Nov
26

About that win against the Flyers

November 26, 2016, by

henrik lundqvist

It’s a holiday tradition unlike any other: The Rangers/Flyers post-Thanksgiving showdown. In keeping with the tradition, the Rangers showed the Flyers how a real hockey team plays, besting their Metropolitan Division rivals 3-2 in a high-spirited matchup that featured some phenomenal saves by Henrik Lundqvist. All of this should be cause for celebration, but while I hate to be a downer I’m going to come in and rain on the Turkey Day hockey parade.

Just to get it out there, front and center for all to see, the Rangers did not play a good game. Their CF% for the game was 32.04%, and the only Rangers skaters with above a 40% individual CF% were Brady Skjei, who played exceptionally given the circumstances, Josh Jooris, and Kevin Klein (no Rangers cracked 50%). For those who are really statistically inclined, xGF% on corsica.hockey, which takes into account things like shot type, distance, and angle of the shot, was 37.12%, which is also, suffice to say, not very good. How on Earth did they win this game then? Two words: Henrik Lundqvist. His save percentage was 95.24% and he made some simply outrageous saves in close that any other goalie would have let in. Once again, Henrik bailed us out.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because things are starting to look a little bit (although I wouldn’t say a lot quite yet) like last year. The Rangers, off to a hot start with some outstanding individual performances, won a large portion of their games and then slowly degenerated into a team that was bounced in the first round of the playoffs. Although it is fair to say that the Rangers lost to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions (who I won’t name here), it’s also fair to say that their performance in that series was abysmal. What we saw last year, with the defense struggling to get the puck out of the zone and limit shots against, is beginning to set in this year, and despite the win I just don’t like it.

All of this requires a few caveats of course, the first being that I myself have written about the Rangers improved play from last season, and I stand by that. The Rangers are in fact producing high quality scoring chances at rate higher than any other team. When they’re on their game, they seem to be the real deal.

Four balanced lines overwhelming opponents, with rock solid goaltending behind them, and adequate defense seems like a solid, but not foolproof recipe for success. The Rangers vaunted transition game works when it’s on, but when those stretch passes are getting cut off, guys are being stood up at the blueline, and opponents are forechecking aggressively to keep the Rangers pinned in their own end, it’s not so great.

My second caveat is this – being displeased by an exciting win over a rival team does not mean I hate the Rangers success. I am more than happy to get two points wherever we can get them, but that kind of strategy is only sustainable for so long, as we saw last season. On the flip side of the coin, there are games where the Rangers play really well and still lose, which can be satisfying in their own right. As fans we all want the same thing and that is for the Rangers to win the Stanley Cup. While we may disagree about how we get there, voicing concern or displeasure over a performance like Friday’s  is simply about wanting the team to be as good as they can be.

It’s also important for me to mention that sometimes you just don’t play well. This is true in any sport, and especially in hockey, where random bounces or chance plays can greatly affect the outcome of a game or series. I have no issue with an occasional blooper, but what concerns me is that this has been more than a couple of games at this point, and stands in stark contrast to the kind of promise we saw early on in the season.

It’s also worth noting that two of our better forwards, Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich are out with injury, which is to say that our team is perhaps not firing on all cylinders as of late. That’s a perfectly valid thing to bring up, and I’m certainly interested to see how this team performs when it’s fully healthy (in addition to the fact that in the few games they played both Buch and Zibanejad have rapidly become favorites of mine).

The point however, is this: The defense is holding the team back, and if AV and/or Jeff Gorton don’t do something about it we’re going to wind up seeing a season like last year. The characters may be different this time around, and the plot may have minor changes to it, but the story will remain the same – a hot start Rangers team slowly fell off the wagon and saw an early playoff exit. For all of our sakes I hope that’s not how it goes.

"About that win against the Flyers", 4 out of 5 based on 28 ratings.
Categories : Rants

37 comments

  1. Ben says:

    Good post. They looked sluggish for much of the game. Krieder seems to have forgotten how to backcheck. This malaise seems to have creeped into nearly all parts of their defensive game, where they’re very reactionary, swinging their sticks wildly, and often not fighting for posession. Very contrary to early in the seaon when they were like magnets to the puck, moving to it, digging it out, and getting it up quickly. I hope they can get that energy level back. They look, in a word, tired.

