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Musings Day; Devils, Sabres and Stags

February 2, 2012, by

It’s a musings day once again, and it’s the day after a game day. A Trip to Buffalo. Without further delay, let’s get into it. After all, I have a stag weekend to attend.

The Rangers loss to the Devils; there was still a lot to like. The way they conceded the tying goal hurts, but ask the Phoenix fans about Brad Richards’ game winner a few weeks back and it just shows that luck comes and goes.

The thing that most stood out for me in the Devils game was the amount of high quality chances the Rangers created/had. Credit Brodeur for making several top quality saves but it’s been a while since the Rangers had this many quality chances in one game. Again though it comes down to one thing: conversion.

It’s time to start worrying about Brad Richards. He had a few peaks and valleys through the season but he’s probably playing his worst hockey of the year at the moment. Some people suggest an injury but I’m not sure what to think. One thing is sure though, there’s not a single aspect of his game that’s firing right now. He needs to be better and quickly.

That stag weekend I’m attending? Anarchy is planned. Sunday night will be the peak; Cuban’s, whisky and Superbowl all in abundance. I’m the only Giants fan amongst Miami, Packers, Bears, Buccs and Chiefs fans. Luckily there is no Pats fan although I’m pretty confident my friends will be rooting for the Pats to spite me. And yes, there really is a Chiefs fan here in the UK.

Carl Hagelin has played 15 games less than Brandon Dubinsky this season and is only 3 points behind his considerably richer teammate.

You want an example of how Del Zotto is improving defensively this year? In the first period against the Sabres, his positional play on Kassian was excellent. He kept Kassian out of Lundqvist’s line of sight and allowed Lundqvist to see the shot all the way, making it an easy stop for the goalie. Subtle but solid play from Del Zotto.

How can the Rangers survive subpar seasons from the likes of Anisimov, Richards and Dubinsky? 13 different players have game winners for the Rangers this season. Clutch contributions all over the roster.

Someone had a great statistic on twitter during the All Star game: Marian Gaborik has scored on 8 of his last 17 shots on Henrik Lundqvist. Wow.

Derek Stepan is going through a period recently where he simply cannot get on the score sheet, much like Anisimov. The difference? Stepan is still making plays as evidenced by his great chance in the overtime period against the Devils. How often have you noticed Anisimov make such a notable offensive contribution (regardless of end result). You don’t. I’ve always worried about the influence Anisimov’s fragile confidence has on his game. When he’s on he looks like a potential star but when he’s off, well he’s almost a waste of a roster spot. If this poor stretch goes on much longer his Rangers career may be in threat.

Sometimes it’s the little things that tell you about a player. During the Devils game Ryan McDonagh got to the puck before a Devil to get the icing call. His body positioning was exceptional and there was no way the Devil was getting to the puck first despite coming in quick. McDonagh rarely makes mistakes, is a very heady player and simply put, is a revelation, although you already knew that.

It’s amazing the Rangers haven’t missed Mike Sauer more. Huge credit has to go to the team’s overall commitment to defense– the team wide mindset, as well as the blueline corps. One of the THN writers questioned this week whether this ‘inexperienced blueline’ can keep it going. I have no concerns especially when you factor in Marc Staal getting back to his best.

Mats Zuccarello had a 3 point game in the AHL All Star game. Just saying…..


  1. scrangersfan says:

    Looks like my prediction of being against signing Richard for a huge contract is coming true. He must pick up his production or we’ll be faced with another Wolsky.We need to score more goals and Richards is a big part of it. Hope he proves me wrong and will start earning his 8 million ayear contract. Lets go Rangers!!!!!!!!!

    • Chris says:

      He’s not producing just yet but it’s too far to compare him to Wolski (in any form) or question the acquisition at all.

      He’s still third in goals and as some people have rightly said, he’s not been brought to NY to perform mid season – he’s here for bigger things….

      … that said, he does need to get going sooner rather than later.

      • scrangersfan says:

        I guess I’am just frustrated with him. He is getting big bucks just to perform in the playoffs. I did not mean to compare him with Wolsky. He need to pick it up so Lundvist does not have to stand on his head to make saves every game. A couple of extra goals would help take off some of the pressure. The same goes for Dubi and anisomov.(THOUGH THEY MAKE A LOT LESS THEN RICHARDS.)Richards is in the Malkin,ovechkin category but does not produce like them. A huge part of the salary cap is eaten up by his contract.

        • Justin says:

          “Richards is in the Malkin,ovechkin category but does not produce like them”

          to be fair SC, as far as cap hits go, Richards is not being paid like either one of those guys. Malkin carries an 8.7 million cap hit and OV carries a ridiculous 9.5 million hit. Richards contract is front loaded and his cap hit is only 6.6 million per year. Not chump change, obviously but he was brought here for a different purpose.

