Some Saturday Morning Thoughts

October 28, 2017, by

ondrej pavelec

It’s Saturday morning folks, and the Rangers are almost done with their 10 home games in October. This weekend we have the Montreal Canadiens in Montreal, followed by the Vegas Golden Knights at home on Halloween, and then we return to a semi-normal schedule of mixed home and away games. Given what a long strange trip it’s been, I figured some Saturday morning quick hits were in order to kind of sum up what’s been going on both of late and over these past ten games or so.

  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t respond to the notion that the Rangers’ hot hand is currently Ondrej Pavelec. Pavelec has been just fine, and what we’ve seen from him so far is likely what we’ll be getting from him throughout the season, but let’s not overstate things. He played an ok game against an awful team – it wasn’t even a shutout! If AV is serious about reducing Hank’s workload then fine, but if he’s playing Pavelec because he gives them the best chance to win, well, he doesn’t.

  • One of the most obvious and maybe the most infuriating coaching deficiency over the past month has been AV’s lineup roulette. The total lack of consistency with the lines/pairings, which defeats any chance for chemistry, is simply mind boggling. Especially given how good Pavel Buchnevich has been, especially given that the world is crying out for a McDonagh/Shattenkirk pairing, and especially given that you gave up your number one center for a guy who you just sent back to Hartford. It’s just crazy. Somethings got to give, but unfortunately, per Bob McKenzie’s comments (as discussed this week on the podcast) it may be a trade rather than a coaching change first. Barf.
  • That said, since the Vegas Golden Knights apparently don’t have any intention of actually playing Vadim Shipachyov, the Rangers would be idiots not to at least inquire about acquiring the center. There is a little bit of risk involved in trading for a guy who’s never played in the NHL and who carries a not insubstantial cap hit, but it could be a high risk/high reward situation the Rangers could capitalize on.
  • Even if the Shipachyov thing doesn’t work out, and even if the Rangers don’t fire AV, they should still be kicking the tires on guys like Matt Duchene, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, or Alex Galchenyuk. Obviously you don’t want to pay the rumored price for Galchenyuk of Chris Kreider, but if the right deal can be made then the Rangers should totally go for it.
  • While the Rangers certainly are in dire straights as far as the standings go, it’s not inconceivable that they could right the ship if they play both a trade and a coaching change right. Teams have done it before on both ends of that spectrum, and if the Rangers manage to pull off both then watch out. Of course the most likely scenario is that we don’t make enough of a change (AV to Ruff isn’t great) or overpay for a center, but one can dream.
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Categories : Musings


  1. Mythdoc says:

    Quote: One of the *most obvious* and maybe the *most infuriating* coaching deficiency over the past month has been AV’s lineup roulette. The *total lack* of consistency with the lines/pairings, which defeats any chance for chemistry, is simply *mind boggling*. Especially given how good Pavel Buchnevich has been, especially given that *the world is crying out* for a McDonagh/Shattenkirk pairing, and especially given that you gave up your number one center for a guy who you just sent back to Hartford. It’s just crazy. UNquote

    Pat, you seem upset. Ok, but maybe fewer superlatives and less hyperbole would make a stronger case. This reads more like a tirade than analysis.

  2. Reenavipul says:

    Rangers could deal for Shipachov today and fit it under the cap just by sending Carey down. But if Gorton goes by his MO, it could be Desharnais sent down(or dealt) in order to keep banking cap credits for the trade deadline.

    You would think that only helps if you’re in it to win it, but having those credits helps selling teams with roster spaces. A bad expiring contract on an otherwise contender can get stashed for a pick down the road

  3. Johnny Red says:

    This kind of reminds me of how some parents are with their children: Always pointing out what they’re doing wrong and not giving credit when they do things right. I’m not saying A.V. hasn’t made mistakes but you guys are turning this into an A.V. hate site! The King has not been that sharp in a few games and he usually doesn’t do well in Montreal, (or did you forget that) so why not go with Pavs?

    Maybe it’s because I am a glass half full man. I always count my blessings and remember we’ve had bad starts before. (anybody remember 2014) It’s not where you start a race, it’s where you finish it!

    • Spozo says:

      Every poorly assembled team needs a scapegoat.

    • Reenavipul says:

      You go with Pavelec because Hank is hurt. Everything else is a smokescreen for that.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        What in the world are you talking about?

        This is the 12th game of the season. Pavelec is making his 3rd start. Was it not the goal to play Pavelec in roughly 25 games this season? Pavelec got consecutive starts against arguably the two worst teams in the league. Why is this even a discussion point?

