Why can’t the Rangers come out of the East?February 5, 2014, by
Unfortunately, we were not able to get the goal breakdown last night since Dave was traveling for work, Chris was traveling for pleasure, Suit had a hockey game, Becky was working late, etc, etc. Check back later this afternoon for an abbreviated recap.
One of the chief arguments for trading Ryan Callahan and/or Dan Girardi is that the Rangers aren’t a contender this year even with those veterans on board, so the team should trade one or both to set itself up for the future.
The organization has made it very clear that winning now is the goal, a philosophy many pessimistic fans don’t agree with because they don’t see the roster as talented enough to take home the ultimate prize. To me, that’s the wrong way of looking at it.
I’m not saying that there aren’t other perfectly legitimate reasons for moving those valuable veterans – if the team can’t or won’t come to a contract agreement with them, then getting as much as possible in return does make some sense. But I don’t see any scenario wherein the Rangers acquire a player that will be a near-equal replacement for either man, and trading them for future assets (prospects and draft picks) doesn’t help at all for 2013-2014 and doesn’t fit the team’s current plan.
Also, the notion that the Blueshirts can’t be a contender this season is silly. Am I predicting a Stanley Cup? No, but I don’t think the Rangers are that far behind their Eastern Conference foes, Pittsburgh and Boston included. Those two have long been the model franchises of the conference, but I’d take my chances against either in a best-of-seven series.
We’ve seen year after year that Marc-Andre Fleury can’t handle the pressure of the postseason and that alone has been Pittsburgh’s undoing on several occasions. And don’t forget that Pittsburgh has enjoyed a full season of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the ice together – a luxury that’s been exceedingly rare for the Penguins in recent years. If one of them goes down with injury again – a very real possibility – Pittsburgh suddenly looks a whole lot less scary.
As for Boston – the Bruins wiped the floor with the Rangers in the playoffs last spring, but they aren’t quite the juggernaut we’re used to seeing either. Boston has been hot lately and ranks among the league leaders in most statistical categories, but the Bruins aren’t as stacked as they’ve been. Losing defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for the year was a huge blow, and the Bruins have struggled to replace some of the key players they lost over the summer. It’s not that Reilly Smith and Jarome Iginla aren’t having good years, but the four-line meat grinder the Bruins had been in the past is no more.
Both Pittsburgh and Boston are undeniably better than the Rangers, but I think there are reasons to be optimistic that the Blueshirts could hang with them in a playoff series. And remember, it’s not necessarily fair to compare what’s happened between the teams in the past – things have changed dramatically under Alain Vigneault.
Now you’re thinking: “alright, even if the boys have a chance in the East, do you really expect me to believe they can take down the league’s real top dogs: Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose, Anaheim or St. Louis?” Probably not, but I’d at least like to take a shot.
We’ve seen it year after year – anything can happen in the playoffs. It wasn’t that long ago that the Rangers were on the outside looking in every spring, so we should know all too well how lucky a team is just to make it to the postseason. Even having a small chance at swinging a big upset and going on a run can be worth it. The best team doesn’t always win the Stanley Cup, but you don’t get a chance at being that Cinderella story if you don’t bring your A-game to the dance.
There’s a high probability that the Blueshirts will end the season disappointed, the same as 28 other teams. But their chances of getting anywhere near the Cup will be decreased even more if the likes of Callahan and Girardi aren’t on the roster. Trading their rights after the season would result in a much, much smaller return, but since I think they can come out of the East, that’s an unfortunate reality I’m willing to accept.