Received three good questions over the past few weeks, so hopefully I can provide three good answers as the Rangers continue to surge in the standings.
This really depends on how the Rangers are playing both at the Olympic roster freeze and at the trade deadline. With their recent surge, I don’t think they will be sellers unless they lose ten games in a row and fall four spots in the standings. Since they will be buyers (most likely), I doubt they move Girardi. I understand the concern about getting him signed, but making a big playoff push is more important than getting a good return on the veteran defenseman.
As for Del Zotto, he’s playing much, much better of late. He got moved back to the left side of the ice, and he’s been a force on defense since. That said, I think his days in New York are numbered. He’s been wildly inconsistent this year, and Alain Vigneault has made it clear that he doesn’t trust him as much. AV has also made it abundantly clear that he would rather deal with the same type of play from John Moore –who has significantly less NHL experience– than MDZ.
In terms of value, Girardi would likely fetch two solid NHL ready prospects, a top farm prospect, and a first round pick (think Marian Hossa deal). If the Rangers fall out of contention, trading him would single-handedly retool the team. MDZ’s value is at an all-time low, but a 24-year-old defenseman who has proven he can play in the NHL while producing is still worth a decent amount. I think you can package him and a lower level prospect (along the lines of Ryan Bourque) for a top-six right-handed defender around the same age as MDZ.
Why does this team all of a sudden look so good?
As that horrible losing streak was starting to come to an end, the Rangers were doing a lot more of the little things needed to win games. I think they lost the last two or three games just because the puck wouldn’t bounce their way. PDO (SV%+SH%) generally rounds out to 100, but the Rangers had been hovering around 95 for the first half of the season. This was due to Henrik Lundqvist’s struggles, but also because the Rangers were shooting at an abysmal 5%.
Neither Lundqvist’s poor play (.900 SV%) nor the shooting percentage were going to remain that low. What we are seeing now is Henrik’s regression to his career mean (roughly .920 SV%) and the Rangers finally starting to get some bounces and have pucks go in the net. Usually one or the other will result in a few wins, but the Rangers have seen them both begin to correct themselves at the same time. When that happens, you get a team that looks dominant.
Do you think the Rangers will make the playoffs? The Metropolitan is weak, but the Rangers are very inconsistent.
This is a team that will make the playoffs. Not only are they too good not to make the playoffs, but the Metropolitan Division, save for the Penguins, is a tire fire at the moment. The Flyers showed us last night why they aren’t a lock for the playoffs. The Caps don’t play defense. I don’t believe the Blue Jackets will keep up with their recent streak. The Devils can’t score. The Hurricanes probably shouldn’t have even made it this far. And the Islanders are the Islanders.
Perhaps the biggest difference now is that the Atlantic Division is starting to come back to Earth. Sure, the top three teams are solid teams that are playoff bound, but the rest of the division is a toss-up. Even the Red Wings are being kept alive by the skin of their Bettman points. There is no guarantee that both wild cards come from that division anymore, which bodes well for the Rangers.
Don’t forget you can always email us and ask us questions. We will try to get to them all, and some that require longer answers will wind up in posts like these.