The Rangers shoot for a season best fourth victory in a row tonight against the Islanders. Naturally, the Islanders love playing spoiler to their big brother neighbours so it should be a dandy. On to the musings.
Where do you stand on the visor front? I’m all for mandatory visors and always have been. Hockey is a fast and dangerous sport why wouldn’t you want to be as safe as possible? It will be interesting to see if Marc Staal changes his stance when (not if) he returns.
Hate to say I told you so: I said on Twitter that the Rangers should go after Roman Hamrlik before he was claimed, and I thought that before Marc Staal’s injury. He’s not what he was at 38 years old, but a rusty Hamrlik is better at this stage of his career than Stu Bickel, or more consistent than Matt Gilroy. Regarding the concern over his skating: Bickel can’t skate either and Gilroy’s skating ability hasn’t exactly helped him establish himself. So Hamrlik still represents an upgrade on the third pair, even with his limited skating ability.
One final thing on Staal; Assuming he misses the rest of the season, by the time next October comes around Staal will have missed a lot of hockey in the past two years. Does that affect him long term? It could go one of two ways; either he’ll benefit from having plenty left in the tank or he’ll have missed so much competitive hockey he’ll not be the same player he was.
I really like how Derek Stepan has been playing lately. He’s been clutch, his decision making has been (on the whole) excellent, and we’re really seeing that composure of his come to the fore. If he can maintain this form then the Rangers have themselves a special player. If it wasn’t for an eight game stretch at the end of January/start of February where he only had two points his numbers would be impressive.
Something I mentioned on Twitter the other day: The way Rick Nash is currently playing; he’s worth every cent of that sizeable contract. Is anyone worried about his cap hit right now? (Answer is no) At his current level he’s the very definition of a difference maker.
Regarding Chris Kreider’s relative offensive explosion in the AHL this past week; let’s enjoy it, be pleased that he’s finding his offensive game again but leave him there to do it over a prolonged period. As I’ve maintained all along, he needs big minutes and to be played in the right situations (powerplay, offensive zone starts) so that he can develop and regain his confidence.
Many won’t like it but Michael Del Zotto has played pretty damn solidly since returning from his brief injury absence. He’ll need to take that to a higher level now Staal is missing. I have no doubts that he has the ability to do so.
- Zuccarello; yes or no?
- Who is more important on D with Staal’s absence; McDonagh or Girardi?
- Bigger surprise; Carl Hagelin or Brian Boyle?
- How many games with Hamrlik play for the Rangers?
- Which top nine forward would you be most willing to sacrifice for defensive help?
- Would you leave Chris Kreider in the AHL for the rest of the season?
Rangers at the Island, I love this fixture. A win tonight could really give the Rangers added momentum and with a few winnable fixtures coming up, a chance at a long win streak to propel them up the standings.