Playoff Predictions: Round One

2014 contenders for Lord Stanley

2014 contenders for Lord Stanley

Here at BSB, we’re always using “expertise” and “knowledge” and “total guesses” to bring you news and our views on goings on around the Rangers organization and all around the NHL. A few of us have broken down our individual predictions for each of the Round 1 playoff series. We’ll be doing this as each round advances. Enjoy.

Detroit vs Boston

Kevin’s Pick: Bruins in 7. I love the way the Red Wings are playing right now and probably would have taken them over any other team in the Eastern Conference, but this is a nightmare matchup for Detroit.

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Rangers sign Mat Bodie out of Union College

Apologies for the delay on this one. Yesterday was one of those rare days where all of us got dumped on at work, and none of us could post on this.

The Rangers signed undrafted free agent defenseman Mat Bodie out of Union College yesterday, just days after leading his team to a National Championship. As a senior at Union, Bodie put up a line of 8-31-39 in 40 games. In his college career, Bodie put together a line of 28-96-124 in 154 games, impressive numbers for a kid who entered college at 6’0 and 165 lbs.

His size is why he went undrafted, but Julie Robenhymer notes that he is at least 15 pounds heavier since he entered college. Chris Peters, one of the best US hockey bloggers out there, compared him to Torey Krug of the Bruins.

Bodie’s signing adds a true offensive defenseman to the prospect pool for the Rangers. With Bodie, Conor Allen, Brady Skjei, and Dylan McIlrath in the system, the Rangers have done quite the job of restocking their defensive prospects after seeing so many graduate to the NHL.

A different way of looking at special teams statistics

Derek Stepan tallied 18 power play points this season and added three shorthanded assists to lead the team

The Rangers went on a bizarre tear in March in which they scored on seven of 41 shorthanded situations, yet managed just five goals in 45 of their own power play opportunities. Obviously that was just a weird anomaly, but it made me realize that the traditional ways of measuring special teams – power play and penalty kill percentages – might not be the best way to assess their impact on winning and losing.

We all know what a huge impact special teams have on individual hockey games, but noting what rate a team’s power play has scored at and how often a penalty kill has surrendered goals over the course of a long season seems kind of silly. The percentage stats put way too much stock on what happened in October, which has no bearing on the present. Plus, those percentage stats don’t factor in shorthanded goals for and against, and we just saw how crucial those were to the Rangers’ success.

Power plays are constantly affected by the same factors that influence many other stats – hot streaks, injuries and dumb luck. Even the worst power play in the league can get red-hot for stretches, while a unit featuring five All-Stars can suffer a lengthy drought. The same goes for PK units. Read more »

Why the Rangers need to address the center position this summer

Derek Stepan is awful at face-offs. It needs addressing.

Derek Stepan is awful at face-offs. It needs addressing.

Not a single team currently ranked lower than the Rangers in face-off percentage this year will be in the playoffs. The last four Stanley Cup Champions (Chicago (twice), LA and Boston) rank 5th, 3rd and 8th respectively in face-off success. All three of the Rangers centers relied on for their offense – Derick Brassard, Derek Stepan and Brad Richards (so, not Dom Moore and Brian Boyle) – have less than a 50% success rate, with Stepan winning a paltry 45.2% of his face offs. Can you see the point we’re trying to make?

When Brad Richards leaves the Rangers this summer, the team must ensure his replacement(s) count face-off ability among their skill sets. Face-off weakness is also one why reason why Derick Brassard being retained isn’t a guarantee. Aside from resolving Marc Staal’s contract situation this summer, perhaps the biggest focus for the Rangers needs to be acquiring proven face-off centermen.

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Rangers recall J.T. Miller

The Rangers have recalled forward J.T. Miller from the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. Since the Pack did not make the playoffs, their season is over, and Miller can benefit from watching the games as a healthy scratch. Miller will sit with fellow “rookie” Ryan Haggerty and the other healthy scratches as part of the taxi squad for this year’s playoffs. Don’t expect Miller to get any ice time, unless the Rangers are overcome with injuries to their forwards.

