Musings: The don’t panic edition

February 28, 2013, by
When Gaborik shoots, he collects pucks. Just don't ask Lundqvist...

When Gaborik shoots, he collects pucks. Just don’t ask Lundqvist…

Welcome to this week’s edition of musings. This week’s version is entitled Start-To-Worry-But-Please-Don’t-Panic. With a dose of positivity in my veins, let’s get into it.

Let me immediately address the Zuccarello, Fasth and Lindberg news. I do not think any of the three can have a major impact on the Rangers this year. All three are talented but Zuke can’t cope physically in the NHL (from the evidence thus far) and Fasth and Lindberg would require time to settle in to North American hockey. If they come in as depth then sure; utilise their speed, their confidence from productive seasons. However, if they’re coming in to be  difference makers then I am not sure. They’re still young.

The Rangers offense has dried up more than the Sahara desert so the three goal ‘explosion’ against the Jets was a welcome sight. What did they do right to get three goals? Traffic around the net and simply shooting. If only they’d have been willing to shoot more in that game… but it’s amazing how these simple aspects of hockey still lead to offense. This game we love isn’t rocket science.

Gaborik: He’s inconsistent, but although his form has started to improve I’d have ripped him a new one after the Jets game. He’s a shooter. He was brought in to shoot, to score, to bring offense. He has to be told he’s expected to shoot, he’s expected to score goals. As coach, I’d have demanded he shoot, shoot, shoot and really try to re-focus his thought process on being that world-class shooter that he is when he’s on form. He simply cannot pass up a 2 on 1. Ever.

Carl Hagelin continues to be busy and is one of the better Rangers, but are we now seeing how much he benefited from being on the opposite flank to Rick Nash?

Ryan Callahan’s shift where he broke his stick and still dominated the ice is one of the single most inspiring/impressive shifts I’ve seen. It deserved so much more than it got. It also summed up our captain. With no disrespect intended there are a lot of individuals on this roster more talented than Callahan. Yet he stands out, over performs. Every single player not named Henrik Lundqvist can take a page out of Cally’s book of intangibles.

Hosting Tampa Bay tonight. This is the first time this season where one single game, for me, begins to take on the ‘must win’ aspect. Rick Nash returning would be massive.

With the potential of a compliance buy-out this summer, and with guys such as Gaborik under-performing as Rangers management, do you starting gazing an eye over the Corey Perry contract stalemate? (food for thought)

Very commendable from Ryan McDonagh not to point the finger at Max Pacriottey for the hit that injured him but you know what? BE angry! Do blame him. Let’s see some passion from this roster. Use that bad hit as motivation. I sometimes get the feeling that Rangers players don’t want to say something controversial, upset the apple cart and are a little too ‘calm’, for want of a better word. I want to see this roster play angry. Get their edge back.

Here’s one to ponder; Henrik Lundqvist needs to be much better. His numbers aren’t bad but he’s not making the big saves regularly enough. His numbers are almost as a result of the Rangers playing minimalistic hockey; they don’t give too much up while not producing much themselves. Luckily, we know Lundqvist can be much better. If he rebounds (when he rebounds) I still think this team makes the playoffs riding his form.

Questions Time:

  • What is Derek Stepan’s true upside; can he be a number one center?
  • Will Brad Richards rebound this year and if not; does that coincide with missing the playoffs?
  • Who will be an Ex Ranger first: Gaborik or Richards?
  • Will any Ranger be nominated for a trophy this year?
  • If you had to trade one who would it be: Marc Staal or Dan Girardi?
  • Do you think Zuccarello Fasth or Lindberg can make a difference to this year’s team?

I am literally praying for a win tonight. Later Skaters.  


  1. Matt Josephs says:

    Too depressed about this team to answer all of your questions but I will answer one.

    I don’t think Fasth or Lindberg can help this year but I think MZA can help to a certain extent. He won’t be a savior by any stretch, but he can help. When they called him back up last season he was very productive before he got injured blocking that shot. When he was back up in that short span he helped out the PP a lot with his passing and vision.

    If it’s him versus Kreider for 7 minutes a game or whatever, my vote goes to the hobbit so long as he’s going to get over 3 minutes of power play time a game which I don’t think will be a problem.

    • Chris says:

      Matt, on that we agree. I’d much rather Zuke for 7 minutes etc than Kreider.
      Kreider needs long term development.
      Zuke could be a solid stop gap, though I maintain my concerns about him coping with NHL play for any significant minutes/game.

      • Steffen says:

        Perhaps if you move him with Nash, he gets a bit more space… And a speedy line with Hags, Richards and Gaborik perhaps?

