The Musings: Just how good is the Rangers defense?May 21, 2014, by
The Rangers are within two wins of the fan base going crazy with excitement. With the danger of looking too far ahead, let’s keep it sane and throw up a musings a day early shall we?
So much in sport depends on timing. Success is so often about peaking at the right time. In Henrik Lundqvist the Rangers have the best goalie in the world playing at the very top of his game. A (the?) leading Conn Smythe candidate, the Rangers have a huge advantage when he’s on his game. Right now it’s on fluke deflections that seem to be his undoing.
We’ve discussed it before, but the way he’s elevated his game (even further) in recent weeks it needs saying again; the Rangers have to keep Dominic Moore beyond this season, don’t they? Moore has beyond a strong penalty killer, a great defensive presence and has chipped in with leadership, some offense and filled in admirably for Derick Brassard. He’s a keeper.
Prediction: Ryan McDonagh will win a Norris trophy within the next four years. Not a wild prediction.
It’s worth considering; do the Rangers have the best defense in the league right now? (Form and depth considered). If they aren’t the best they have to be close. They may be absent the sexier names (Chara, Keith, Doughty) but I’m not sure the Kings or Bruins can match the Rangers for depth right now. The Kings have the system but the same talent? I’d say it’s a toss up between the Hawks and Rangers. What say you?
To re-emphasise the above point, who remembers Raphael Diaz? He’s the forgotten man right now but every time he’s stepped in for the Rangers he’s done well. He’s a solid option for the third pairing and the powerplay and there are several teams in the league where’d he’d probably be a second pairing guy.
Brian Boyle is another Ranger who has had a solid postseason and has done everything asked of him. With that considered you have to imagine the Rangers will consider bringing him back next year but at what point is cost prohibitive? If the rumoured cost was 2.5m I’d still bring him back if the term is short. If he wants more then he’d be the Rangers equivalent of former Oiler Fernando Pisani: postseason solider who gets overpaid elsewhere.
Biggest disappointment of the postseason for the Rangers so far? Let me qualify this with the fact that when your team is two wins from a Stanley Cup final you will struggle to find disappointments but for me, John Moore has been underwhelming for a while now. If Anton Stralman stays beyond this summer I can imagine Moore’s place with the Rangers being uncertain. At some point a young player needs to show progression.
Let’s finish on a positive: I have loved Carl Hagelin’s development. He’ll never blow you away with offensive numbers but he does chip in offensively and he’s worked very hard at both ends of the rink. His speed continues to scare people and back defense’s off and he’s really become a reliable player for the Rangers. Hagelin is a great example of the unheralded depth the Rangers boast.