Rangers pass the 12 game mark, time to review

Source: NJ Star Ledger

Source: NJ Star Ledger

The Rangers win in Boston marked the night we’ve been talking about since they opened the season with three losses in four games. Following those losses, fans were ready to can Torts, trade Gabby and torch everything Glen’s built over the last few years. Premature panic compelled Dave to write an article titled, “One game does not make a season. I preached patience and suggested we needed to wait until at least the 12 game mark before we could analyze what kind of team we had. Well, game 12 has come and gone and I think we’re all ready for an evaluation.

Here are some initial thoughts…

Key Strengths

Rick Nash is better than advertised

Never mind the 10 points in 12 games, or the fact he leads all Rangers in offense, what Nash brings to the table goes beyond the score sheet.  He not only draws coverage, opening up space for his linemates, but he also consistently beats the coverage on his own.

Gomez used to skate right into blueline traps and cough the puck up over and over again. Nash skates through traps, around them, even under them – that assist to Hags the other night was Nashty nasty. I haven’t seen a player this dynamic with the puck, since Jagr circa 2006. Rick Nash is the real deal.

Our offense finally has some depth/balance

Having depth is something we’ve talked about a lot on this site. Depth means you have balanced lines and balanced lines creates mismatches for opposition checkers. With Stepan and Hagelin coming along offensively, plus the addition of Powe and Miller to the lineup, the Rangers now have a bottom six that can skate, chip in on offense, and most importantly – log important minutes.

Torts also employs an aggressive forechecking system, one that requires puck pursuit and playing in the dirty areas of the ice. It is so crucial this type of system has four forward lines that comes at you in waves and wears down the opposition.

Marc Staal is back to his old self

Sure Staal came back during last year’s Winter Classic, but we all know he didn’t come back in the best form. This season we are seeing the Marc Staal of old. He’s not just making great defensive plays and clearing the slot, he’s also much more confident with the puck and he’s picking his spots better on the rush.

The Rangers have built this team from the net out. Having a defense that can continue to put up points makes defending against us much harder if we can score from anywhere in the OZ.

Room for Improvement

Defensive depth

The past few games Torts has been able to trust everyone in all situations. Stralman proved to be a great add and Gilroy has been better with the puck in his own end zone than Bickel and Eminger. With that said, should we lose any of these guys to injury, there really isn’t anyone who can step in and log 10+ minutes a night. McIlrath is at least a year away and no one else on the farm is close to ready for The Show. A trade almost seems inevitable.

The powerplay

The Rangers went deep into the playoffs last season with a subpar powerplay. A year earlier the Bruins won the Cup after being 20th in the league in PP conversion. The Penguins held the same rank in 08-09. The Rangers can succeed with an average PP, but they’ll be behind the eight ball if the advantage remains in the basement.

I think the PP can be improved, but it will not be a top 10 powerplay until MDZ matures into an elite powerplay quarterback. It doesn’t matter who the coach is or what you diagram. If you can’t walk the line and distribute/blast from the point, your PP will never be great. Everyone at this level knows what they have to do. Executing is a different story.

But look around the league. How many powerplays are successful year in and year out? Not many. Every year it changes save a few teams. What do those few teams have in common? Answer – elite PP QBs. Whether or not we wait for MDZ to round into form or make a trade is anyone’s guess. In my opinion, having an elite PP QB is the final piece to the puzzle.

27 Responses to “Rangers pass the 12 game mark, time to review”

  1. JWT says:

    Why 12 games? Why not 10 or 20?

    • Dave says:

      For a full 82 game season, the panic button gets hit around the 20 game mark (roughly 25% of the season). Applying that to the half season we have and it’s about 12 games.

  2. VinceR says:

    Above there’s a link that says “at least the 12 game mark”…the answer is in the third paragraph.

  3. Walt says:

    Agree with most of your article, but worst case, we can go the distance with the existing d-men we have. Look, the bottom pairing isn’t the best, but we can go with MDZ, and Gilroy, or even Emminger if need be! I believe that Stralman has earned the top four time, and paired with Staal, not too bad.

    Last night I watched the Pens Vs Sens game, and the PP of the Sens, and their puck movement in the second period was outstanding. Even the Pens announcer said it looked like a shooting galary. It’s a shamme that the Karrlson kid got hurt, and will be long term, wonder what the PP will look like with him on the IR list?

    I hope they keep the Miller kid up, and send Bickel down, so we can keep Boyle on the roster, and have him contribute to our effert.