  2. Jerry says:

    Good post Pat. Far too many lack the understanding that one can still be an avid fan and criticise weaknesses in a team.

  3. Rob says:

    This team is slowly becoming last years Rangers. They are sloppy in their own end, blindly flipping the puck anywhere instead of to an open man. Eventually those pucks end up on opponents sticks and they start to chase. Against good teams those pucks end up in the net. Their D looks slow, seemingly waiting for opponents to forecheck. They are flopping to the ice more and collapsing in front of their goal instead of attacking the puck. Isn’t speed supposed to help them be aggressive in their own end? The O will prevent a collapse like last year, but they will not be genuine contenders until they fix their D.

    • joe719 says:

      And they have 4 months to fix it. They know it! Lets just let it play out. Its only Thanksgiving!

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Joe, as he usually is, the voice of reason. Exactly!

      • Reenavipul says:

        Actually they have 12 weeks or so to fix it, as barring AV having an epiphany by playing McD & Skjei together or playing Clendening instead of Holden on the right(scary concept is my predictive text wrote that for me) it’s the trade deadline or calling Graves up that is what’s gonna fix this D.

        Bank your cap credits trying and keep flailing D from drowning the rest of the team through January

        Shelter Holden & G together until then.

    • Jamie says:

      Yup.That game turned into “throw it randomly to the neutral zone and hope for the best.”

      Ugly hockey. Caveman hockey.

    • sherrane says:

      Perhaps they are devolving to last year’s team, but I’ll wait a while longer before believing that. This was the 5th game in 8 days after coming off a west coast trip. Combine that with the injuries at forward (and the age of the D), and I think I’m being reasonable believing there was a fatigue factor involved. Heck, no team in the conference has played more games than the Rangers and Washington will have 3 games in hand on the Rangers the next time they play (their next game is 12/1 against the Islanders while the Rangers play Ottawa, Carolina, and then are in Buffalo on 12/1).

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Exactly right. Way too early to jump to conclusions either way. Fatigue combined with injuries has affected the effiecency we saw earlier. Let’s get to January and then we should have a better idea.

        Or maybe, I don’t know, have them go pointless in back to back games for the first time before we start saying it’s all falling apart. 🙂

  4. Rangers Rock says:

    The same problems as last year. For one Fast is put on Kreiders line again for 3/4 of the game. Will he ever learn? There is no excuse this year!

    • Richter1994 says:

      Geez, I agree, what is with this coach and Fast? Jesper is a smart player and a perfect 4th line player. The offensive skills are not there for top 9 duty, when is AV going to get this through his thick head?

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        The team is injured. Players move up and take on bigger roles when that happens. It’s not that surprising or that big a deal.

        The Rangers have four lines that aren’t all that different from each other. So to me, what line Fast is on is not as relevant as it would be on a team that’s top heavy.

        • Richter1994 says:

          There are 2 guys that should never be on a line other than 4th line: Fast and Jooris. This is so with and without injuries, in general, unless the rangers are absolutely depleted and are playing guys from Hartford, in my humble opinion.

  5. Richter1994 says:

    Awful game, the Rangers just scored on the few real scoring chances they had.

    King stole this one.

    Injuries happen to all teams, no excuse at all.

    This is not last year’s team, this one is much better but the D needs to be fixed starting with G getting 3rd pair minutes if he’s going to be in the line up. But I would put in Clendening and rotate G an KK.

    • Bobby B says:

      Spot on, D- still an issue, Girardi ( while much better than last year) is no way a 1st pair D-MAN!! Come playoff time he will need sheltered minutes. Lets hope Gorton has another rabbit out of his hat to correct the D-FLAWS. Overall good game, Hank SPECTACULAR !!, we showed grit, did not back down from the bullying, we fought fire with fire.. IMPRESSIVE.

      • Richter1994 says:

        There are a couple of names out there for trade: Shatty (no secret there), Trouba (no secret there), Michael Stone from Arizona, and now Ryan Murphy from Carolina. All puck moving D men that would make the Rangers better.

        Obviously trade cost is an issue for all of them and maybe the last 2 are more “affordable” in a trade cost way. But either one would still be an upgrade over what the Rangers have now. This would be a way of “tweaking” without trading a valuable asset.