          Malking and OV are pure goal scorers whose secondary skills aren’t as important. Richards came here to be an elite passer, veteran leader and responsible defensive forward who can bank 25-30 goals per year. Its a different skill set.

          • scrangersfan says:

            While I respect your pinion Justin,I still think he needs to be more productive then he is now.As The Suit said in his post,Richards should be more consistent.We already have a streaky player in Gabi. Who happens to be one of my favored players.

            • Justin says:

              I do agree with the general premise SC. I think that Richards does need to play much better in order to satisfy the role he was brought here to play. I just wanted to point out that the comparison between him and the guys you mentioned was a little unfair to him.

              Just wanted to point that out, but like I said, I do agree with your dissatisfaction with his overall play

              • scrangersfan says:

                Your point is well taken Justin,I for one had expected much more from him the he’s so far produced, but it’s just me everyone can agree or disagree with me I respect that.

          • RangerSmurf says:

            “Richards came here to be an elite passer, veteran leader and responsible defensive forward who can bank 25-30 goals per year. Its a different skill set.”

            He’s not irresponsible, but Richards is anything but a defensive forward. I’d also change 25-30 to 25ish, since 30 is not a realistic goal for him, but that’s a nitpick of epic proportions.

    • Pete says:

      TBH, he will never “earn” his contract, but we should all be ok with that by now. Having said, yes, he needs to be more, however it is that you define the word.

    • ArtyFan says:

      8ml a year? Where did you got this number? Did you like his GW goals this season? Most favorites in WC and vs. Yotes with 00:00.01 sec left. He is good hockey player and you can’t notice that Cally already on his highest pase and Dubi sucks on LW. And he put pressure on himself and Torts not alows him play with Gabby. And locker room is different to better way with him.

      • scrangersfan says:

        I don’t know about the locker room and in my opinion a guy with his contract need to score more then a couple of game winning goals. I satnd by what I posted. We all have our own opinions and I feel that I have a rite to myne.

    • kgb16 says:

      At BR’s salary, more like a Drury than a Wolski.

  2. The Suit says:

    Ultimately, I just want to see more consistency from Richards. Some games he’s hunting the puck and making plays and other games he just kind of skates around aimlessly.

    I was never expecting Richie to be what he was in Dallas, especially given who he played with there and who he is playing with here, but that still doesn’t excuse him from coasting.

    Maybe he’s playing through pain, maybe he has a confidence issue, maybe he longs for a sniper on his left side, who knows. Whatever it is, he needs to overcome and be a better all around player, both on & off the score sheet.

    • ArtyFan says:


    • Pete says:

      Things is, both lines need a quality LW’er. I like Hagelin, a lot, but im not convinced he’s a 1st line LW yet. Dubinsky is a magnification this year of his often inconsistent self, good talent, just cant put it all together for long periods.

      This team is missing high end talent, which they kinda make for in great young/cheap D-men, and an all world goalie, but to build upon this year they need to get someone to put rubber in the net kinda like Gaborik. We have too many borderline 2nd/3rd line players.

      • Chris.C says:

        Hmmmm did he not lead the team in scoring last year and in play-offs.
        Bad year yes, but I beleive that there are many other Players in the NHL, having a so called Bad year.

    • scrangersfan says:

      Totaly gree with you agree with you The Suit,
      Maybe he needs a new girlfriend.LOL.

  3. ArtyFan says:

    Bad example on DZ improving… Kassian is a rookie. Why you don’t provide with other examples when any forward almost all the time goes through him b/c of speed and how he is doing on point on PP. Just take the stats when he playing against big guys, well it’s on McD and Gi.

    • Justin says:

      I think the example is fine…it’s not an all encompassing synopsis of DZ’s improvement but a fresh in our minds example. Kassian may be a rookie, but he’s one of the NHL’s top prospects and probably Buffalo’s only true power forward. DZ is improving greatly in his gap control and using his positioning to force bigger/faster/stronger players to the outside.

  4. Mikeyyy says:

    Time for the line shuffle.

    Send dubi and aa to the pressbox.

    Play ec and wowo for a couple of games. Can’t hurt trying the wowo/br/gabby line again.

    • scrangersfan says:

      You can not expect a player to get over a slump by putting him in the pressbox, They heve the play out of it and lets hope it will happen sooner the later.

      • Mikeyyy says:


        I tell you what it does do, its sends a clear message that EC and WOWO have more upside than them and they need to get their heads in the game or get benched.

        • Justin says:

          I think this is a little harsh of a reaction Mikeyyy. I understand we need to get these guys going, but I’ll take a slumping Dubi and AA over EC and Wolski any day. The product on the ice is more important than sending a message…

          • Mikeyyy says:

            Watching Dubi play out the season like he has is the product on the ice, not too impressed at this point. They both need a swift kick in the ass.