    • Dave says:

      I don’t see what sending Bickel down has to do with keeping Boyle.

      I still want a 6th defenseman that isn’t named Gilroy, Bickel, or Eminger. Simply put: They can’t be trusted game in and game out.

      • Walt says:

        Dave

        I said worst case we can go with what we have. There is no need to give up the shop to get a six d-man. Now if we can get an upgrade, without giving away too much, I agree!

        • Cole says:

          I agree with Walt here. It’s no secret that Gilroy isn’t our first pick to be the 6th dman on this team but moving forward with him there, Eminger as #7, Bickel in a tough guy role playing d only in dire circumstances puts this team in a much better place than last year. It’ll help keep the top guys fresh and I still think Gilroy has some offensive upside if given the ice time.

  4. rickyrants13 says:

    I think we can get by with Gilroy we had less last year on D. The only diff was the ones we had played above what we thought we would get. Lets hope we get that again.

  5. rickyrants13 says:

    Nash is making me look good. Not only was I ok giving up Dubi and the other players for him. But Ive said it all along. Nash is the most under rated player in the NHL. Well he was…

  6. Tim B says:

    Boyle on D. Just kidding.

    • The Suit says:

      Dan Boyle? I’d take him.

      • Leatherneckinlv says:

        Who is left as a UFA as defensemen? Foster might be a good signing if he is still available

        • Dave says:

          No one. None of the options are really intriguing.

          • Leatherneckinlv says:

            Who would you trade for? I think Gundbranson would be my choice to trade for. Young, physical and does have offense in his game. Would fit the Rangers system incredibly well.
            Thank God that Samuel Noreau has developed well this season. With Buekeboom as a coach he may turn out to be a diamond in the rough.
            Douglass Murray may be had for the right deal

            • Dave says:

              Florida isn’t trading Gudbranson, so don’t even bother.

              Noreau is playing well, but remember players in the Q are supposed to get better as they age (he’s 20 playing against 17-18 year olds).

              I’m a fan of trading for Doug Murray.

        • Matt Josephs says:

          Foster is awful and is signed with the Flyers. He’s an offensive specialist along with Marc-Andre Bergeron. We don’t need that. We need someone who can log 15 minutes a night.

      • Tim B says:

        No i meant Brian Boyle. He started his career as a d man

  7. James says:

    Don’t want to burst alot of fans bubbles but What we see in Bickel, Eminger, Boyle, Gilroy, and yes MDZ is the best level that they can play at!! There not gonna get any better sorry but it’s what it is. They have all had extensive time to show their stuff and unforintaly what you see is what you get and their marketablity is what it is because of it!! MDZ is a 3rd pairing and thats on a good day and he’s the only real player that can be moved and the Rangers will have to give up more in a trade.It will take MDZ, High prospect, and high draft pic for a “decent” PP Qtr. Back!! unless Sather can steal another elite Player. As far as a PP Qtr.Back the Rangers should get a player like D-Man Brian Campbell and no less and I dont see it happening…

    But somehow I think Av’s O’Reilly’s on his way to the Rangers before long…

    • JW says:

      I agree with the assessment, but must point out QB is easier to abbreviate than Qtr. Back. That is all.

    • Dave says:

      Before you go off on MDZ and trading for someone, why not give Staal or McDonagh a chance? Both are very capable of moving the puck.

  8. supermaz says:

    We have a good pp qb on the roster .
    Torts needs to take the shackles off of Staal and let him create.
    This guy is elite when allowed to open it up.

  9. Jeff P says:

    Torts needs to stop player top 3 Dmen 27 minutes a game in a short season. Gilroy is perfectly capable of playing 12-15 minutes a night at ok NHL level.

    • Dave says:

      That hasn’t been a problem since Gilroy has been in the lineup. The top five guys have been around 22-25 minutes, which is normal.

  10. Kris says:

    The PP isnt missing a quarterback, its missing right handed shooters. Having 2 left handed shooters on the point makes it easier to defend. There is never going to be a one timer on one side. Puck movement is so much easier with a righty and lefty playing catch at the point making forehand passes to each other. Which is one of the reasons Girardi got some pp time last game.

    Mcdonagh isn’t getting much ice time on the PP because of the amount of ice time he gets even strength and short-handed. He already has the most ice time on the team.

    Id like a big shot at the top for the pp but that doesnt mean its going to work, look at the Bruins.

    I think the pp has looked better ever since getting the forwards off the goal line and on the hash marks in shooting positions when they get the puck.