        • joe from newburgh says:

          I’m pretty sure that Gorton is working on the details of a trade. Remember, you can’t get something for nothing (well, sometimes you can, like he did with Hayes, Vesey, Grabner, Pirri, and maybe Puempel). Cap considerations, the implications of the upcoming expansion draft, as well as the other team’s asking price all figure into it, and, so far, I’ll give JG the benefit of the doubt.

          • Richter1994 says:

            I agree Joe, Gorton is working the phones and has been. The issue is the trade costs are too high right now as teams do not feel the “need” to make a deal. Patience is the key right now, for sure.

  6. Bloomer says:

    Good to see Henk come up with a solid game. Hopefully we will see more consistent play by him going forward. Fast on the 3rd line again why? He is weak along the boards and doesn’t have a NHL shot.
    If the dmen aren’t making long tape to tape stretch passes from their own end, its because there is nobody open. When the other team bottles up the middle, then Rangers have to adapt and attack down the wings. Changing personal on the blueline won’t necessarily change this, although they still could use a right-handed defenceman who can run their PP.

  7. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    Going into this season, what was the expectations from most of the pundits about the Rangers? It was largely they would regress and possibly not even make the playoffs. Did anyone see NHL.com’s preseason rankings of the the top 50 players in the league? The Rangers had two–Hank at I think 25 and McDonagh barely cracking the list at 47. The Rangers are the only “contender” that did not have a single forward in the the top 50 players….not one! Compare that to the elite future HOF forward talent TB, Was, Pit and Chi has. It’s not even close.

    Warts and all, this team has somehow managed to overachieve expectations at the quarter pole. That is an enormous tribute to the ingenuity of both the GM and yes, sorry to say to you haters, the coach, who once again is taking a good but hardly a great team and getting the most out of it as he certainly did in his first two years behind the Rangers bench.

    Now, I have no doubt that if the poll were taken today, the Rangers may well have more entries in that top 50. This is clearly the most dynamic offensive team the Rangers have had in decades. All well and good. But at this point, none of these players individually are even close to being Crosby, Malkin, Stamkos, Ovie, Kane, and Toews–difference making players that have the rare ability to put a team on its back when the going gets tough. We won in ’94 because we had that iconic player in Messier. We’ve been looking for his successor ever since. Without that, the Rangers will be at a disadvantage in any post season series vs a team with one or more iconic players. That’s just reality.

    Now, as we’ve seen in 2014 and 2015, the disadvange can be overcome. It happens when they become the “no margin for error, whole is greater than the sum of its parts” team we saw 2-3 years ago. This version of that approach is of course different this year because they are no longer primarily about Hank and a shutdown defense covering for a low octane offense. Now it’s about Hank and a dynamic offensive attack that when healthy and clicking can compensate for a defense that, while better than last year, is clearly not as good as what we had 2-3 years ago.

    We saw this early this season. This team was rolling when they were healthy, because while there is no elite offensive talent, they can wear you down with their depth, perhaps better than any other team in the league. But we’ve also seen that when pieces are removed from the equation due to injury or ineffectiveness, wins will simply be more difficult to come by. That’s what we’ve seen over the last handful of games.

    On top of that, the team had played 5 games in 7 1/2 days. That many games plus injuries to Buch and Mika, and possibly Kreider still not fully 100% will take its toll on a team devoid of stars like the Rangers much more so than let’s say the Pens without Hornqvist and Kunitz, simply because Pit always knows they have Crosby and Malkin, two of the best players of this generation, to fall back on. (And by the way, despite that, the supposedly gritty, full of heart Pens have lost 2 of 3 and mostly have looked bad in that short sample, while the supposedly gutless Rangers have found a way to win 2 of 3).

    I say again, if a person could choose any team to coach for one season to have the best chance to win the SC, every coach would choose either TB, Pit, Was, Chi and possibly others ahead of the Rangers. No question. So how is this a “no excuses” year for AV?

    That being said, I’m not concerned very much here at the moment. There’s reason for optimism. The young forwards are incredibly impressive. As Joe said, it’s November. Over the next few weeks, they are going to play a lot of hockey with virtually no time to rest and little time to practice. Because of that, no one should be expecting the Rangers to be clicking on all cylinders right at the moment.

