One of my favorite aspects of last year's Rangers team was the closeness of the players. They seemed like a group that generally cared for each other and it showed on the ice as they always had each other's back.
This year has been a different story. Time and time again I've been left disappointed with the Rangers lack of response to an opponent taking liberties with a teammate. The 2013 version of the Rangers have seemed more like a collection of individuals than a 'team.'
But that all changed with one dirty, disgusting hit from behind by Patrick Kaleta on Brad Richards...
In that instant, while watching one their leaders fallen on the ice, the Rangers became one. From that point on this team played with passion and emotion for the first time this season. They wanted to make Kaleta and Buffalo pay and nothing was going to stop them. It was amazing to see.
Neill called it a possible turning point of the season during his recap last night, similar to the Joe Thornton "soft" comment last year, and he might be right. I've been waiting for the Rangers to find something to rally around all year and by judging from the players' reaction after the game that might have been it.
And while the Rangers weren't able to get physical retribution on Kaleta due to his game misconduct, the Blueshirts still play the Sabres two more times this season, so you can be assured payback is inevitable.
Oh yeah, and I'm glad to see Richards was ok. Although the Rangers looked much better on the power play when he was being tended to in the locker room. Too soon?
Here's John Tortorella...
"It's probably one of the most dangerous hits I've seen. Same guys. It's ridiculous. I'm glad we made them pay. It's disgusting. It's a lack of respect. Yeah, each team wants to beat the other team, but you need to respect what's going on, on the ice."
Here's full video of Torts...
Here's Marc Staal (via Blueshirts United)...
“It was a cheap hit. The biggest thing is that you want to hurt hem and we were able to get two (goals). It doesn't do that hit any kind of justice, but it was nice to score on the power play.”
More player reaction...
Say Again? Ottawa just owned us in the 2nd half of the 3rd period on home ice. Plus we looked sad against the Isle's Nash is the only one getting it done right now.
The Rangers came out with more gusto in the 3rd period (they had no where to go but up) so I don't think it was just the hit alone that turned the game around, they already looked like a different team before that happened but look, thankfully Brad's OK. I don't think that alone is going to turn this team around but it should help. We have a lot of warriors and heart on this team. We forget that because only a handful have demonstrated this thus far. We have an amazing capt'n who leads by example and more and more Rangers are starting to believe and play with heart and passion now. Maybe next game even Gabby will hit somone lol. Very lackluster start this season but they will get better as the season moves along.
Mike Brown would have been a nice addition - that guy throws mad rapid fire bombs - looks like Oilers got him
Getting tired of people demanding an "enforcer." You only need a stockpile of enforcers when you get a lot of fighting majors, which the Rangers haven't been doing. Get it? We don't need a "let's dance with another useless fighter" clown anymore.
Oh yeah, how well did Brashear work out? And Boogaard? Colton Orr was great, right? You all wanted to run Mike Rupp out of town before he was traded. Gimme a break, guys. These people are a waste of space. One thing I would support is if Torts calls back up Mashinter and tells him to do his damn job. Unlike Bickel, he can actually skate and score, plus he's got a mean streak and can fight if need be. Asham, once he's healthy, is a perfect 4th line bruiser who actually has some skills.
The thing is about these shitty fighters, is that our players aren't getting run every single game. If someone gets run, there should be someone to answer for us, and that someone should be able to play hockey well enough to deserve a regular roster spot. Sometimes I wish Brian Boyle had cajones.
As much as I agree about physical payback on Kaleta next time these teams face each other, let's face reality. Who is going to administer it? Asham, Bickel??? Gurantee Buffalo suits up Scott for the next game to deter the Rangers from going after Kaleta. Which brings me to my next point ... This will continue happening unless the Rangers have a heavyweight on their roster. I'm not saying to suit him up every game but if they had someone who could go toe to toe with the other heavyweights in this league other teams might think twice about running our guys.
2 games. This is one that Shanny cannot ignore - no calls for us vs chris neil , pacioretty malkin wood chopping incident and the list goes on- Richards may wake up with some problems we don't know about and I'm sure they will be asking about his health beyond finishing that game. Hopefully he's ok.
If the league is at all serious about eliminating head or dangerous injuries, Kaleta gets a minimum of 5 games. Regardless of whether or not Richards came back, that play could easily end someone's career or even life. It's ridiculous and has no place whatsoever in hockey or any other sport. That being said, he probably gets a $500 fine. Hopefully I'm wrong.
BTW Kevin, it's not too soon. That hit was Richards' biggest contribution so far this season...LOL! Of course I wouldn't be so glib if he was seriously hurt, but it would still be true.
The Rangers did the right thing handling the situation the way they did, which enabled them to get two goals. From my perspective, however, I would rather one of the guys say, "screw the PP" and go after Kaleta and beat the crap out of him right then and there, but that's just me. We'll see what happens the next time the two teams meet. While all of this was going on last night, I was having an exchange with a FB Friend over how much the Rangers miss Prust, who has been a big part of the Montreal turnaround.
