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Musings: Has the tide turned for the Rangers?

Brad Richards has looked  strong all season.

Brad Richards has looked strong all season.

The Rangers faced a ton of adversity, a fierce rival with a new star acquisition and the pressure of facing up to back to back defeats and yet, they found a way to win. Do not underestimate how much the victory on the Island could mean to the season as a whole. Musings time!

It’s amazing how perceptions can change after one good win.

So many players’ games have improved over the past three games. All of a sudden a previously invisible Mats Zuccarello looks relevant, energetic and back to being difficult to play against. Benoit Pouliot looks like he can play too.

Speaking of Pouliot; against the Isles he showed why he was a promising pick up. The dude has serious skill and can finish. It’s a huge season for him as if he can get some traction and find consistency he may finally stick with a team. He has to be much more consistent though.

Quality AHL production last night: Danny Kristo 1+2, Conor Allen 1+1, Jesper Fast 2 helpers, Lindberg a goal, McIlrath an assist…. So many prospects are contributing in the AHL right now. The pipeline is definitely still promising.

Brad Richards appears determined to give his employers a huge dilemma this coming off-season. You have to love his compete-level right now, his confidence, his willingness to get the puck on net and his general sharpness is probably the best it’s been in a Rangers uniform. The right thing to do is to still buy him out but imagine the angst Sather and co. will feel if they face buying out an 80 point producing player.

Carl Hagelin is a huge addition ten games in. So much speed, forechecking, and two way ability. With Callahan and Nash still out, any extra legitimate top six forward back in the line-up is massive. On Hagelin; I think you can be a top six forward without being a strong finisher. Hagelin has fifty point upside long term, coupled with his penalty kill ability. That’s a top six player.

Welcome back Ryan McDonagh. McDonagh is getting better with every game, as is the defence generally.

When was the last time you saw the Rangers generate so much sustained offensive pressure and have so much pressure around the opposing net? Great signs moving forward.

I cannot take anyone seriously who thinks extra rest for Henrik Lundqvist is a bad thing. The Rangers are at their best with a fresh Lundqvist. However, it’s not great for my fantasy team.

Chris Kreider is getting all the kudos for his recent play and rightly so. However I really liked JT Miller’s poise and decision making, not to mention his compete level, against the Islanders. Kreider and Miller could make such a difference to the Rangers when everyone is fit and available. Depth wins.

Question Time:

  • Are there any circumstances in which the Rangers can seriously entertain keeping Brad Richards beyond this season?
  • Bigger cause for concern: Dan Girardi or Michael Del Zotto?
  • What are your realistic expectations for Carl Hagelin this season?
  • How many starts should Cam Talbot get out of the remaining 71 games?
  • How many points will Chris Kreider score this season and is he here to stay?

29 Responses to “Musings: Has the tide turned for the Rangers?”

  1. Bayman says:

    1) Yes…big season and a Cup
    2) Girardi
    3) Lots of speed, modest number of goals
    4) 15
    5) 60 and yes

  2. RangerSmurf says:

    1) Yes. I’m beginning to think the idea of a buyout was more about his performance in a short season w/ no camp then it was about declining ability.

    2) Girardi. He’s always been a bit of a coattail rider, it’s getting more exposure now it seems.

    3) 35ish points, puck possession monster.

    4) 20, +/- a couple.

    5) 30, yes.

  3. Tommy T says:

    1) the only way i can see richards being kept is if Nash is retiring because of injury.
    2) i think they are equally concerning, Girardi looks out of sorts and MDZ must know that this is a potential make or break year
    3)Haggy will either solidify his spot in the top 6 or he will be one of the best third liners in the league with great two way game. I dont see him ever having a real scoring touch, not his style of game.
    4) Has looked out of this world for a rookie, i see him getting 12-17 more games depending on how Henrik looks.
    5) If CK20 can stay consistent he can easily be 50+ points for the season. Confidence is this kids best friend/worst enemy, looking forward to seeing how he handles the ups and downs. That being said i love how he is playing since the call up he is really wanting to make a difference

  4. becky says:

    1- Yess but gimme a Cup please :)
    2- DG
    3- speed kills. him healthy is huge. not sure about points but I think his presence on ice makes things happen.
    4- ~25
    5- 40-45, YUP.

  5. Walt says:

    1-No, unless Nash can’t ever come back, ala Pronger

    2-Girardi is starting to get a little long of tooth, and because all the shot blocking over the years, I believe it has taken it’s toll

    3-Hags, if healthy, and plays as a top six, can get 50-53 points

    4-Cam should start some 20 more games, the perfect amount to keep Hank rested, and not rusty

    Kreider, also staying on the top six, can get some 50-55 points

    Talking about Pouliot, he was able to get the open shot because Hags drew the attention of 2 d-men. They feared his speed, and try to defend against it, opening the ice for Pouliot.