    They don’t need to have it figured out today. They should be healthy by January, and the pace of the schedule lightens up a bit in a few weeks. In the meantime, hang in with what I would expect would be some uneven play for a few weeks, pile up as many points as possible, and then assess what may be out there at the proper time. The Rangers will have lots of cap space to work with prior to the deadline, so a big trade could happen that could bolster the defense.

    I’m not going to overanalyze this at the moment. I’m just going to enjoy another unexpectedly fun season and see where it leads us.

    • Richter1994 says:

      Hey bro, where to begin:

      I really pay zero attention to the “experts” when it comes to preaseason predictions. They have their “faves” like everyone else and have no problem in “wishing” that the Rangers get buried in mediocrity, or worse, non-playoff status. Which is funny because having Lundqvist automatically makes them a good bet to make the playoffs. We knew, as true Ranger fans, that the additions to the forward group was all good and provided excellent depth, so no surprise there.

      The coach issue, lol. You can’t argue the record, but here’s my thing: Even though the record is “good” with both the Rangers and the Canucks at that time, I think he’s still underachieved, overall. I mean you can’t argue some of the head scratching decisions he’s made after the 2013-14 first year (the year I thought he did his best work here).

      I mean he has “shunned” guys, especially D men, that would fit perfectly in his “puck moving system” like Stralman in the past and Clendening now. I really don’t want to hear that Clendening “is not good enough” when we have stiffs/pylons like G and Staal in the line up, 2 guys that cannot keep up with the pace of play at all. Almost any D man that can skate is better than G and Staal, IMO, because, if nothing else, they can keep up with the pace of play in the current NHL. How can you play proper D if you can’t keep up?

      In the 2015 playoffs, I thought AV was badly outcoached by Johnson, Trotz, and Cooper, even when winning the first 2 series. The rangers played a totally depleted Pens team that made the games a lot closer than they should have been, even winning a game in that series against D men that were basically AHL quality due to their injuries at the time. The Caps’ series the Rangers were lucky to win and were one Kreider lucky goal from being ousted. The TB series? No goals in the last 2 home games is criminal, even after scoring 6 in Game 6 in TB and seeing what they saw in Game 5 to get a similar dose of that in Game 7.

      So you can underachieve while still having some success because the bottom line is “winning the Cup” and anything short of that when you have a “Cup worthy” team is underachieving, IMO.

      With this team, as I have said all along so far, if they don’t address the D then this year will be as “successful” as last year, meaning a likely first round exit. This D corps is incredibly slow and immobile as it is now. I mean that was an awful Philly team that was all over them yesterday. Look at the charts for that game. UGLY.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        First of all Richter, just want to say that I thoroughly enjoy our debates. You most definitely keep me on my toes and give me much to think about. Excellent job!

        Now, my retort….

        Ok, fair enough on the pundits. Don’t like their opinions? How about the World Cup coaches? I think the Rangers had five guys selected. TB had, what, 11 guys? We had among the fewest players selected among the playoff teams last year. So even the coaches and executives who know talent know the Rangers don’t have the roster that the truly elite teams have.

        I’m not sure specifically what head scratching decisions you are referring to. Stralman? That was a cap influenced decision made by Sather. Money was the same between him and Boyle, that’s true, but years were a huge difference. You sign Stralman long term and we are in major cap hell that would have had significant ramifications in terms of what the current roster looks like. There is no evidence that I’ve ever heard or seen that suggests AV “shunned” Stralman.

        With Clendening, you are still basing this on a total unknown. What we do know is that FIVE other organizations quickly gave up on him over the past two seasons. That’s a number that should send up huge red flags to all those clamoring for him to get more time and killing AV for not doing so.

        The defense was decent enough when the team was healthy and clicking. With injuries now, the offense has stalled and the defense has been exposed. It is a weakness, no doubt (although still better than last year) and needs to be addressed. But it’s a long shot to believe Clendening is the answer any more than McIlrath was. And now, btw, we are seeing that a Florida team, one where the coach was quoted just the other day as saying how they are not physical enough, won’t play McIlrath. And yet just about everyone out here wanted to fire AV because he was too “stubborn” to play someone who apparently, at the moment at least, is nothing more than a marginal NHL player.