        • Reenavipul says:

          I guess you were too busy with a 3,000 word response about how Albert Speer was just misunderstood to notice Hank getting clipped by Donskoi’s skate on the 3rd goal against San Jose.

          Hank went down, stayed down, was “sore” the next day. TL;DR he sprained his MCL.Two days off after SJ, day between AZ and MTL, and they want Hank to get his rest?

          Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            I love how you like to pretend you’re a medical expert when you haven’t even diagnosed the people in question. Girardi two years ago…you accuse the entire organization of medical malfeasance, when of course that was a bunch of crap. Staal last year, you insisted that he was on his way to LTIR when all the reporting said the opposite (and took me to task for saying so) and then, lo and behold, he was back the next game and we hear nothing but crickets from you on the subject. So forgive me for being skeptical on your 30,000 foot view of these matters.

            Now, in fairness, sure, you could be right. But what do we know for sure? Hank played the remainder of that game, did he not? And while the Rangers have often been cagey about injuries, as most NHL teams are, when Hank has been banged up they usually say so. Why wouldn’t they just come out and say it? And if he was hurt badly enough that he couldn’t play, wouldn’t they call someone up for a few games and not risk Hank playing at all?

            No one knows for sure, but I would say based on the facts here, the likely scenario is simply that Hank has been struggling and he’s played quite a bit more in these first 10 games than they probably wanted him to. So now they dial him back, let him look at film, get some rest and recovery (which, as I recall, you doubled and tripled down your narrative on that very subject last March/April emphasizing its importance, especially with older players), and then he comes back hopefully refreshed and ready for a tough stretch of games in November.

            • Reenavipul says:

              Fact: Girardi did fracture his patella against Vancouver, played on one leg the next game in Edmonton before eventually going on IR.
              Fact, Girardi played markedly worse upon his return from IR, well before the amount of time for the patella to fully heal.

              Like most athletes, I’m sure his medical history is littered with AMA(against medical advice) notes. Unless it’s the concussion protocol, there is nothing a doctor can really do to keep a player from playing if he wants to, short of failing him on his physical(and that doctor would soon not be employed by the club.) It’s up to the coach to not play an unhealthy player when it’s not needed. AV wouldn’t do it, that’s why I turned on AV.

              Been around orthopedic surgeons/sports doctors my whole life, spent a little time assisting athletic trainers, took 2 years of training classwork in college. At this point I can diagnose an injury on TV 95% of the time.

              Hank’s left skate was pushed laterally outwards, stressing the medial collateral ligament. That’s basic anatomy. His reaction to it was telling, because the only thing that hurts worse than a broken bone is a ligament tear. Ligament sprain ain’t much easier. Went down, was in obvious pain, stayed down for a while but got it together.

              Treatment, RICE, NSAID until initial swelling goes down. Maybe a cortisone shot if it was bad. He should be back by the time Vegas comes to town unless there was greater damage. Goalies MCLs already are really flexible because of playing VH style and butterfly, so it’s likely a grade 1 sprain. The danger is if he repeats it, or catches an edge or a post, then he could really damage it.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                Total nonsense. Players play hurt all the time. And who was the alternative that season? Minor League McIlrath?

                There is an old adage when it comes to sports injuries. Can you play through it without further injuring it? I played a half season of baseball with a slight hairline fracture in my wrist. It hurt and I wasn’t as good, but there was no risk going forward beyind managing pain. If there had been a risk going forward, my coach would have shut me down.

                In DG’s case, that was likely the assessment—it would be about managing pain, and Girardi has proven that he is largely impervious to pain. To dump on AV because he trusted a player who could play through some discomfort compared to playing a player who clearly is not a viable NHL option is utterly absurd.

                Despite our frequent disagreements, I respect your background and I try to buy into as much of it as I can. But sorry, I ain’t buying that you can diagnose an injury on TV 95% of the time.

                To your last sentence (he could really damage it), if what you say is true, then why would the Rangers risk their franchise goalie in that way? He is practicing. He could be called on in a game at any moment. If he had a grade one sprain, they would have not dressed him and called someone up. Just like they did last year when he got hurt and couldn’t play. To me, what you are suggesting seems highly suspect.

              • Reenavipul says:

                Of course you read past what I wrote, because you don’t actually care what I write; and yes, McIlrath was easily a superior option than a 1 legged Girardi, “warrior heart” and all. The numbers were there, Girardi flat out sucked upon his return. Much like Staal sucked when he came back from his concussion. You give Staal 4 months to rest and get the fog out of his head and he’s been as steady a defender as they’ve had this year.