It's great how allot of us Ranger fans think alike...I was saying the same thing last night to people that this is What the Rangers might need to turn this team around..Glad Richie's ok and I hope Kaleta gets what's coming to him......Even last night before the hit the Rangers were not being physical and weren't doing the dirty work on the offensive zone, it definitely woke their ass up.....Bring on Philly....LETS GO RANGERS
Kaleta took a run a Nash earlier in the game - guy is a scumbag. I hope this guy pays and gets a real suspension from the league. He better watch his back next time we play Buffalo. Richards should've stayed in the locker room though, only going to help Kaleta's case.
Glad to see Callahan and DZ get in their faces following the hit. Also good to see Nash try to go after Kaleta as he was being escorted off the ice. Hopefully this is the turning point to get the ball rolling on the true team concept and getting back to consistently playing Rangers hockey.
Also I loved the Stepan stare down, he is coming into his own, and starting to be a leader, at 22, on this team already.
@TheNYRBlog @NHLShanahan will prob let kaleta get away w it. He is bitter towards the rangers. ie Neil, paccioretty
It sucks that because Richards came back and played, they're going to be significantly more lenient with him. I wish they would have agreed on having a third party review these in the new CBA.
@coontzbloontz I agree. Enforcers are dinosaurs and pretty much useless. What's the point of having your big guy fight another team's big guy? The Proberts and McSorely's of the world (heavyweights that could actually keep up with top 6 forwards) are gone. They have been replaced with guys like Prust and Clarkson, smaller guys that will drop the gloves but are still hockey players. Asham could probably fit into that category if he can stay on the ice. It's not about going up against the other team's heavyweights. I love to see a fight as much as anyone, but it means so much more and gets fans pumped so much more when it's got a meaning behind it. If the Rangers play the Sabres at the Garden and Torts puts Asham out against Kaleta and he proceeds to pummel him, that would get the Garden going a lot more than if Bickel and Scott had a hug-fest. The problem is finding the guys that are effective at both fighting and hockey. Maybe the contract to Prust wasn't so bloated after all.
@coontzbloontz Orr was great and it mwas because of him that it was less likely that star players got run. You want a player that can throw down like a heavyweight AND play really good hockey.. How many players are that in the league that are remotely available? I agree Asham is somewhat of a bust due to injury but the last few games he's been in the line up he has shown that he can actually skate and handle the puck. Not a liability in that department. You want a Lucic caliber player - well so do I but it's a rare bird
@coontzbloontz Not sure if you read my post and your post is in reply to mine and others but I will say this: I agree with everything you wrote and I by no means would want a player in the lineup who can ONLY fight. That is a goon/enforcer. I call for a capable NHL players with skills/enforcer. I also thought Mashinter could be that guy but let's face a few facts. 1. Rangers do NOT have an enforcer. 2. As tough and gutsy as Asham has been over his career he cannot go with a heavyweight. He's a middleweight. 3. The way this lineup is playing out now, if they were to call up Mashinter which will not happen, they, in my opinion, could only sit one of the following 2. Asham or Boyle. I say this under the assumption that Asham is back healthy. So with that said, who in this lineup with the exception of Asham "can" drop the gloves when needed??? Here's your answer, NO ONE! Nash, Richards, Hagelin, Callahan, Stepan, Pyatt, Miller, Boyle, Gaborik, Powe, Halpern, Staal, Girardi, McDonagh, Stralman, Del Zotto and Eminger/Gilroy cannot fight. Yes, will Cally, Boyle drop the gloves? Sure. Do we want Cally dropping gloves and sitting 5 mins? No. Boyle? Can't fight to save his life. My frustration and thought seem in line with yours. Either the 6th dman or 12th forward should be a tough as nails skater with skills that can drop the gloves so that the Rangers have someone to police the other team on the ice.
@chrisD He returned to the game and played well after the hit, that shouldn't play a role in the decision but we all know what happens when it's a hit against the Rangers. He should get 5 games at the least since he is a repeat offender but I'm not holding my breathe on that.
@Dudeinski can't wait for the Philly game, both teams are clicking right now and a win would be huge. It's going to be a war
@CareyBrandsdorfer an independent arbitrator can be called in for an appeal process if the suspension is more than 6 games, so in this case it could have worked to the NHL's disadvantage if they suspend him more than 5 games, as it could have been overturned to a penalty of a lesser extent.
I think he deserves more than a 5 game suspension, but I will be happy if the NHL gives him the maximum of 5 games since this is a phone hearing; it gives Kaleta the harshest penalty without the possibility of a third party arbitrator to lessen the penalty. But if they don't, I'll be shaking my head in disbelief, this is another perfect opportunity for the NHL to show how much they value player safety.
@RyanMC I know - the cynic in me still says Shanny is bitter about NYR not picking up the last year of his contract. Still he can't ignore this hit and Richards is not practicing and he may very well be hurt - I seriously hope not but sometimes these things take a few days.