        Cap issues excluded, I can’t think of one player of significance that AV “shunned” here in NY that has come back to haunt the team. So to me, he gets the benefit of the doubt until I see the opposite.

        Your comment about the 2015 playoffs is WAY over the top. The Pens, because they were hurt, decided to sit back and focus on shutdown. And let’s not forget they still were plenty talented. The Rangers adjusted, played the game they needed to play, and won in 5. How was he outcoached? Against the Caps, ok, so I see the narrative. The goals the Rangers got in the clutch were “lucky”. Everything the Caps did was all about Barry Trotz and his phenomenal coaching. This is the same Barry Trotz who has been handed one great team after another in two different cities and never even ONCE has made it out of the second round. That’s the guy you’re talking about?

        With all respect, I’m not sure you are being fair on this. Do you fully understand what happened to the Rangers’ psyche once Zuc was lost in the manner that he was? We didn’t know it at the time, but Zuc’s hockey career and indeed his very life was hanging in the balance for a bit there. Players were quoted later that they went to his hospital bed and left in tears. Hardly any surprise that they fell down 3-1. A lesser team character wise would have folded up. But instead, they rallied, and did so for the second year in a row against some of the greatest players ever to play the game. Thats a credit to the players and the coaches that they stuck with it. That may have been AVs greatest moment, hardly one of his worst.

        Against TB? I do not understand why the AV critics conveniently forget that not only were they without Zuc, but virtually the entire defense became compromised as the series went on. Do you think the ’94 Rangers would have beaten the Devils in the ECF if they had similarly lost let’s say Kovalev, and had Leetch, Bueke, Lowe, Zubov and Wells all compromised? The Rangers only healthy defenseman was Kevin Klein, and he wasn’t sharp after the broken arm he had suffered weeks earlier. To me it’s stunning they got as far as they did under these circumstances against an emerging powerhouse team that has far, far surperior talent upfront.

        If a similar situation HAD happened back in ’94, then it would have been up to Messier, Graves, Anderson and others to step up their game and find a way. But the ’15 Rangers had no such forwards capable of doing so. MSL was too old. The others have not proven to be big game players. So how is any of that on AV? Don’t the players deserve at least some of the blame? Or is it more of the same narrative. Rangers win….because of the players. Rangers lose….because of the coach.

        I find it hilarious that people think Cooper is this great coach that is so much better than AV. Look at the past three years. They’ve had virtually identical records both in regular season and post season, and I have no doubt that any NHL talent evaluator would take the Bolts roster over the Rangers–espevcially the last two seasons as well as this one. To me, it’s Cooper with a far better roster to work with who has underachieved, not AV.

        Maybe you can argue in Vancouver he had the better team in ’11 (to me that’s still more about goaltending but whatever). But in NY, he has not had a team that was better than the teams he lost to.

        However my friend, your last paragraph I think you inadvertently proved my point. The defense by your own admission is not good enough. And yet, despite that fact and some injuries at the moment, they still have one of the best records in the league, not to mention enormous improvement on special teams. They are the only team in the top 7 in PP and PK. That’s the very definition of overachievement, not underachievement.

        It’s up to Gorton to fix the defense with personnel upgrades. Not AV.

        • Richter1994 says:

          Bro, I will say likewise as to the quality of the debates, you know your stuff and you make me think as well. I read your narrative several times to ensure that I respond appropriately.

          The pundits? Ok we agree.

          Stralman. Ok I know you have “inside info” as well as I do, but in different ways and sources. I had it on very good info that the Rangers simply blew it on Stralman. Sather, who was really in charge at the time, was still in his “dinosaur” mentality and didn’t think that Stralman was “tough enough” to play here, so they did not want to commit a long term deal to Anton, even though Stralman “begged” the Rangers to re-sign him, through his agent. Stralman instructed his agent to take the TB offer, go back to the Rangers and say “if you match it then I will re-sign.” The Stralman camp heard “crickets” so they signed with TB. And I really do not agree with you on being in “cap hell” if Stralman did sign here because the Rangers signed Boyle for the same cap hit and then also traded for Yandle who’s cap hit was over $4M per. It’s the same $$, different players.

