Dec
04

Weekly Preview: Metropolitan Matchups on the Road

December 4, 2017, by

The Rangers won’t be seeing this face

The Rangers enter another week of work with just three games, two on the road, but both within 400 miles of the bright lights of Broadway. The Rangers will be facing divisional rivals, first in Pittsburgh, then in Washington, and finally the Devils… and these are not the matchups that we’re used to in years past.

The Metropolitan Division is extraordinarily tight, with the top six teams separated by only five points. Of course, only about a third of the way through the season is not the ideal time to discuss playoff seeding, but it’s likely that this will be a nail biter all the way through April. Here are the standings as of last night:

Keeping the intensity of the division in mind, the Rangers really need each and every point they can get. Let’s take a look at how these matchups work for the Blueshirts this week.

Tuesday, December 5 at Pittsburgh Penguins (15-10-3):

The Penguins have spent the past week making up for lost points, winning their last four and planting themselves right back in the Wild Card race. They could probably be seen as an example of how a good streak can get a team right back in, the same way the Rangers did a few weeks ago. Oddly enough, the winning streak continued despite the Penguins losing their starting goaltender, Matt Murray, to an Voracek-induced lower body injury.

Tristan Jarry is the new goalie in Pittsburgh, and has given up just one goal in his two starts so far. Granted, he’s seen forever-inept Buffalo in back-to-back contests, but it’s worth noting that he’s off to a hot start. Luckily, the Rangers can cash in on this backup situation should they continue with their hot offense. This is a winnable game for the Rangers, even without Mika Zibanejad.

Friday, December 8 at Washington Capitals (15-11-1):

The Caps are ahead of the Rangers by only one point, but they’re pretty hot right now, with five wins in their last seven games. They have a busy week ahead, playing two in a row on Tuesday and Wednesday, but are home for all of them. The point here is that what the Rangers will see is likely what the Capitals are.

Braden Holtby is still irritatingly good, sporting a .919 save percentage, and Evgeny Kuznetsov is leading the team in points. The team themselves are not very good with possession. Should the Rangers continue an offensive onslaught, and keep it up for sixty minutes, they can certainly win this game and jump over the Caps in the standings (should all other factors stay the same). The key here will be to avoid penalties, thus avoiding Alex Ovechkin from his home on the left faceoff circle.

Saturday, December 9 vs. New Jersey Devils (15-7-4):

Here’s the difficult matchup of the week, which still feels strange and dirty to say. Despite our best efforts to send bad vibes their way, the Devils keep on rolling this season. The only semi-positive bit of news is that Adam Henrique was traded for Sami Vatanen (sorry Dave), so we might not have to hear about 2012 for once in our lives.

The last time these teams met (on October 14), the Rangers lost 3-2 to backup goalie Keith Kinkaid, who has proven to be a formidable option in Newark. The Devils will be on the second half of a back-to-back, as will the Rangers, so the goalie matchup is a total crap shoot at this point. What we do know is that the Rangers play extremely well at home, and playing the Devils is always a reason to light a fire under their behinds. Despite young talent, I think the Rangers will benefit and be able to take this one.

Predictions:

NYR 3 – PIT 4 (OT)

NYR 2 – WSH 0

NYR 4 – NJD 2

The Rangers have the potential to do some damage this week while also resting up some banged up players, thanks to a light schedule. Though two of these will be road games, something the Blueshirts are not familiar with this season, they’re close and familiar enough that it shouldn’t be too troublesome.

What do you think this week will look like?

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14 comments

  1. Richter1994 says:

    This is a big week, right? Again it’s only December but now the Rangers will start playing division rivals and having road games on a regular basis from here on out, as they played almost 45% of their home games already (18 out of 41).

    Big time trade for the Devs, actually great trade for both teams. Vatanan is a very good D man and it looks like some of the Devs’ young players/new acquisitions can make up for the scoring.

    The worst thing that can happen is that the Rangers are at .500 around the trade deadline because then you’re in the “we can make the playoffs” mode but may not be realistic as to the actual results the team may have. I hope that they are either entrenched into a playoff spot or painfully out of it by then. Probably not though, lol.

    • Walt says:

      Richter

      Agree with post, but no matter what decisions are made, there are two camps of fans that either one, or the other will be dissatisfied with whatever moves are made! This is indeed the most interesting part of the schedule so far this season………..