                You have written that I smeared the medical staff, I clearly illustrated the limitations of the medical staff per the CBA. Let me give you their incentive(beyond keeping their jobs.)

                They are employees of the club. The players are on guaranteed contracts, so it behooves the club to get maximum utility out of said contracts. Players only go on IR to get roster or salary exemptions. Look at the NFL where contracts aren’t guaranteed. Doc will fail any player’s physical to cut that player once their utility is no longer valued. The only protection a NFL player has when waived during injury is that the club pays his rehab bill upon release.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                “You don’t actually care what I write”. Actually, not so. You and I have had our share of bombastic disagreements, but it may surprise you to learn that I consider you a “must read”. You have exceptional knowledge of the game and I would even venture to say you’ve probably forgotten more hockey than I know. So I actually enjoy “sparring” with you because I know you know a lot.

                But that being said, while I admire your knowledge, I do think you have a tendency to go off the rails a bit when you get angry or when challenged. I have no problem with the whole idea that you are not an AV fan. What I do find bizarre is how deep your “hatred” of the guy is—like he did something to you personally. That I don’t get. He’s been a good coach. Is he perfect? No. Has he made mistakes? Sure. But what coach hasn’t? And it’s not as if he’s been blessed with a wealth of high end talent to work with in NY.

                Now, back to the injury thing. You make some valid points. I’m not in the field so I can’t comment one way or another. But based on what I know from years of conversations with coaches and GMs, and then assessing what I have seen with all the players mentioned below, I have the following conclusions—

                Girardi (bad knee) vs McIlrath— Yes, there were advanced stats that said McIlrath was a viable option. But I think we are seeing that advanced stats do NOT tell the whole story, especially in hockey where the “absolutes” of such analyses are still in their infancy in terms of acceptance. I’ve read articles that have said that teams have their own proprietary way of looking at things, and that what we see is just a partial snapshot.

                Is that true? I don’t know. But what we do know is, McIlrath has been REJECTED as viable NHL option by every NHL team multiple times now. That is an absolute. So would he REALLY have been a better choice than Girardi, even an injured one? I doubt it. But at best, it was probably a push and certainly did not warrant the vitriol that AV received by you and others for not making that choice.

                Staal (post-concussion) vs Clendening— I think here you can make a slightly better argument. I agree, Staal struggled once he came back. But why? Still dealing with the effects? Or did the doctors say he just needed to play his way into shape? The option here was Clendo. At least Clendo has primarily been an NHL-level player, although no one rates him as anything more than a 7D. So do you go with a guy who is essentially a marginal journeyman player, or a guy that, although compromised, has a veteran savvy that the coach trusts?

                I’m not saying your are flat out wrong here. I’m just saying that it is more than reasonable for AV or any coach to have gone the veteran in both cases. And based on everything we have seen from the rest of the coaching and GM community in the league, there is nothing at all to suggest that any other coach would have made a different decision if they had been coach of the Rangers instead of AV. So that’s been my overarching point.

            • Rhodork says:

              If he’s not starting because of lingering injury, the reason they don’t say anything is because he’s still the backup if Pavelec starts and there’s no reason to announce to the other team that anything is even remotely wrong. Probable scenario: He’s healthy enough to play but the precautionary thing to do is give him another day off.

              Even if there’s no injury whatsoever; this day off is no big deal.

            • Reenavipul says:

              A trip in the wayback machine:


          • Mintgecko says:

            A double decker zing…. Nice job but with that said Pavelec will be worst than Biron, I have zero faith in him until he picks up more wins.

      • Hockey Sittoo says:

        Zipay pretty much confirmed Hank had a minor injury. After practice Hank told him his knee was “better.” Sore knee. Montreal house of horrors. Pavs with a good game against the Yotes. Hank sits and rests. Case closed.

  4. roadrider says:

    The “whole world” is crying out for a McDonagh-Shattenkirk pairing? Really? Don’t you mean the cloistered world of Rangers fan bloggers who, as far as I can tell, have no actual NHL coaching or front office experience? That’s not to say that coaches or GMs are beyond reproach by those not in those positions but your claim is a bit over the top especially since Shattenkirk has not exactly been that good outside of the PP. I think are correct statement would be that the preconceived notions of advanced stats mavens about the McDonagh-Shattenkirk pairing did not work out so it must be bad coaching rather than faulty analysis.

    • Go F Yourself says:

      I think it was Joe Fortunato on his most recent podcast that said, “It’s not hard being a hockey coach.”