          How closely do you watch the games? I am asking seriously. I have gone to just about every home game so far this year and I will tell you that Clendening did nothing wrong to be taken out of the line up. He was always moving the puck forward, making crisp passes, and was a good puck mover on the PP. AV comes up with “inefficient touches” as his “reason” for Adam to come out of the line up. Really? Does he use that barometer for every time Girardi passes aimlessly in the D zone or worse gives the puck away. Double standard and it really annoying quite honestly. You can’t be putting only certain players under the microscope when your faves are choking at the bit constantly, putting the Rangers back on their heels in their own end. Again, it’s not how great Adam is but he’s better than G and Staal the way the NHL is played these days, and the charts support my argument. Clendening plays AV’s puck moving style so why not get him in?

          The Pens’ series in 2015. You’re correct, the Pens were so depleted that the only way they even stay in the games was to play a plodding and trapping style of play, a 2-1 or 3-2 type of game. How did the Rangers adjust? They didn’t. AV “insisted” on the pretty passing style that doesn’t work against trapping teams in the playoffs. Dump and chase with intense forechecking to force turnovers by a bad Pens’ team was the proper formula. Never happened and it was an aggravating series even though they won it.

          The Caps’ series. Come on bro, the Kreider goal wasn’t lucky? I was sitting in my seats so depressed thinking we were done and then lightening strikes with seconds to go in Game 5 that would have ended their season. And then somehow they win that series. Yeah, that was lucky but we will take it.

          The TB series. Funny how Ranger fans look to the injuries as a reason why we lost that series. Didn’t they have the same injuries when they totally dismantled TB in Game 6? A complete drubbing? You can’t cry “injuries” one game and not another. Game 5, TB shuts them out. Ok, it happens. Game 6, what do the Rangers do? Go to the net, crowd Bishop, and make him go side to side. The result? They drop a “6 spot” on them. Game 7. McD has ankle issues and is having trouble skating, and has to miss warm ups. At that point, Captain or not, you have to seriously think about scratching him. The guy can’t skate!! So what does the coach do? Adds Hunwick to the line up as a 7th D, scratches Sheppard (who scored the Game 6 winner), and keeps no use Tanner Glass in the line up. I said to my friend at the game that if the Rangers did not score in the first 10 minutes of the game then we would not win the game. He looked at me as if I was nuts. Well, the Rangers did NONE of what they did in Game 6. No going to the net, no crowding of Bishop, and what was worse, the coach rendered a part his line up useless because he benched Hunwick 4 minutes into the game, did not use Glass for most of the game, and had to cut to 3 lines because of the extra D man he dressed, not to mention that McD could barely skate throughout the game. Cooper did the same thing in Game 7 as he did in Game 5 and our coach did nothing about it. Yeah, it’s on the coach.

          And yes, the current team is flawed. We all know it. The D corps is bad, let’s come clean on that. It would never hold up in the playoffs against the better teams. That’s not the coach’s fault. BUT, he could play the cards he’s dealt in a better way. G should not be on the top pair, no way, but AV insists on continuing with it. Why? Put Skjei on the top pair. He played the right side most of last season at Hartford. Even with a flawed roster, it’s the coach’s job to manage his players as best he can and I don’t think he does.

          • ken in sarasota says:

            Eddie, Richter,
            I read this blog daily. Love it. I don’t usually comment, but get a lot of “food for thought.” Just want you two to know how much I appreciate your comments and the respectful way you disagree. Keep it up and thanks.

            • Richter1994 says:

              thank you Ken, hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving. Eddie is a very knowledgeable Ranger fan, for sure.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                Ken and Richter, thank you both. Gentlemen like you make this blog the best that it is. I learn so much for all of you. Just so great to be able to have great discussions about our beloved Rangers. Whether we agree or not!

                My reply, Richter, is forthcoming! 🙂

          • Jamie says:

            Bingo. The loss of Stralman while keeping Girardi was the original sin of this group.

            And “inefficient touches” … Friday’s game was one long inefficient touch.

            • Richter1994 says:

              LOL, I agree Jamie, the Rangers made an awful Philly team look great, huh? Let’s put certain players nder a microscope while letting others get big minutes when they can’t play period.