      • Richter1994 says:

        Hey bro.

        Of course, that’s what makes sports fun. I really have no problem with a true rebuild as this team is not a Cup contender by any means. They do not dominate in any area (other than in goal which is where they have a chance every game) to compensate for the other area.

        I want guys like Pionk, Lettieri, and DeAngelo up to see if they can sink or swim. Playing stiff vets is counter productive to any long term success. At least if you play the kids and find out that they are not capable then you can try to “fix it.” By not playing them the Rangers are in the dark about them.

        • Walt says:

          Again, you’re singing my song. You know how much I’m big on kids, and really don’t care for old retreads who just go thru the motions, grossly overpaid, and under perform.

          Rebuild on the fly is OK, but to get really good talent, we have to go thru the draft, and build that way. They say that this up, and coming draft is deep, why not address the positions that need upgrade with some young kids, who will be with you long term rather than going for the justo with old farts, who if lucky may get you into the next round before they Peter out.

          This past draft we got two quality kids at the center position, one who may be a real stud, and they are both still in their teens. Along with the likes of the players you mentioned, and the Day kid, the future could look real bright for years to come!

          • Richter1994 says:

            I don’t get the argument about playing vets that are making mistakes left and right.

            There may not be much difference between Holden and Shatty in defending, but Shatty is an almost point a game D man, Holden is not. There’s the difference so Shatty is doing what they got him for. Holden has no value.

            So how much “worse” can a guy like Pionk or DeAngelo be? Guys that can SKATE? Is it that they’re “not ready” or simply being blocked by a stubborn mule coach that will play vets at all costs? And we know that the cost has been high.

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              I would agree 100%….IF the guys in question can actually PLAY in the NHL.

              You have said in the past “In Gorton We Trust”. So, are you saying you don’t trust Gorton (and by extension Drury) to judge talent on the AHL level and have the ability to judge whether said talent is ready to play in the NHL? In that a basic pre-requisite of the jobs they both have—to know when those players are ready? If that’s the case..that they don’t know what they are doing, then don’t we have even bigger problems?

              We already know that ADA has been having a hard time even cracking the AHL lineup on one of the weaker teams in the league. On what planet does that make ADA ready to contribute in any meaningful way on the NHL level? Pionk, I don’t know one way or another. But I certainly haven’t heard anything that screams—“bring him up”.

              I will say this until I am (Broadway) Blue(shirt) in the face—there are very few organzaitions that will bring up players that aren’t ready just to “give them a look”—unless there are injuries and there is simply no choice. Or if the team is hopefully out of the race and there is no real downside.

              Look at the Rangers track record in these matters. Have they ever, in the last few years since Gorton was in charge, and even beyond, made the wrong choice with a young player that went on to shine elsewhere? I can’t even think of one time. I think we should trust the front office on this. They obviously know the limitations of the veteran guys you mentioned. Wouldn’t the young players be better off working on their game in the “A” for another month or so (or whatever their timeline is) and then recall them when they are hopefully better players then they are now, rather then force feed them into something they are not ready for?

              I trust management to make the right call here, because when it comes to evaluating their young talent, they have a lengthy track record of being right.

              Patience my friend. We have the best record in hockey since 10/31. It hasn’t been perfect, but what the team is doing right now is largely working. You only are going to change what’s working IF you know there is an opportunity to clearly upgrade. Obviously today, December 4th, 2017, Pionk and DeAngelo are NOT better options than Holden. In fact, I have no doubt that if all three players were put on waivers today, putting salary cap considerations aside, I would bet anything that Holden would be more highly valued than the young kids.

              One last point…didn’t we all just have these same arguments involving Girardi vs Clendo or McIlrath? We all know what the end result was there. Girardi is playing for a team with legit SC aspirations. Clendo and McIlrath are AHL players. Management was right…again.

              Trust the process….the Rangers have a good track record in that regard.

              • Richter1994 says:

                I admit that I am not on solid ground here because we are dealing with the “unknown.” My “calls” for young players, admittedly, stems more from what we see now with current vet players than what the young players may have shown in Hartford.

                I don’t know what’s going on with Graves. They hang onto this guy, giving the impression that he is part of the Rangers’ future, but never gets mentioned for a call up. I have to believe that he is a trade chip as part of a package at some point.