    The point made about the kids, Miller, and Kreider was spot on. We can get Pyatt out of the line up, and leave Miller there. Can you see these lines:

    Step-Kreider-BR
    Brass-Nash-Callie
    Boyle-Pouliot-Hags
    Moore-Zucc-Dorsett

    That is a solid line up, balanced with scoreing, and sound defense.

    Your article was well writen, and as usual, up to the blogs stardards.

  6. Chris F says:

    1) No. The organization cannot sustain BR’s contract, while retaining Nash, and resigning Callahan and Lundqvist. Beside that, even if BR has a great year, the number of years left on his contract is going to be a huge problem. The team must get rid of him while they have the chance.

    2) I’m not worried about either. AV’s system should give Girardi the room to regenerate a bit after the beating he took playing under Tortorella and MDZ is only 23 years old. He can skate, pass, shoot and is decent defensively. He will be a long-term asset if given the time to grow.

    3) Hags should pot 40 points and constantly get the attention of opposing defenders, which opens space for those around him.

    4) Another 15 starts would be ideal, maybe a little more if his play continues to improve.

    5) CK can net 35 points this season, I think. Maybe more if he somehow retains 1st line minutes.

  7. Mikeyyy says:

    I the immortal words of Han Solo

    Don’t get cocky.

  8. The Suit says:

    Richards should be bought out. I don’t want to see what that cap hit looks like in 2020.

    One will be traded at some point. Torn on which one it will be. Girardi has been #1 or #2 in hits and blocked shots for 3 different coaches now. So I don’t think he’s really going to change the way he plays despite a different system. Up to AV whether that’s a pro or a con.

    Hags will be Hags. Maybe a little more offense if he gets PP time.

    I’d like to see Talbot get 15-20.

    TBD on Kreider. Let’s see how he does when defenses adjust to him.

  9. Spozo says:

    1. This will be a difficult decision for Sather at the end of the season but the length of contract will lead to a buyout.
    2. I’m not worried about either. Girardi is in a funk and will come around. I never expected MDZ to be Lidstrom in his own end but if he puts up his usual 40 points then I’m happy.
    3. Hagelin isn’t known for lighting the lamp but his legs do so much for him that he still gets good minutes. 35 points.
    4. 20 more would make me happy. I’m still concerned that while AV has said he likes Hank at 60-65 games I hope he isn’t forgetting about how many games he will play in the Olympics.
    5. 40. 20 goals and 20 assists sounds about right albeit a little optimistic.

  10. John says:

    Can someone please explain all the comments suggesting that Nash may never come back? Am I missing something? More guys come back after concussions that not. Is there info out there I am not aware of?

    • Walt says:

      I said it, and the only reason I did is that concussions are tough to get around. First of all, once you have one, you more than likely will get a second. Then depending on how severe it is, remember Mike Sauer, his looked begnin, and it ended his career. Again, concussions are tough to deal with, and can’t predict long term what the person involved will experience!

      I hope I’m dead wrong, PLEASE let that be the case!

      • Chris F says:

        I think a couple factors are at play here that suggest, though in no certainty, that Nash could be out a long time, if not the season.

        1) The fact that it was a relatively “innocent” looking elbow to the head (in other words, low-key), and yet he’s been out this long already.

        2) The lack of any comment by the team. They’re not saying he’s improving and they expect him back soon. They are very quiet on this. They were also very quiet about Sauer’s and we all know how that went.

    • John says:

      Thanks guys! Obviously it is just speculation. I’m going to speculate the other, more positive, side. Many people have been concussed and come back to have great careers and no more concussions. We need Nash this year. He’ll be back!

  11. WilliamW says:

    1) Yes. A consistent season and a sizable cap increase. Will be a tough decision if that’s the case but I can see it going either way plus my 2nd answer
    2) Girardi. He’s supposed to be an all-star and MDZ isn’t. Think the organization wants McIlrath in NHL next year and these are the two spots open. Girardi at $5 million for 4+ year worries me. That will be market for him
    3) Same Hagelin as the past two years. A bit more finishing would be nice but I’m a fan as is. Over 40 points would be a bonus
    4) 15 or so. That’s Hank playing 80% of the time
    5) Yes he’s here to stay. 40 points would be great but I’m not sure he stays in the top 6 when Nash / Cally return. Hagelin-Nash pairing works great and I like Richards on the wing

  12. Centerman21 says:

    The Flyers just acquired Steve Downie from Avs for Cam Talbot. Downie would’ve been a good grab for Sather. A little more expensive but over Pyatt he’s worth it IMO. I wonder if the Avs would be looking to move a Center for a defenseman since they have McKinnon now. (ie Stasny-OReilly). The latter cannot be traded until February though after that whole mess with Fester (the mess) sending him a generous offer sheet. After which he would have had to clear waivers.