        If St. Louis can do it, some others might learn too, but they need time.

  2. Walt says:

    As to Gabby not shooting, I believe that he has been re-trained, if not brain washed, into not making mistakes, and it has affected his game! He seems to be playing scared.

    Derek is solid, but #1, no. A very good #2, yes.

    We will make the play-offs, in spite of Richards.

    Richards should be the one to go, because of the lenght of his contract, and age. If he were playing half as good as he did in Tampa, or Dallas, then I’d keep him.

    I don’t believe so. If there were a trophy for busting your tail every game, hands down, Cally wins.

    If I had to trade these 2 I’d go with Staal, only because he may want to join his brothers in Carolina. That would be one hell of a lousy choice.

    Yes! Lingberg has speed, and is very sound both ways, or so it’s written. He can play on the 3rd line with Callie, and Miller, or 4th line, as a PK, and defensive shadow, ala Bob Gainey.

    Tonight we win, Tampa is having their share of problems, their goaltending is suspect, and I believe the guys are hungry. Lets mark this date down as the day we turned our season around, and started playing up to our potential.

  3. 94 says:

    What is Derek Stepan’s true upside; can he be a number one center?
    -upside is that he is a team player and plays a nice 2-way game with solid all around ability, but I just don’t see him with that edge/arrogance to be a #1 center. He is a lock as our number 2 though.

    Will Brad Richards rebound this year and if not; does that coincide with missing the playoffs?
    -yes he will rebound. It won’t happen until he sees that we are in a position to miss the playoffs and something clicks.

    Who will be an Ex Ranger first: Gaborik or Richards?
    -Gaborik. Trading Richards after signing him to a jumbo contract woukd make the organization look really bad, especially after selling him on our organization. Gaborik’s contract is running out, he’s playing soft, uninspired hockey and is proving not to be game-time against the bigger teams. Sather will sell high while it is still a possibility.

    Will any Ranger be nominated for a trophy this year?
    -Callahan for the NYR extra effort award (and win). As for NHL awards, Cally for the Lady Byng; otherwise, nada.

    If you had to trade one who would it be: Marc Staal or Dan Girardi?
    -other, I would trade Del Zotto for a more balanced, big hitting defenseman. We need to get big on defense. Mcilrath is coming up in a year or two hopeful,y as well.

    Do you think Zuccarello Fasth or Lindberg can make a difference to this year’s team?
    -zuccarello and lindberg, maybe. Zuc can definitely help our powerplay but will not get many other minutes because he is a Hobbit afterall. If Lindberg is good on face-offs, then stick him on the third line between Pyatt and JTM and drop boyle to the 4th line (because he’s playing like a 4th liner right now). Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t playing horribly but he is putting up zero points at the moment. Fast(h) should spend some time adjusting to the life of a North American hockey player in Hartford for a bit.

  4. SalMerc says:

    I would refrain from answering and give a different take. Some teams have multiple super-stars and do not perform (cuirrent Lakers and NY Yankees). Some teams have stars and DO perform (Miami Heal and 2000ish Yankess). What is the difference? I say it is the clubhouse, understanding of the goal/system and coaching. We can keep adding stars, but the result may not change too much unless there is an atitude change. Usually, coaching a first line is unnecessary, but motivatioing them is. Zucc, Fasth or Lindberg may help, but they are not the solution to the current issue.

    • Chris says:

      I hear you, but I’m really not sure there’s an in-house issue just because of one mini slump. This has always been a close knit bunch, the organisation has always been seen to be on the same page so while I understand your point I dont think its relevant with the Rangers. The 97-2003 Rangers, sure. Not this edition.

  5. ranger17 says:

    BR Gabby and Kreider are doing nothing , to remedy that you put them on a line together and let them play their way out of it . Kreider needs Torts to take him aside and tell the kid use your speed shot as much as possible and stop worrying about misstakes and just play your game you are going to get 18 to 20 minutes a game . With Gabby and Kreider on his wings BR has 2 of the better skaters in the NHL on with him so tell him to make it happen

    • VinceR says:

      I agree but it seems like he has again and again (aka I constantly hear how Torts tells Kreids to watch Hagelin and model his game after him).

      I think he just needs the AHL seasoning once we have the luxury of sending him back down for a little bit.

  6. Steffen says:

    Nice article again, I think you make some nice remarks or food for thought about the game.