    • Ed McCarthy says:

      I don’t believe that McD and Shatty belong together at all. I think McD and Brady are an excellent 1st shutdown pairing. I would put 22 on the 2nd pair with either Smith or Pionk (when he comes up). The 3rd pairing at this point, based upon latest performance, should be Staal (he could be moved up, too}and Holden (played more like 1st half of last season lately). I was a hockey coach at all USA Hockey levels for 15 years. I based my lines and D pairs on chemistry and intangibles. I rolled 3 lines and 3 D pairings only using certain combinations in demanding situations, otherwise I let them play. I know it’s different in the AHL and NHL, but chemistry is what it is. If you don’t have it, you’re wasting talent and time. JMHO

      • Reenavipul says:

        McDonagh has not shown that he is a shutdown D this season. He always was a guy who you thought did both ends well enough, but I’m not even seeing that right now.

    • Rhodork says:

      “…the pairing did not work out…”

      They played 4 periods together.

      Guess again.

  5. Bloomer says:

    Shattenkirk has been a cough drop. Yet you want to put him out there on the first pairing against the leagues best snipers. Interesting.

    If AV can’t right the ship then he has to go down with it and take his first mate Ruff with him. Dave Tippett is out there Gorto needs to give him a call. The next move should be a coaching move not a player movement.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Why are you so obsessed with Tippett? He has a resume that makes AV’s look like Toe Blake by comparison.

      But hey, the grass is always greener right? Just like it was in Montreal when they fired Therrien, brought in Julien, a SC winner no less, and the team shortly thereafter unravels to the trainwreck it is now. Or an even better example…what happened when Vancouver showed AV the door and the next coach, another SC winner, crashed and burned and the team has never fully recovered from that debacle. What was the name of that coach again??? It’s on the tip of my tongue….

      • Bloomer says:

        The underachieving Canucks got swept in first round in back to back seasons when AV was shown the door. His legacy was team of fat cats with attitude. Only now that they have completely made over their roster are the Canucks winning again. Lead by AV outcast Delzotto and Dorsett.

        I am sorry that Torts abrasive style was tough on those in the media world. But for us smucks who carry a lunch bucket to work he was adore. Tippett would get the most out of this Ranger squad. He would have them playing honest hard nose winning hockey again.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          You are of course distorting reality here. You could not have asked for a clearer picture of the effect of good coaching than what we saw in the 2013-14 season. Torts has 4+ seasons to deliver and his legacy were mostly borderline playoff teams, the only playoff miss post-lockout, an epic implosion in the 2009 playoffs that caused his young team to blow a 3-1 Series lead, and when the field was cleared for him to make it to the SCF in 2012, he blows it against a very beatable Devils team.

          So he gets canned and AV replaces him, and Torts replaces AV, who had season after season of strong teams (and sure, last two seasons weren’t good in the playoffs, but these were still good teams). What happens? With essentially the same rosters, AV takes Torts team to the SCF, and Torts takes AV’s team into the sewer. And then becomes one of the only coaches EVER to be fired two years in a row! Even Torts was embrassed by his conduct. And nobody wanted the guy. Nobody. The only reason he got hired in Columbus is because they were winless and desperate, and JD felt he could keep Torts under control. So far, it has worked. So far.

          But what has been the key factor in Torts’ most succesful (total of two mind you) seasons post-lockout???—two outstanding Vezina golatenders (Hank in 2012 and Bob last year). So lets not go crazy here on the Torts bandwagon. He’s a good coach when he’s behaving himself. But AV is a good coach too without all the nonsense.

          As for the rest, MDZ has been a thoroughly unremarkable player for his whole NHL career. That trade to get Klein was one of the best trades of the last 10 years by the Rangers. That helped propel them to a SCF appearance and a President’s Trophy. How was that a bad trade? Dorsett? Come on, he’s having an incredible fluky season so far. And he left because of the Rangers needing to manage the cap. But of course, it’s much more fun to make up a narrative that says AV didn’t like him, so sure, let’s go with that.

          As for Torts style, it wasn’t the media that chased him out of town. It was his own players, who had had enough of him. Heck, even last year, the Jackets had to call a meeting when they went into a slump because Torts was starting to lose it.

          Then in addition, his deal was up at the end of this year. The Jackets waited until this summer to extend him, and gave him only a 1 year extension after the season they just had. That’s quite a vote of confidence! They know….going long term with Torts is a big, big risk. Because even JD might not be able to contain him forever.

          As for Tippett, you are essentially arguing that the Rangers should acquire a coach who will get them to “win again”—you mean like AV has been doing for all four years he’s been here? So, fire AV in the hope the next coach can do what AV has been doing each season thus far? Makes perfect sense.

