Oh man...can we just stay in Western Canada a little bit longer? This has been a fun road trip.
The New York Rangers took a nail-biter from the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night. Just kidding. They snuffed them out completely. At least early on they did. Most of the damage was done with a blitz of opportunistic attacks and Rick Nashy stuff. Rangers hockey. Lundqvist did his thing when score effect and fatigue took over. All-in-all, a good way to finish the trip. [Blueshirt Banter] [Matchsticks and Gasoline] [NHL] [NY Post] [Newsday] [NY Daily News] [Globe and Mail] [The Province] [CBC]
The even strength game flow, showing all 5v5 shot attempt differential, tells the story of how this one went. Rangers score 4, turtle up and peter out.
Calgary carries play for the final period plus, but it's largely stymied by the defensive shell and Hank. Having a big lead is nice. The all-situation shot charts below show how the Rangers simply sat back and blocked a lot of shots.
And finally, the 5v5 individual Corsi performances of each player. We want them more to the bottom right. Score-effect really skews things but look how Staal and Klein got chewed up a bit while they were on the ice.
The Flames are on a 5 game skid and appear to be free-falling. Things are catching up to them. You can't be a terrible possession team and not eventually suffer the consequences. [Flames Nation]
Rick Nashy stuff:
He's a...uhm...handful. He added a shorthanded goal because why not? Our old pal Evan Sporer pointed out this fun little nugget:
Pretty sure Nash has more shorthanded goals now than power play goals.— Evan Sporer (@ev_sporer) December 17, 2014
Update: 2 power play goals, 3 shorthanded goals for Nash. Fifteen 5v5 goals. So I was right.— Evan Sporer (@ev_sporer) December 17, 2014
Nash is right up at the top of my early Hart trophy list. Toss Rinne in there. Crosby. Getz. Stammer. Giordano. This team would've been a complete dumpster fire without Rick Nashy stuff during their struggles to start the season. What say you?
Derek Stepan continues his slow march back to Derek Stepan. He has really struggled in the shot attempt battle. In part because of line juggling maybe. But he looks like he is getting back into the swing of things offensively. And knowing Stepan, the defense will come eventually.
I LOVED this goal. Why was I so into it? Because it was a perfect example of what can make Step an elite player. Uber awareness and IQ mixed with patience and skill in tight spaces. He received a nifty pass from Martin St. Louis while moving at high speed on his back-hand, in the slot with a Flames defenseman beginning to engage. Lesser players would spin out towards the boards. Instead, he used the goal as a wedge to give himself space, saw that Ramo had no idea where he was headed, and recognized that there was no available slot pass. He then used his skill with the puck and great balance to deftly careen his momentum around the net and tuck it in. He did all of this in roughly 3 seconds. Watch it again. It's marvelous, and another example of why hockey is the most difficult sport in the world played by the best athletes. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
AV scratched John Moore, who appears to be in a timeshare with Matt Hunwick, that Hunwick is certainly winning. AV hinted at the season of his discontent with Moore. He hasn't done a lot to help his cause. [NY Post]
Meanwhile, Derick Brassard is awaiting results of blood work. All indications are mumps. We assume mumps. I don't know. Maybe he has polio. Who knows at this point. The NHL is incubating infectious diseases, so why not? Brassard is out with polio. You heard it here first. (He has the mumps). He got his booster late because he was already sick and they wanted to raise his immunity, or something. I'm not a doctor. Neither is the media. He's got the mumps. [NY Daily News] [Newsday]
Mats Zuccarello discussed the "Stanley Cup Loss Hangover" and coming back from that experience. As great as it was that they got there, losing hurts and you never know if you will have that opportunity again. I think Mats wants to stay a Ranger. Please make sure he stays a Ranger, Slats. Please don't do this to me. I can't handle it two years in a row. [NY Daily News]
The KHL is having some real cash flow problems, in part resulting from the steep decline in the ruble (russia money). With a number of teams literally penniless (rubiless?), the timing for NHL expansion talk becomes even more curious. [Puck Daddy]
The Caps and Panthers had a 20 round shootout. The longest ever. Check it out here:
Dan Boyle Face Caption Contest: Dan Boyle makes funny faces. You guys make funny captions. Here were three of my favorite, along with my most favoritest.
Yea. That deal.
Even teammates don't know when it ends.
Saying that one in Arnold Schwarzenegger voice is very pleasing. That's how my mind says it.
And the winner because holy crap...
YES. That spawned this:
@NMercad Nightmare fuel.— Dave Hollenberg (@hollenbeezy) December 17, 2014
@NMercad I must use this— Dan Fucking Girardi (@FuckingGirardi) December 17, 2014
Dan Girardi face.