Jan
15

Weekly Preview: Who The Heck Even Knows Anymore

January 15, 2018, by

Apologies, loyal readers, if the attitude of the BSB staff seems particularly dour right now.  But it’s pretty clear why that is: the New York Rangers have given us nothing to get excited about.

Recent results have been demonstrably mediocre, and the on-ice process has been horrid.  The Rangers, who have not won a game in regulation since December 19 at home against Anaheim, now find themselves in a pickle for playoff positioning.  Here are the Metropolitan Division and Wild Card Standings, as of Monday January 15.

Metropolitan Division Standings – January 15, 2018

Wild Card Standings – January 15, 2018

The Rangers begin the week with two games on home ice, before hitting the road for a four-game west coast road trip.  Let’s take a quick look at this week’s slate of games.

Tuesday January 16 vs. Philadelphia Flyers (20-15-8) – 7:00 PM

Tuesday’s game with the Flyers will be the last Metro Division game the Rangers play for a month, until February 15 vs. the Islanders.  In recent seasons past, the sight of orange and black would bring the best out of the Rangers, but who knows what to expect now.  The Flyers are a formidable opponent, and it seems that they’ve finally sorted out their perennial goaltending issues.  Both Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott are playing above average between the pipes, something the Flyers seemingly haven’t had since the 1970’s.  This has enabled Philly to unleash its young defensemen, Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, who are fourth and sixth on the team in scoring, respectively.  But the show still runs through Claude Giroux, who is having a resurgent season at age 30 with 54 points through 43 games.  With the Flyers hot on the Rangers’ heels for playoff positioning, this one should have the feel of a playoff game.

Thursday January 18 vs. Buffalo Sabres (11-24-9) – 7:30 PM

The Winter Classic seems so long ago, doesn’t it?  That day, the Rangers played a competent hockey game (the bar is low these days, folks), but still needed an overtime power play to vanquish the lowly Sabres.  The snow-globe scenes of CitiField added an aura to that moment, which may turn out to be a high point in 2018.  The Sabres are not a good hockey team, as their record indicates.  Jack Eichel is a game-changer, but he’s gotten very little support.  Evander Kane has become the subject of daily trade talks, as the Sabres continue their years-long rebuild (note, tanking for the top pick doesn’t always work).  The Rangers would do well to win this game, considering the four-game road trip ahead of them.

Saturday January 20 @ Colorado Avalanche (23-16-3) – 3:00 PM

The Colorado Avalanche are one of the more surprising teams in the NHL this season.  A couple of years removed from the chaos and dysfunction of the Patrick Roy era, Colorado is within striking distance of a playoff spot, though it may be a bit of a mirage.  Colorado’s xGF% at 5v5 this season is 46.29, ranking 27th in the NHL.  They rely heavily on their top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, who are the three leading scorers on the team.  Simply speaking: contain the Avs’ top line and you have a good chance of beating them.

Sunday January 21 @ Los Angeles Kings (24-14-5) – 10:30 PM

Daytime hockey on Saturday?  Great!  Late night hockey on Sunday?  Not so great.  So it goes, as the Rangers hit the west coast for the California swing.  Playing the Kings always makes me shudder, even though the 2018 edition isn’t the Cup-winning Corsi monster it used to be.  As a matter of fact, the Kings, like the Avalanche, may also be exposed as the business-end of the season approaches.  Jonathan Quick has played some of the best hockey of his career, and the Kings boast the third best 5v5 save percentage in the league as of 1/15.  Contrast that with some mediocre shot attempt and expected goals numbers, and the Kings are another beatable opponent (I’m sensing a theme here; most of the NHL is mediocre, which is what you get with artificial, salary-cap driven parity, but I digress…).

Predictions

PHI 3 – NYR 2 (SO)

NYR 4 – BUF 0

NYR 4 – COL 3 (OT)

LAK 4 – NYR 2

Leave your predictions for this four-game week of Rangers hockey in the comments.

Categories : Preview

12 comments

  1. joe cafardo says:

    “We’re definitely talking about our process,” was how coach Alain Vigneault answered in response to the question about the quantity of shots against. “We’ll analyze this game and see the areas we can improve.”

    This is code for I have no clue; The GM has no clue; the owner could care less; its not my job to motivate anyone; and I have my favorites on this team who will play no matter how crappy …

    • JERRY MALEY says:

      Or what he probably thinks is….”my team is just not good enough. I don’t have a Stamkos, Taveres, McDavid, Crosby, Mattwews, or a great young gun like that frickin kid from Brooklyn, Brazal. I have a lot of over rated mediocre players who are not Stanley Cup bound.

      It’s certainly what I think..

    • wwpd says:

      let’s call this dog a dog. (a) the rangers rosteris a marginal playoff team at best, and (b) AV is not a guy to get more out of it than the sum of its parts.

  2. Pas44 says:

    Philly is playing hot, we are injured and the players who aren’t are not motivated.
    3-2 loss is pretty hard for me to imagine.

    The Sabres want to show that the OT loss at the classic was one game and they are taking these 2 points on our real home ice. I hope the team is ready for 60 minutes. Oy Vey!

    Less air in Colorado for this team means they may not be skating at all, let’s hope!

    But we will beat the Kings easily once again making us all shake our heads and getting AV another contract extension.

    🙂

    Cheers mates…

    LGR!!! & “Henrik feel free to leave this club”

  3. wwpd says:

    “mediocre” is a generous for a team that has lost three in a row, two of those to major division rivals close behind in the standings, is 3-7 in its last ten games, hasn’t won a game in regulation in a month, and has been outscored 30-17 and outshot 375-324 during that stretch. if they’re not playing like the worst team in the league right now, then certainly one of the worst.

    • Pas44 says:

      Probably not needed to add but;

      Given up 30+ shots in the last 15 games.

      • wwpd says:

        why not pile on? if I can’t glory in a Stanley cup victory more than once in my lifetime, may as well relish to opportunity dump on them and wallow on traditional ranger fan misery. they keep getting my money either way 🙂

  4. Mancunian Candidate says:

    Holland recalled from Hartford this afternoon. Boo sent down. Stanley Cup imminent.

  5. Duncan says:

    Philthy 5: Rangers 1
    Rangers 3: Sabres 2
    Avs 4: Rangers 2
    Kings 5: Rangers 0