On defense rotations and healthy scratches

Although the Rangers are exceeding all expectations by winning regularly, one of the stories that has taken on a life of its own is healthy scratches and how coach David Quinn is rotating players on the blue line. Recently we’ve seen Brady Skjei and Tony DeAngelo spend time as a healthy scratch. Over the course of the year, almost every single defenseman has seen time as a healthy scratch.

I say “almost every single defenseman” above because it’s just one player that hasn’t been a healthy scratch yet, and that is Marc Staal. I went into detail about why Staal wasn’t the scratch over Skjei at around this time last week, however performance changes and there can be slumps. So we shall see if Staal winds up in the press box once in a while. Perhaps the reason why Staal hasn’t seen time as a healthy scratch is the perception that he and Neal Pionk have formed a strong defense pairing. That’s a conversation for another time, though.

The fact is the Rangers have a logjam on defense. They have four players with long term commitments that they are trying to get into the lineup regularly. They have a pair of kids that need time to develop and evaluate. They have another supposed 7D that has been the steadiest defenseman to date (Fredrik Claesson). And this doesn’t even include the still injured Adam McQuaid.

With such a logjam, there is difficulty in finding time to get everyone regular playing time. Compounding issues is that aside from Claesson, not one single defenseman has been consistenly decent. The next on that list is DeAngelo (in my opinion, of course). Ironically enough, those are the two that I can see getting scratched when McQuaid returns. But I digress.

The other six defensemen, injured or not, have been at best inconsistent, and at worst a train wreck. In that regard, a rotation seems like a good idea. Getting guys who may still be feeling effects of injuries (Shattenkirk) time off helps. Getting some kids time off to review tape and watch from above helps too. There are benefits to a rotation and healthy scratches. When done right.

That’s the key though, isn’t it?

"On defense rotations and healthy scratches", 5 out of 5 based on 7 ratings.

7 thoughts on “On defense rotations and healthy scratches

  • Nov 27, 2018 at 12:51 pm
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    I agree about ADA, the more I see of him the more I want to see him play. He’s dynamic and full of piss and vinegar.

  • Nov 27, 2018 at 4:36 pm
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    The constant attention to which dman is scratched is so overdone. Until McQuaid comes back there is really no logjam. Fitting 7 into 6 slots is advantageous, not a problem. I’m sure there will be injuries (just look at our forwards going down regularly) and even without injuries, resting each dman 2 games or so a month should help over the long grueling season. And I’m sure they will look to trade at least one at the TD – probably Smith and/or McQuaid (if he is healthy).

    Agree that ADA is the most fun to watch – both for his impressive wheels and speed up the ice and his awful gaffes from time to time. He seems to be on the path to figuring things out but only time will tell.

    And given all the grief that Staal gets from the fan base it is probably worth saying that game in and game out he has been more consistent and about as competent as anyone else in the d corp. The coach has pretty much said as much also.

    • Nov 28, 2018 at 8:43 am
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      Agreed. Tony is finding a way to become a more complete and better player. The good has started to outweigh the bad by a large margin, but the kid will at times do something that makes you face palm. I have faith though that he is going to develop into one of their better defenseman. Quinn should be commended for seeming to coach him well, and Tony should be for working hard and playing with enthusiasm. When he is benched in the future it will likely be to get one of the bench riders some playing time and to give Tony some coaching. No problem there.

      Staal is not half as bad as many claim. He is not what he once was, but they could do worse. As the season wears on I’d like to see him get a occasional night off to keep him fresh. He isn’t getting any younger.

      • Nov 28, 2018 at 9:26 am
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        I use to say the same thing about Girardi a few years back — just give him a few maintenance days/games off during the course of the year. No reason to play a declining and aging player, especially when they are trying to nurse injuries …. and yet, they almost never did. The same holds true for Staal … and guys like Zucc and Hank. It’s not as if playing those 3 guys every game during the course of the season is going to lead us to a SC — certainly not this year.

  • Nov 27, 2018 at 5:12 pm
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    Staal has not played poorly this season. The reason he doesn’t get scratched, beyond that he hasn’t sucked, is that he gives 100% every shift. He works hard all the time. Also, as a long time veteran, he is not going to benefit from a benching. In other words, he won’t play better because he got benched, as is the case with younger guys or guys that make tons of mistakes or give poor effort.

    • Nov 27, 2018 at 7:43 pm
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      He did play badly in stretches this season, but on the whole I must admit overall he’s played better than I expected. Let’s just say he merits a rest every now and then due to old age. It’s not like this team will miss out on the playoffs if Staal sits a few games during the course of the season — why should he be immune?

  • Nov 28, 2018 at 6:20 am
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    Easy answer to why Staal has not been benched. You don’t bench your captain. You say he wears the A. Well he wears it for all 82 game this season. He’s the closest thing to a captain we got. So no if you have to bench a leader then the coach chose the wrong leader.

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