. How about MSG doing a 20-part series on the Knicks’ “1994 March to the Finals.” The Knicks lost the series! This is Red Sox “Impossible Dream” BS. The Rangers and/or Knicks need to win in the very near future. I can’t take anymore 1994 documentaries and I think MSG is running out of footage to use and might just start making up stuff soon like, “Coming to MSG this winter … a 42-part series … watch every shift of Brian Leetch’s from the 1994 playoffs. Only on MSG!” It’s time to start making new memories.
5:04: A lot of open seats in Vancouver as the crowd tries to beat the traffic. Is there traffic in Vancouver? Every scenic shot used makes the place look so beautiful and happy and carefree that I can’t picture traffic there. It would just ruin it.
3:58: Kill the clock!
3:01: Rupp and Keith Ballard go at in open ice and then again on the boards and now Rupp is getting a penalty for nothing. No really, he’s getting a penalty for noting. This isn’t me having a Jack Edwards or Andy Brickley “homer” moment. The replay shows he did nothing. It’s the eighth power play for the Canucks. Nothing to see here. Just another man advantage for the Canucks.
2:44: Dubinsky and Kevin Bieksa go at it and drop the gloves up against the glass in the corner to Luongo’s left. The two fall and showing class, Bieksa throws a few quick ones as they are on the ice and tangled up with the refs. It all started because Bieksa lined Dubinsky up behind the net without possession of the puck. It was either perfectly timed and Bieksa was finishing his check or he is going to be getting a “$$$ LOL” text message from Brendan Shanahan after the game.
Joe captured the moment perfectly during the replay by saying, “Sam, Dubinsky looked at him and he said, ‘Oh, it’s you…” And that is what happened. Dubinsky was going to follow the play, but realized it was Bieksa and decided to fight. Joe’s take on the moment made me think of John Mason (Sean Connery) in The Rock finding out FBI Director James Womack (John Spencer) is behind the one-way mirror. “Womack! Why am I not surprised, you piece of sh-t!”
2:21: Richards delays just inside the zone, passes to McDonagh who dangles his way through the slot and slides it across the crease to Marian Gaborik who bangs it home. 4-0 Rangers! Do you believe in mira…. Nevermind. But this is still absurd.
1:00: “One minute remaining in the third period. One minute.”
0:00: A 40-save shutout form Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers have their first win in Vancouver since Gretzky scored a hat trick there over 14 years ago.
I guess I can stop worrying. The Rangers won’t be winless on Halloween or entering November.
Follow Neil on Twitter @NeilKeefe