          • RichS says:

            Whether I agree or disagree with you I enjoy reading you opinions…….I mean that sincerely, and being retired I love reading everyone’s opinion on this Rangers blog…….
            Studies have found that the majority of people who receive and read ”’memos, email, notes ”’ read
            a paragraph or two and rarely read the entire post.
            Sometimes less is better and more effective…..and its hard to respond when you present so many points…..
            Meant in a good way!!!

      • Bloomer says:

        You said the same thing last year Eddie when I suggested the Rangers hire Mike Yeo. Apparently he too was a nobody who has never accomplished anything as well.

        Well as it turns out the Blues are very happy with Yeo. And he sure gave AVs Rangers a good spanking when his team was in town a couple of weeks ago


        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          That’s true Bloomer. But he was bounced in the playoffs last year in what, the second round? That’s as good as AV did, and the Blues have far more talent than we do. So far so good this year, but I wouldn’t start banking on that SC parade in St. Louis just yet.

    • Mintgecko says:

      Why Tippett? His dump and give away system won’t fit this team and from what I read he is the poster child of never giving the “kids” a chance to play. JT might be the only one to benefit for a move like this but his DZ coverage and giveaways will put him the doghouse until he rots away.

      I rather see a more aggressive forecheck but still maintaining that puck possession and just suffocate with the 4 lines like what Sutter did with LA.

      • Mythdoc says:

        Agree, Mint, that suffocating puck possession style might work well if AV can’t get the ship righted. Even a guy who can’t shoot well gets goals once the defense and goalie are exhausted and out of position.

      • Bloomer says:

        Sutter would work as well. The teams current make isn’t well suited for Sutter’s grinding style of hockey. Some personal changes would have to be made.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          Sutter, who missed the playoffs 2 out of the last 3 years despite having teams more than capable of making the playoffs? He was canned because he is a dinosaur in terms of the way he coaches. Bad choice. And I doubt be would be interested in coaching again. Just a hunch on that.

    • Rhodork says:

      I agree that the 1st mate should go with the skipper but in this case Arniel is the 1st mate, not Ruff.

      Not saying that Ruff shouldn’t go as well.

  6. Mikeyyy says:

    My thoughts for Saturday.

    Av has a system that takes a year to acclimate to. It’s something we all have seen. Trading now won’t help because they would need to be someone av knows al a. Vancouver trade. The Sedins in New York? Maybe…

    We need to hold our britches high cause it’s gonna get nasty here for a few more weeks. Then we will find out which guys in the A have picked up the system.

    I still don’t like AV. But if canning him is not an option then we are stuck with him for the season. Being realistic here.

    I would advocate for Nash to be 3rd lined. He hasn’t merited a top 6 slot at this point. Buch hasn’t deserved a bottom 6 slot at this point. Hank hasn’t deserved the starting job at this point. Um yeah that’s it.

    Oh yeah Fire AV.

  7. InvalidBeard says:

    Many will disagree, but wondering if it’s not time to cash out on Kreider, if he’s enough to centerpiece a major deal. I love him, but I feel like we’ve seen what he’s capable of, and it seems like he’ll always be limited by poor hockey instincts and no hands, and whatever causes him to flip the intensity switch so randomly. If this is correct, you want to make the move before the rest of the league figures out what you know.

  8. Swarty says:

    Off topic – i watched Torts and Columbus vs Winnipeg last night. Very entertaining game.

    Brendan Lemieux – he is so much like Claude it is scary. Attitude, Skill and Scrappy. Let’s just put him on the shopping list now Gorts. Not the position we need but it’s is the type of hockey we need.

    Boone Jenner – Not flashy – Big, Tough, Strong and always Engaged – plus he is a center. Columbus is not likely to mess with their success until the deadline. Can’t help but think Nash to Columbus will at least be discussed. I’d take Jenner and a draft pick for Nash without any problem.

    Columbus – the Blue Jackets are a good story. I love Torts and it looks like he has kind of settled into his old Lighting self and that is really good.

    Hey – wouldn’t it be nice to have JD in charge of OUR Hockey Operations?

    • Richter1994 says:

      Psycho coaches need to re-invent themselves to be successful, just like people in business need to change their business strategies to stay in business over the long term.

      Tom Coughlin was hated the first year here with the Giants but ended up being the coach that players would run through a brick wall for.

      You can’t stay the same, no matter what you’re taking about. The only thing that stays the same is change.

  9. Richter1994 says:

    I thought the Rangers should go hard for Shipachyov at the beginning of the season and I still think that now. He and Buch would be a match made in heaven.