Zipay: Kreider may be ready for second round

Per Steve Zipay, injured winger Chris Kreider will likely miss the first round of the playoffs, but should be ready for the second round should the Rangers advance:

Chris Kreider (surgery on left hand March 28) is progressing and the 17-goal scorer should be ready if the Rangers advance to the second round.

This means that the Rangers will need to dress Jesper Fast (or Dan Carcillo) for the entirety of the first round.

Fast or Carcillo: Lineup decision plays key role

Fast has played well so far. (Photo: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Fast has played well so far. (Photo: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

When Chris Kreider went down with his hand injury, the Rangers were left with a problem in their top-six forwards. There were few options to fill in for Kreider, and none that could provide the scoring threat that Kreider provides on a nightly basis. Dan Carcillo has been a pleasant surprise, and Jesper Fast has held his own in his call up this week. Since J.T. Miller is not ready to take on this role, it comes down to Fast or Carcillo.

Acquired for a 7th round pick, Carcillo has been one of those pickups that went under the radar but reaped many rewards for the Rangers. Originally thought to be redundant with Arron Asham in Hartford, Carcillo has fit in nicely with the fourth line. The fourth line continued chugging along with Carcillo in for the then-injured Derek Dorsett. Once Dorsett returned, Carcillo bounced around the lineup, most recently filling in for Kreider on both the top line and second line.

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First round schedule

The NHL has announced the schedule for the first round, which begins Thursday at MSG:

  • Game 1: Thursday 4/17 – 7PM  | MSG
  • Game 2: Sunday 4/20 – 12PM  | NBCSN
  • Game 3: Tuesday 4/22 – 8PM  | MSG
  • Game 4: Friday 4/25 – 7PM  |MSG
  • Game 5: Sunday 4/27 – 12PM | NBCSN
  • Game 6: Tuesday 4/29 – TBD  | MSG
  • Game 7: Wednesday 4/30 – TBD  | MSG

First Round Playoff Preview: Rangers vs. Flyers

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

War is upon us. On the eve of War. The Rangers set to battle Philly. Pretty much every title for this post I could think of had the word ‘battle’ or ‘war’ in it. Nothing against Ottawa, DC, or other markets we have squared off with in recent first rounds, but Philadelphia brings a different connotation.

The history of this rivalry is too long and colorful to recap in one post and certainly no one needs a history lesson here. However, for the first time since 1997, these two teams will have a chance to send each other home packing. And unlike other potential playoff matchups, this one could get theatrical.

No matter who has the GM title, who’s behind the bench, or what players suit up in orange, black and white, the identity of the Flyers remains the same.  However, unlike I-95 wars of seasons past, the Rangers have to stay within their team concept and not stoop down to their level. They have to stick to their game plan.

Offense:

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End of the Regular Season Musings/Awards

John is angry

As we’ve hit the final day of the regular season, it’s time to look back and think about surprise teams, great plays and big news from around the league.  As our boys in blue look ahead to opening up the playoffs against Philly Thursday night, several teams around the league are getting their golf equipment ready and leaving hockey for the summer.  Of those teams are nearly all of the Canadian teams (except for Montreal) and a bevy of shocked fanbases. Ahead is a season reflective musings for this sunny Sunday on the East Coast.

Worst Display by a Fanbase: The Edmonton Oilers had an absolutely abysmal season, finishing with just 67 points after acquiring a new head coach (Dallas Eakins) and a new captain (Andrew Ference) in the offseason.  In an effort to show their displeasure with the team, a fan decided to throw their sweater on the ice. Twice. Goalie Ben Scrivens voiced how disrespectful that is, which it is, as it shows a lack of appreciation for all of those years that the teams before the 2014 squad had won. Scary thought: the Oilers wouldn’t even be the worst team if they played in the East. Scarier thought: when their talent clicks and they start to do well. I wish I was tech-savvy and could embed the video, instead, watch it here.

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