    The remark about Hagelin and Nash and the way they compliment each other is is important one in my opinion. That might be the problem with Richards and Gaborik too, they’re both not really confident and don’t seem able to shake it just yet. Perhaps playing with each other doesn’t help either, in the sense that linemates have to make up for your mistakes and perhaps it is not the best defensive line. Furtermore it might be hard to get into a groove when you don’t have the puck to play with, because you’re always chasing it…

    Things that concern me, is entering the area and the shots the Rangers took in the Montreal games, from what is saw, it seemed that they were not really able to enter the offensive side. They were clogged up on the sides. Also the shots they took in that games looked very one-dimensional to me. Most shots were from pretty far away and the outside without much traffic.
    In the game against Winnipeg it seemed that they entered the area a bit more diverse, some times via the sides but also via the middle of the ice. This created in my mind also more ice to work with. The shots in this game were also more diverse, some from the point, others from the hashmarks and the crease. The bad thing about this game was, that at the time they started to play, the got burned badly. One bad shift and the second goal of Jokinen and a perfect shot of Kane… Sometimes s… happens. But the tenacity they (Callahan) played with, was a good thing to see!

    Furthermore that tenacity I would like to see, fierce on the puck and the man and not the individual. I don’t need a team to chase Pacioretty and forget to play hockey…

    For the Europeons 😉 , I think one of the problems of the team right now is stability. The team seemed to find a bit of a groove and then injuries happened and shook everything up… Also the problems of Richards and Gaborik were emphasised because Nash didn’t create point no more.
    At this time I do not believe the Rangers are a team, not everybody seems to be on the same page. If a team is rolling it never hurts to integrate an upgrade, but I wouldn’t mess with that too much with it yet. Unless you know (which you never do I guess) that they improve the team.

    -If Stepan continues to develop, jup.
    -He’ll rebound, nope, that not depending on just one player.
    -Due to alfabet: Gaborik
    -Staal (I think he has the bigger name, so more in return)
    -Zucc might

  7. george says:

    1. Stepan could be a #1C but probably fits a #2C better.

    2. Richards is a true pro. He knows what it takes to be successful in the NHL so i can see him turing the season around slowly. The Jets game was the first step (got a point out of it, could raise his confidence).

    3. Gaborik. Possible buy out this summer to get Perry or cause his contract will run out after next season.

    4. McDonagh for norris has been rumored. Doubt it. Callahan for lady byng.

    5. Neither. Try to move Stralman. Pinches way too much and hurts rangers cause of too many oddman rushes.

    6. Zucc if he signs. Fasth and lindberg should get experience in the AHL but should be NHL ready next season to fill out the bottom 6.

  8. Chris F says:

    Stepan has decent speed, a quick shot and great vision. His faceoff skills appear to be improving. He’s a solid #2 center with a potential to anchor a first line with more development.

    I’ve seen little indication that Richards will turn it around. He lacks confidence and plays with hesitancy. Despite his failings, Rangers take the 7th seed.

    Both Richards and Gaborik are slumping, but Gaborik still has way more skills and more years left in his tank. Considering his contract, Richards is forced out first.

    Does the Steven McDonald Award count? 😉

    I still believe Girardi, Staal and McDonagh are the core of the defense and should be left intact. If forced to choose, Staal would have to be the one on the trade block.

  9. nyr1579 says:

    stepan…perhaps one of the best #2 centers in nhl
    richards…not sure if you would call it a rebound, but i can certainly see his game improve, and believe we make playoffs…where he will step up as we saw last season
    Gaborik…unless richards is bought out this summer. they both may be gone this summer
    trophy? no
    cant see them ever trading either
    swedes/zucc? make a difference? no. contribute? sure…especially if injuries continue to be a problem…

  10. JTC says:

    “Be angry. Do blame him.” I agree, there should be more fire from this team. They need to get mad and push back a lot more than they have. Somebody should have put their fist in Pacioretty’s face the other night, they need to find an urgency so far lacking.

  11. Tim B says:

    No but Cally will probably get the Steven McDonald extra effort award again.
    Staal. More trade value and LD is Mcdonagh and MDZ, RD is Girardi and Stralman as top 4.
    Zucc can. NHL is very different from all te other hockey leagues.

  12. Ray says:

    Like Stepan, but don’t see him as a number one.
    No idea on Q 2 & 3
    No awards this year.
    I like Staal much more and think Girardi gets a pass on his screw ups. But Rangers are weak on right defense, so Staal.
    I think Lindberg and Fast would only be brought over to play in Hartford – this year at least. Zuccarello would bring one thing that the Rangers really need – true depth. He isn’t a Tortorella mold player, but he tries to play the way Torts wants him to. He is an acceptable NHLer and he can play on any line, even the top one. He would allow Tortorella to bench players who are not playing the game the way they should without giving extra time to someone either inadequate or also dogging it. Tortorella wants toughness and heart. Right now, he has neither. Zuke at least provides one.