Musings: The take the Island edition

March 7, 2013, by
Michael Del Zotto is needed now, more than ever.

Michael Del Zotto is needed now, more than ever.

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.

Question Time:

  • 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.


  1. ranger17 says:

    rest of the season
    Pyatt Boyle Halpern Powe Ashem Bickel
    Yes unless one of top 6 goes down

  2. Tim B says:

    Zucc hell yeah
    Mcdonagh, they both play the same side, Girardi cant play LD. Mcdoangh and MDZ would see more minutes in Staal’s absents
    Lol not many
    Depends on injury and energence of scoring ability

  3. Mikeyyy says:

    Zuccarello yes
    Iron man is more important.
    Hags…he keeps surprising me.
    The rest of the games…if he still wants it.
    Boyle….tough choice but he needs to score more.
    Yes…after seeing the explosion…he needs to succeed to develop…I’m a fan, I was wrong to want him up in the bigs.

  4. Bloomer says:

    Hobey Gilroy is a good skater, problem is he suffers from brain cramps from time to time. Roman could be an upgrade only if he hasn’t lost his mojo. Nash and Gaborik are completely difference players. If Nash is held off the score sheet, he still contributes in many way that helps a club win hockey game. Gabs needs to be moved at the trade deadline to rebuild their pipeline with picks and prospects. Krieder and Zuc can be brought in to fill his spot on the roster. Going forward the club needs to find a up and coming goalie to mentor under Hank. I love the combo on Steps, Hags and Callahan, A lot of heart and moxy on that line. Boyle is playing better of late he be alright. They have the best defence in the league as far as I am concern, just need to add a PP specialist. Give me a team of Callahans and Girardis and I guarantee you a Stanley Cup.

  5. Kevin Baumer says:

    Tough question…can I say none?
    Yes without a doubt

    • Chris says:

      I tend to be agreeing with your number (give or take) regarding the Hamrlik games total. Look at when Stralman come on board; it took him a while to get into Torts’ desired game shape so wasn’t thrown straight in and here we have a neigh-on 40 year old that has sat in the press box for 3 weeks.

      I think he can help, just don’t think (despite Staal’s injury)he’ll be inserted quickly. Of course, we may be wrong.

  6. Starter says:

    Zuccarello; yes or no?
    -Unless we trade away Stu Bickel and his penalty taking ways, I would like to keep that roster spot open for the time being.

    Who is more important on D with Staal’s absence; McDonagh or Girardi?
    -Girardi. He is our rock in defense and a leader for the younger guys, Del Zotto and Mcdonaugh.

    Bigger surprise; Carl Hagelin or Brian Boyle?
    -Brian Boyle. I expected Carl Hagelin to make the next, especially if given the opportunity with Brad Richards and Rick Nash this season. i did not see this drop-off from Brian Boyle coming. I didn’t expect him to score another 20 goals but I expected him to up his careernoffensive production, despite Prust departing for Montreal. He has been doing a good job defensively recently though.

    How many games with Hamrlik play for the Rangers?
    -Assuming he’s kept up his fitness while being a healthy scratch, the rest of the season, especially with Staal out for a bit, and the playoffs (around 40 games).

    Which top nine forward would you be most willing to sacrifice for defensive help?
    -None. If for some reason Sather has more of those scandalous photos of every GM in the league and can move Gaborik for a younger, consistent PWF like Bobby Ryan or Dustin Brown plus a D-man prospect, I would not go for another d-man before the deadline and I certainly would not move a sniper like Gaborik.

    Would you leave Chris Kreider in the AHL for the rest of the season?
    -only if the big club doesn’t need him. Otherwise, if he continues his hot streak at the Whale, leave him there until they’re out of the AHL playoff picture or make the playoffs.

  7. Dave says:

    It’s amazing how one freak injury impacts the defensive depth so much.

    • Chris says:

      Especially when its to an important player. Staal has been a beast at times this year. If he misses the rest of the year could put a huge dampener on Rangers Cup hopes.

  8. Kitter says:

    Zuccarello: Yes, I liked him before the wrist injury.
    Girardi: He’s a rock back there.
    Boyle: Definitely thought he would have at least a goal by now.
    Hamrlik: I don’t know, but I really like the pick up and comes in as a serviceable defenseman that maybe let’s a slap shot or two go from the point.
    Pyatt: He’s a reliable two way player with some offensive upside. From an asset standpoint he has done well and appears expendable, trade him and sign Dominic Moore as replacement (I understand that is easier said than done)
    Yes, I think JT Miller is more of a learn on the fly, whereas Kreider needs to build confidence to take steps, and unless we are in some dire situation he should be left down to grow.

  9. RyanK says:

    – I would love to see Zuccarello back with the team

    – McDonagh. Girardi’s the top D-man on the Rangers, with Staal out McDonagh is going to have to step it up. And yes, even though he’s already (in my opinion) one of the league’s top D-men, I think he’s going to get even better.

    – Boyle, in a negative way. He’s still a key penalty killer, but his offensive game is lacking this year.

    – I see Hamrlik in for the season. He’s old, but since the season is shortened I can see him still being able to hold down the blue line and contribute a little offensively.

    Richards maybe, but it absolutely depends on what we get in return. Hopefully this season is an anomaly for him and not the beginning of his decline. I feel extremely confidentabout Stepan and Miller’s futures with the Rangers. Definitely wouldn’t mind seeing Bickel go.

    – Barring any future freak accidents, leave Kreider down. He has a nice goal streak going, let him play so he can regain his confidence and know that he deserves to be in the big leagues before bringing him back

  10. george says:

    1. No on the Hobbit
    2. Mac Truck will have to pick it up but i feel MDZ and Stralman will have to a lot better to fill the gap.
    3. Boyle has been a huge disappointment excepton faceoffs.
    4. Rest of season
    5. None.
    6. Yes unless injury occurs

  11. rickyrants13 says:

    Im only going to chime in on the Stall thing. I think if he isnt effected in his confidence The time out will not bother him in the long run. Knowing Staal if he can be back he will and soon. We just dont know what is wrong yet…

  12. HARLEMBLUES says:

    Zuccarello,yes. McD. Hagelin,he’s finishing.ROS. B.Rich,He’s a buy out waiting to happen anyway. Bring Kreider back if he continues to succeed in the AHL.

  13. Sioux-per-man says:

    Zucc: Yes. Fun to watch

    McDonagh: He looked good on the powerplay, and he is very tough to out skate.

    Hagelin: His speed is a game changer, you notice him EVERY shift, plays a solid top 6 forward.
    Boyle very disappointed in him. 1 point in how many games?

    Hamrlik – 20+ games, and the playoffs. Even when Staal comes back THIS YEAR, he would be a solid addition to the 3rd pair.

    WE have Hamr now, why do we have to give up anything?

    Yes, until he finds his scoring and confidence. We will need him as a 3rd line scoring thret for the playoffs. Let’s hope he can find his playoff self of last year.