  13. Chris F says:

    *Max Talbot.

  14. Spozo says:

    You said Tortorella was the reason Kreider broke his ankle. I disagreed. We made a deal that if Kreider blocked a shot this year that you would say hockey happens and Kreider will block shots regardless of who the coach is.

    • Walt says:

      If that’s what I said, then so be it.
      Hockey happens, there I said it!!!

    • bernmeister says:

      TORTS WAS A BULLY WHO WAS WRONG.

      THE OPENING ABERRATION ASIDE, RANGERS HAVE SHOWN THEY CAN PLAY GOOD SMART DEFENSE WITHOUT ALL THESE BLOCKED SHOTS ATTEMPTED EVERY SINGLE EFFIN PLAY.

  15. Kevin says:

    1. Ask me again in February
    2. John Moore is making DZ obsolete, and he has more value trade wise, but Girardi being exposed as a product of McD/Staal is disconcerting
    3. To get ALL of the Corsis…all of it
    4. I said on twitter that I’d be down with Cam Talbot getting 30 starts this year
    5. I’d say 25-30 point range for Kreider, and yeah, he’s here to stay

  16. branted says:

    I say 25-30 GOALS for Kreider!

  17. bernmeister says:

    Are there any circumstances in which the Rangers can seriously entertain keeping Brad Richards beyond this season?
    UNCONDITIONALLY NO, IT IS A TERRIBAD CONTRACT. NO MATTER HOW WELL BR PLAY IMPROVES, IT COSTS TOO MUCH AND THE CAP SPACE/ROSTER FLEXIBILITY IS WORTH A LOT MORE.

    Bigger cause for concern: Dan Girardi or Michael Del Zotto?
    TRADE BOTH.
    DG IS NICE, BUT IF TORONTO WILL GIVE MAPLE LEAF 1ST FOR HIM, THAT’S THE KIND OF 2 STEPS BACKWARDS 8 STEPS FORWARDS DEAL WE SHOULD BE MAKING TO COMPETE IN A YEAR OR TWO WITH THE DEEPER CLUBS, LIKE CHICAGO, LA, ETC.
    MDZ IS ODD MAN OUT CAUSE NO ONE WILL TAKE STAAL WITHOUT EXTENSION AND MOORE IS CHEAPER, DOES RD AS OFF SIDE. DON’T GIVE HIM AWAY! BUT BY ALL MEANS, ADD AND GET A SUBSTANTIAL RETURN.

    What are your realistic expectations for Carl Hagelin this season?
    DEPENDS ON WHO HIS LINE MATES ARE.
    IF HE STAYS HEALTHY, HIS SPEED WILL HELP W/WHATEVER SHIFT HE PLAYS.

    How many starts should Cam Talbot get out of the remaining 71 games?
    TO KEEP HIM SHARP AND HANK RESTED, I WOULD, AS A RULE OF THUMB, LITERALLY ROTATE EVERY GAME. IF YOU WIND UP WITH A MATCHUP LIKE L. OWNS THE CAPS, FOR EXAMPLE, IT WON’T KILL HIM TO GET IN AN EXTRA GAME.

    How many points will Chris Kreider score this season and is he here to stay?
    HE IS 100+% HERE TO STAY, HIS POINTS DEPEND ON LINEMATES (SHOULD BE PLAYING LW W/MILLER AT C AND CALLY OR FAST AT RW; ALSO, IT WOULDN’T KILL ANYONE THREE SHIFTS A NIGHT TO HAVE HAGELIN MILLER KREIDER ON [OFF] RW, OR HAGELIN KREIDER MILLER W/CK RETURNING TO POSITION OF HIS YOUTH) AND ALSO DEPENDS ON RANGERS IMPROVING PP BY GETTING AN RD WHO CAN SHOOT FROM THE POINT.

  18. Lou says:

    Richards contract = richie gone.

    Girardi is not great but MDZ gotta go! We need a mean Dman with a shot …..bring in Bfyluien. Trade MDZ and Fast for Buff!

    Hags is solid defensively and can create offensively. No, not a 1st line player; but a solid 2nd or better yet 3rd line wing.

    Talbot is inexperienced. Play him in games against weaker competition and leave Hank to carry the load.

    If Kreider keeps playing this way, we all should thank Torts for being such an ass. In sports, sometimes the slap works better than the pat :)

    3 needs moving forward…healthy players; mean Dman and power forward.

    Gone = Pyatt, MDZ, and Brassard (all too soft for any playoff run).