              Makes perfect sense, right?

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            Richter, great points as usual. My thoughts….

            Stralman– you are correct about most of what you are saying. Where you are missing my point is about the length of the deal. If they had signed Stralman, we are in year three of a five year deal with him. But not signing him, we are now out of that commitment to Boyle and have cap space. So basically, Sather gambled on a short term play to improve the PP and at the same time, get cap space for the future. It was the same concept they used in the Cally-MSL analysis. Make the short term play and then have more cap flexibility to make other moves down the road. It was a logical approach, but it wasn’t fully succesful because the proverbial gas tank hit “E” a little early with MSL, and while I certainly don’t think Boyle was as bad as portrayed here, he clearly wasn’t a good signing.

            My point is if we had signed Stralman, today, our cap situation is much worse than it currently is. Could we have re-signed Stepan or Zuc if we had signed Stralman? I’m sure they looked down the road and assumed Kreider might command a big payday by now. They really couldn’t commit to Stralman without it affecting other future decisions. So, to me, it wasn’t simply about preferring one player over another.

            On Cledening, truth be told, I didn’t have the chance to watch every minute of every game in October and early November due to my work commitments. So yes, I have to confess I only saw brief snippets of his play.

            But that being said, I think it’s a little early in the season to decide that one of your alternate captains, someone who is beloved and admired in the dressing room, is effectively done. You make the decision today to sit him regularly for the likes of a journeyman nobody like Adam Clendening, all I have to say is, you’d better be right about that. Because if not, you probably will need to get your resume together. This team is a very close knit, and that is the quickest way to lose the room. I’m not saying that such a decision may need to happen sooner rather than later. But I’m sorry, while I understand what the fancy stats say, Girardi is still a key part of the emotional fabric of this team. He’s had his ups and downs this year. He played a really good game vs the Pens Monday. If I’m AV, I’d need to see more before I sit him. And if I have points in the bank, which the Rangers do, I’m willing to ride this for a bit longer. I’d much rather have a trade made for a quality replacememt and then have the discussion with him about a redefined role. He deserves better than to sit for a marginal player, especially since the team is winning.

            It is a fallacy to believe that all players are treated equally by any coach on the pro sports level. Every coach has their favorites. This is hardly unusual.

            Pens–You watched lots of games that season. Shutting down the Rangers “attack” that season was no great coaching feat. The Rangers were a defensive first, pass happy team with few finishers, especially once MSL went into sharp decline. They won in 5. How is the coach “culpable”? Should they have won in 4 straight by 4 goals margins each game? (Just curious, do you also believe Torts was outcoached by Ottawa in 2012 when we went to 7 games against the 8th seed? Was Keenan outcoached by Lemaire and Quinn because the Rangers barely got by the Devils and a mediocre Canucks team?)

            Caps–sure, there was some luck involved. Hardly unusual in a playoff series. Were the Rangers also lucky in 2013 vs the Caps thanks to Joel Ward? Were they unlucky in the SCF vs the Kings? How lucky were the Rangers on Matteau’s goal, or Nathan Lafayette’s non-goal? It’s part of the game. So were they winning in spite of AV in Games 6 and 7 of the Caps series? Were those games “luck” too? And you conveniently omitted the emotional toll that the Zuc injury created. To quote you my friend….”come on bro!” 🙂

            TB–i think you are being way too black and white here. Injuries were most certainly a factor, especially for that no-margin-for error Rangers squad that had to have just about everything working in order to win. Just because they had won three games doesn’t mean there weren’t tremendous obstacles to have to deal with just to get to a Game 7. You can overcome for only so long on sheer will and heart, which is what they did.

            Now Game 7. Think about what you wrote here. The coach was handed a nearly impossible no win scenario. McDonagh COULD skate, but only once the freezing process had taken hold. Somehow, it wasn’t effective when they first tried it. None of us were in the room to understand exactly what happened or what the thought process was, but to me, I’m sure they most certainly considered all their options, including making McDonagh a late scratch. But most likely, in consultation with Rammer, they all felt that McDonagh could eventually play.