          • scrangersfan says:

            I agree with you Justin.

  5. leatherneckinlv says:

    Right now as the team is, Boyle has more Value to the team than Richards. So the good news is that once Richards gets going again he will stabilize the lines again with some form of consistency in the lines. I am confident that he will get it together and by next year we should have a better line up with the infusion of Krieder, Miller or a UFA pick up(Parise?) to add more scoring. For right now it should be a major concern for his lack of production. I wish Trots would just assign him two wingers and just let them play for about 6 games without juggling the team to accommodate Richards. I feel that there is no reason to go make a trade for this year and to let these players decide the outcome for this year.
    It is time for Anisimov to step up as well. Dubinsky does everything but score right now however he will also get going as well. If these 3 players can turn it up a notch during the playoffs then this team has the ability as is to make a deep run and even win the Cup. Stralman has fit in very nicely and also adds offense from the blue line. He has added that dimension we need for a well rounded defense. Sauer will return this year in my opinion so we are good on defense.
    The Rangers will only get better and better by not making moves and to allow the team to evolve. By making trades for top 6 forward or the quality defenseman that have been mentioned it will add by subtraction which in my opinion either balances things out to as is or worse. My vision for the Rangers is to be a power house for years to come and not just throw it away for the sake of this year.

    • Justin says:

      Leather, one thing I really enjoy about your comments is your commitment to the vision you have about the type of team the Rangers should be constructing. The only issue I have is that it seems you don’t believe a scenario exists where we can make a trade for an impact player without completely ruining everything that has been built here. The Rangers have a surplus of quality prospects at all levels of the organization and I think that Sather could swing a trade for a top-6 forward or even a top-4 d-man that wouldn’t jeopardize the team’s future.

      • leatherneckinlv says:

        Justin, who goes the other way to get say a Ryan? Giving up one of Erixon, McIlrath, Krieder, Miller or St Croix, Two roster players and a 1st round pick is way too much subtraction for an addition. Especially when you consider next year we can potentially sign both Suter and or Parise for no loss to our own players and then if for salary cap reasons we can then trade for a good quality 1st rounder in the top 5. We maintain asset strength through patience and then we just keep getting better and better with a pipeline that is full with quality and not empty

        • Justin says:

          Absolutely understandable position, and I think the we can all agree that the cost for someone like Ryan would absolutely be too much dismantling given the economics of the situation.

          What about someone on the level of Brandon Morrow or Shane Doan? I understand that the extra 1/4.1m after this season for Morrow isn’t ideal, but in terms of cost vs. impact, it would seem to be something to at least look into…

          • leatherneckinlv says:

            These two players for nomore than a 2nd rounder or say a 3rd and Wolski I would agree to. There are a few players that needed to be traded or we lose them for nothing. Zuke, Wolski, Eminger, Bickel, Woywitka, Stralman, Avery, Prust and Mitchell that come to my mind. Of these player I would attempt to keep Mitchell, Prust and Stralman and with the rest to work out a deal. I like Moen and Selanne as pick ups and I think we can get Moen for a 4th rounder and Selanne for Wolski and a 2nd, Ducks will then resign Selanne at the end of the year and he gets a shot at the Cup…A win-win-win situation there…Trade Zuke and Bickel for a 2nd round pick from Columbus. I think Bickel can become a solid crease clearing shut down D man there and had we not have Sauer, McIlrath and Eminger to an extent that Bickel would be highly touted by ourselves. After all I also think we have the best D in the NHL by far. I would keep Stralman for one more year and with our 1st round pick select one of Reinhart, Koekkoek or Trouba which depends on where we select at as I think all 3 will be gone by the time the 21st pick is called. Reinhart and Trouba will be one by the 12th pick and Koekkoek by the 20th.
            I have to investigate to see who would be a good pickup after the 25th pick on however I never imagined us picking at 29th, 30th or 25th for that matter…lol

  6. Bobby Tux says:

    The Rangers play 5 games in 8 days so the idea of resting Rupp and Feds to give WW a chance on LW might not be a terrible idea. One last chance.

    Not sure of the line combos but maybe

    WW Stephan Gabi
    Hags BR Callahan
    Dubi AA Mitchell
    Proust boyle with either fed/Rupp

    This accomplishes a lot. Finds out if WW (or if you want to give the chance to EC) really can play a Rangers brand of hockey. Allows a rest for the tired legs. Makes a real scoring 3rd line

  7. mojo says:

    richards decline in play coincides with him being dumped by his girlfriend. perhaps he really dug her and is emotionally distraught and thus his head is not where it needs to be.