Some news out of practice today from Rick Carpiniello, some of it good, some not good. Rick Nash, out for a few weeks with a bone bruise, has been downgraded from day-to-day to week-to-week. That’s obviously not good, as Nash is the Rangers’ best forward. They’ve been surviving on the recent hot streak for JT Miller, but Nash gives the Rangers a game changing presence in the lineup. Considering the downgrade, the most pessimistic are saying the Rangers will be without him for the rest of the season. Mark Teixeira had a similar issue this season, and it kept him out for months.
In better news, Ryan McDonagh skated in full gear, albeit in a non-contact jersey. He is symptom free, but will not play tomorrow.
The Rangers are on a roll at the moment, winning five in a row. They are showing tremendous resiliency, as they are doing this without their two best players, Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nash. Others have stepped up, and the process has been much better. They had a slight blip on Wednesday, but Henrik Lundqvist stood tall when they needed him.
Los Angeles is the cream of the Pacific, but that division is a tire fire. All told, they are still a solid team though. The Isles beat them yesterday, so while the Kings are tired, they won’t want to post an oh-fer against the New York teams. LA is a deep team that gives the Rangers fits. If a depleted Penguins team was a barometer for the Rangers, this is a better one.
Despite rumors that the Rangers would put in a claim for waived Kings defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, he cleared waivers this afternoon. Ehrhoff is on a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, and has a line of 2-9-11 in 40 games this season. As a cheap and effective defenseman for an injury riddled club, Ehrhoff seemed like a logical fit.
There are a few reasons why the Rangers may have passed on him, though. The first is that Jeff Gorton thinks the current top-six, without Ryan McDonagh, will be able to hold on long enough until McDonagh is healthy. The second is that McDonagh may be on a path to a faster recovery from his concussion. The third is that maybe they have something else lined up.
After all the talk yesterday that the Rangers would claim him, and the fact that many –including myself– thought he wouldn’t even make it to the Rangers on the waiver wire, this is very surprising.
The Rangers came into Pittsburgh without arguably their two best skaters, yet on a three game win streak. The Penguins were without Evgeni Malkin, but on a six game win streak. Something had to give for these two hot teams. The depleted blue line held the depleted offense in check, in the sense that Henrik Lundqvist was on fire all game, making big stops on every shot he saw.
The ice was tilted for the Penguins most of this game. The Rangers flatlined on quality chances in the second period, and couldn’t get it going in the third. It’s tough to say if they went into a shell though, because it was two periods of the Penguins peppering them with quality chances. Lundqvist stood tall, and always seems to bring his best against this team. Couple that with two timely goals, and you have a solid win against a hot team.
The Rangers have won three in a row and are without Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nash. The Penguins are streaking with Mike Sullivan as their new head coach and are without Evgeni Malkin. But the story will be another Carl Hagelin return, this time in Pittsburgh Penguin black, sometimes skating with Sidney Crosby.
This is Hagelin’s second trip to MSG since his trade to Anaheim. He returned once with the Ducks before being sent to Pittsburgh. (This is an away game. Oops.) This time around, he’s with a division rival. Things are different.
Beyond Hagelin, the Rangers have been surging at even strength. They’ve played four straight solid games at 5v5, but special teams have been a bit slow. The penalty kill has been a bit better of late, in the sense they aren’t hemorrhaging goals left and right. On the bright side, with no Malkin, the Pens are pretty weak outside of their top six and Kris Letang. Teams that lack depth have issues with the Rangers, so that could play in their favor.
Through the end of January, it seemed to be a sure bet that the Rangers were going to trade Keith Yandle. The club has Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal locked into long-term deals and have Brady Skjei –their 2012 1st round pick– knocking at the door. That’s a pretty crowded left side. Getting the most for Yandle, especially considering the cost, made the most sense.
Even before the season started, many wanted to keep Yandle and preferred to trade one of Staal or Dan Girardi. Yandle is one of the premier puck movers in the game, and both Staal and Girardi either were regressing prior to the season or have regressed since the season started. Either way, Yandle is a better option than both at the moment.
Now that the season is more than half over, we are seeing Yandle emerge as the best option on the blue line. He’s thrived in his recent usage (20+ minutes per game), and while he does make a gaffe here and there, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
I had other commitments last night, and foolishly thought I would be home by the second period. I was not, and I had already told Pat that he needn’t cover for me for the goal breakdown. That turned out to be a mistake, as I didn’t get home until midway through the third period. Oh well.
Since there isn’t a goal breakdown, I decided to try something new. Welcome to the first ever All-Twitter breakdown of a game. I collected a series of tweets from the game, and let’s see if we can put this together to tell a story of the game.
— Christopher Gambino (@Cgambino730) February 9, 2016
The Rangers made a dramatic comeback over the weekend, eventually beating the Flyers in the shootout. Today they go for three in a row against the Devils, a team that they dominated at even strength a week ago, but lost in regulation because of special teams. The penalty kill has been better of late, but the powerplay is still a train wreck.
Compounding these issues is that the Rangers will be without Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nash, arguably their two best players. Nash hasn’t played since before the All Star break, and McDonagh was sucker-punched by Wayne Simmonds on Saturday. Neither has a timetable for return. Nash has already been missed, and McDonagh’s injury puts the already weak blue line in a precarious position.
A win tonight goes a long way, widening the gap between the Rangers and fifth place in the division, a spot the Rangers want to avoid.
Per Sean Hartnett, neither Rick Nash (leg) nor Ryan McDonagh (head) are on the ice for this morning’s skate. It is likely that both will be out tonight against the Devils. No call up has been made, so Dylan McIlrath will probably get in the lineup tonight. Right now, it is unclear which right-handed defenseman will play the left side, but my bet is Dan Boyle.
Update: It has been confirmed that McDonagh has a concussion, and there is no timetable for his return. The concussion came on this sucker punch from Wayne Simmonds.
Injuries are a common occurrence in hockey. Whether it’s bumps and bruises, broken bones, or torn ligaments, they happen all the time and teams around the league deal with injuries regularly. For the Rangers, they have two players on their blue line that have been dealing with injuries. Dan Girardi has a fractured knee cap, and Kevin Klein has a broken thumb.
Klein’s injury is the most recent, having occurred last week. He missed exactly one game before returning to the lineup in Philadelphia. Girardi’s been dealing with the knee cap injury for most of the season. Neither missed significant time, even though Dylan McIlrath, a former first round pick that the Rangers have spent five years developing, is sitting in the press box for his chance.
But are they really performing better injured than a healthy McIlrath? By the numbers, McIlrath is deserving of more time, and he’s outplaying most of his blue line brethren as well.