            So here’s the choice AV was faced with. Play a compromised McDonagh, but to do so you need the safety net of dressing Hunwick and going with one less forward. Or you sit your captain, which has significant ramifications emotionally and otherwise to the group, all so you can dress the legendary James Sheppard, who, as it turns out, WOULD NEVER PLAY ANOTHER NHL GAME!!!!!!!????? You’re saying that James Sheppard would have been the difference maker?!?! I have absolutely no doubt, none at all, that if we presented this case to all 29 other coaches in the NHL, and asked them what they would have done, that every single one of them would go with the scenario AV went with.

            So by that thinking, should Keenan have not played Brian Leetch in Game 7 in 1994 since he had a separated shoulder?

            Should Red Holzman have not played the Knicks captain, Willis Reed, in Game 7 in 1970, with a damaged knee he could barely walk on?

            And oh, by the way, you cineventiently forget that Tanner Glass got one of the assists on the James Sheppard goal you mentioned in Game 6. You could certainly make the case that Sheppard should have played instead of Glass, but seriously, both were nothing more than marginal players. Which of them should have played, to me at least, is totally irrelevant to the utilmate outcome. What was relevant is exactly what you said. The Rangers offensively were a non factor. That’s on Kreider, on Nash, on MSL, on Stepan, on Brassard, etc. Truly great players rise up when their team needs them most. They didn’t do it. Our forwards were a total no show in two crucial home games, and as a result, we lost. Pretty simple. How is that specifically on the coach? Does the coach get the credit then for Game 6 and the other wins? Or just the losses?

            And again, shutting down the Rangers “attack” that year was no great coaching feat. Despite their success in the standings, teams were doing it with regularity and had been doing that for years with this group of pass happy non shooters. (fortunately, that narrative seems to have changed this year, but I digress)

            I do find it curious that you and others are so fascinated with the players on the margins. If only James (Kloten Flyers) Sheppard had played. If only Dylan (can’t crack the Panthers lineup) McIlrath had played more. If only Oscar (bad hip) Lindberg would play. If only Ryan (career minor leaguer) Bourque had played. If only Adam (6th organization in 2+ seasons) Clendening would play. And on it goes.

            Yes, of course, players on the the margins can make a small difference, but great players render those decisions somewhat irrelevant. To me, I’m much more focused on when will Kreider become truly great and consistent? Is this the beginning of something really special for Miller and Hayes, and are both of them preparing to ascend into the conversation of best forwards in the NHL? Is Rick Nash going to have a bounce back 30-35 goal season? Will Derek Stepan stay healthy and become the productive player the Rangers banked on? If those things happen, and then a trade to bolster the defense, then the Rangers will have a great chance to do something special this year. It won’t likely be because marginal players like Clendening play or don’t play.

            Always a fascinating discussion my friend!

            • Richter1994 says:

              I gave you a thumbs up even though I don’t agree because your responses were well thought out (just misguided is all, LOL) and I think we have taken up enough space in this thread, lol.

              I have answers ti everything you said above but it would be another “long one” lol.

              Great back and forth bro!!

    • supermaz says:

      Any list that doesn’t have Nash in the top 50 players is moronic.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Not off of last year’s dismal performance it isn’t. Remember, we are talking top 50 players. Not top 50 forwards.

    • JoeS. says:

      Excellent job, Eddie! Absolutely could not have said it better! I’m on the enjoyment wagon, as well! Heading to the game tonight v Ottawa, should be fun.LGR!

  8. Peter says:

    Thanks to the folks who commented today. Thoroughly enjoyable article and comments.

  9. Craig says:

    Friday nights game, no doubt Hank pulled it out for us. That happened a lot last year when our goalies won a number of games for us. That is not really the case this year. The Rangers have been winning with speed and backchecking, along with quick puck movement. That is a good formula to win hockey games even if the defense is mediocre. My bigger concern about the defense, is if there are injuries. There is very little depth or experience on the Wolf Pack. For now I am enjoying the fact that the Rangers have knocked off a number of elite teams so far, lead the league in offence, and are 15-6-1. The speed up front has compensated for any weaknesses on defense and with this formula we are WINNING! That’s the bottom line, but we definitely need at least more depth on defense.

  10. amy says:

    what you saw Friday was a bounce back game last night was a bad effort by the boys hopefully tomorrow night will be a better effort