                Lettieri, from what I have been reading, sounds like he can play. Would he really be a downgrade from a guy like Carey? Certainly I think he should be playing ahead of Boo who I always thought was not an NHL caliber player.

                “We have the best record in hockey since 10/31.”

                What does that really mean? Other than getting them back to .500 for the season? This is the “easy” part of the season, a lot of home games, little travel, a lot of non-divisional games, etc. They’ve played 44% of their home game schedule already.

                NOW starts the hard part. More travel and more division games. This week is a test, even though it’s only December. That was a great move by the Devs to get Vatenan. They are quietly building a winner there, with one of the most underrated goalies in the league.

                Like I always say every year, let’s see where we are in January.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                Now on just about all of that, I agree. The only thing I would disagree on is Lettieri. I’ve read some things somewhere that say he’s been pretty much “meh”, at best.

                That’s the problem. I am all in favor of promoting guys who actually can play. I’ve been hearing about Graves forever. He may be nothing more than a career minor leaguer at this point. The other guys may need more AHL time. Or maybe, we’ve missed the boat altogether here and these guys were brought in to provide organizational depth, and that’s all.

                The one guy who we were counting on in the here and now was ADA. It is extremely disappointing that he is struggling so much in the AHL. Hopefully he figures it out soon, but to me, management has to be wondering if they made a major mistake here.

                I said that management has largely been correct. Actually, they were dead wrong about another former first rounder in Etem when they traded for him. I hope ADA is not the Etem situation all over again. You have to wonder why the Bolts and then the Yotes gave up on a kid with such upside so quickly. Maybe they know something that Gorton is now finding out.

                Let’s hope he gets it together or this Stepan trade might be the biggest bust trade we’ve had here in a while.

              • Mancunian Candidate says:

                With DeAngelo it looks like his biggest problem is the guy in the mirror. He’s too talented to stink like he has in the AHL this season, he’s torn that league up in the past. I’d bet money he’s handled his demotion poorly on an emotional level—got nothing but a gut feeling on that—and Vigneault strikes me as the type of coach who’s got no time for emotionally immature pro hockey players. On that score I agree with AV. It’s a shame DeAngelo isn’t doing what he can to force the Rangers’ hand somewhat here. And honestly that one’s not on Vigneault anymore.

              • Richter1994 says:

                Yeah, I agree with MC, ADA’s problem is his head. The kid has the tools, no question, but as we have seen, talent alone is not enough in pro sports.

  2. SalMerc says:

    Devil’s are quite good. I fear their possession game hurts us. If we stay out of the box and escape all first periods at least tied, we have a shot for 5 of 6 points.

  3. amy says:

    this division is competitive you have the Penguins who are the back to back champs but their goaltender Matt Murray is hurt then you have on Friday the Washington Caps who have the great Eight then on Saturday you have the NJ Devils who are playing with confidence so this week figures to be an interesting one lets see what the boys can do

  4. Pete says:

    I am going to take off the rose colored glasses a moment.

    Despite winning some games recently and being a possible playoff team, unless Mika cones back healthy and they tear up the division they should be SELLERS at the trade deadline.

    I love Mike Grabner and Rick Nash. Goodbye guys, thanks for your hard work, but we are sending you to a club who thinks you are the piece to bring them the cup for some really good picks and young players.

    Zucc, if you bring back a first round pick and a good young player to us, even you could be gone and yeah I’d be heartbroken to see you leave.

    Ryan McD, you are a workhorse and you give 110% every game. If you bring back a first rounder and maybe a young hotshot, you could be gone too.

    Holden and Staal, if they can be moved of course they should be.

    Yeah they’d totally suck for the remainder of the season while guys like DeAngelo, Pionk, Leitierri and others try to figure out their game. but then they get in the lottery.

    I just see another first or second round exit coming if they do make the playoffs and I am tired of it.

    What I suggested above never will happen. It is the Rangers after all! 😀

    • Creature Feature says:

      I am thinking the next 10 games determine the fate of this season. They have some truly difficult games ahead. Are they real or just imposters?

      We all know we could use another good young center, so any move should have a return of a high draft pick or a center.

      I still would rather see Letteri on the wing over Carey.

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