The Rangers have claimed forward Matt Puempel off waivers from the Ottawa Senators. The 2011 first round pick was waived by the Senators after not putting up a point in his 13 games thus far this season. Over 52 career games, Puempel has just four goals and two assists to his name.
Puempel is likely one of those “throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks” moves by Jeff Gorton as he and the Rangers try to deal with the slew of injuries that have done a number on their forward depth.
The 23-year-old forward is signed for this year making $900,000. Worth noting that the Rangers were 28th in the league in waiver priority. So 27 other teams passed on him, with just Chicago and Montreal behind them. At the worst, he’s a forward for Hartford. At the best, he’s a temporary stopgap until the forwards get healthy.
Hartford Wolf Pack 4, Providence Bruins 3 (SO)
By Henry Lucey
Hartford, CT, November 20, 2016 – For the second time in as many home games, Steven Fogarty notched the shootout winner for the Hartford Wolf Pack Sunday at the XL Center, in a 4-3 win over the Providence Bruins.
After a slow start saw Harford land just one shot in the first five minutes of play, the Pack’s offense caught fire at the 8:32 mark. Chris Brown put the Wolf Pack on the scoreboard when he collected Ryan Graves’ rebound that was bouncing in front of the net and swiftly deposited the puck past the near side of Providence goalie Anton Khudobin.
Just sixty-one seconds later, Matt Carey added to the Wolf Pack’s lead, corralling a Providence turnover and firing a snap shot over Khudobin’s blocker at 9:33. On the opposite end of the ice, Hartford’s defense was dominant, surrendering just six shots, all of which were saved by Magnus Hellberg.
The injury bug keeps biting the Rangers this year. Center Mika Zibanejad is out 6-8 weeks with a broken fibula after taking a nasty crash into the boards against Florida.
Unless Buch or Jooris are ready to go, the Rangers will need to recall a forward from Hartford.
The Rangers are back home tonight to take on the Florida Panthers, who are stuck in a fit of mediocrity at the moment. But while the game is the focus of the players, most fans have their eyes on the return of Keith Yandle and Dylan McIlrath. Yandle was shipped to Florida before the draft and eventually signed there, while McIlrath was traded this month.
But here’s the irony. The Rangers traded Steven Kampfer to Florida to open roster space for Anthony Duclair. Duclair was traded in the deal for Yandle. McIlrath was traded to Florida and got Kampfer in return. Now McIlrath lives with Yandle. Full circle.
As for the team itself, Florida is dealing with injuries to Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad, which has crushed their forward depth, and their bottom-six is pretty bad. Their top four on defense is pretty solid, but the bottom pair can be exploited with speed.
Binghamton Senators 6, Hartford Wolf Pack 3
Binghamton, NY, November 19, 2016 – A four-goal second period carried the Binghamton Senators to a 6-3 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack Saturday night at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena.
Marek Hrivik and Tanner Glass had a goal and an assist each for the Wolf Pack, but Francis Perron scored twice for Binghamton, Jack Rodewald had a goal and two assists, and Kyle Flanagan chipped in three assists.
“We’ve got to find a way to come out of our own zone cleaner,” said Glass of the Wolf Pack’s second-period difficulties. “We had the puck in full possession a few times there and were not making the good first pass that it takes to come out cleanly, especially against a team that was forechecking the way they were.”
For the first time all month, it actually feels like November outside. It’s crazy when you think about it, that we had a 60 degree afternoon yesterday followed promptly by 30 degrees and ice on the cars overnight. But does that officially make it hockey weather? I think so. So on this cold Sunday, here are a few things rattling around in my brain.
- Everyone is talking about how the Rangers are dominating scoring chances at even strength and just steamrolling opponents. But don’t forget about special teams. The Rangers had a bottom-feeder penalty kill last year. This year, they are 7th in the league. Their powerplay? Fifth in the league. Special teams drive victories too, and this is a huge improvement.
- Special teams improvement is just on the conversion level either. The Rangers are doing a far better job at generating shots on the powerplay and limiting shots on the penalty kill. If the above bullet represents execution on special teams, then this bullet represents process. With better process comes better execution. This is a huge part of the overall improvement we’ve seen on the ice.
After sweeping the Western Canada road trip, the Rangers are in Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets. CBJ is halfway decent this year at 8-4-2, and a +14 goal differential, but they also have a 10-0 whooping of the Canadiens under their belt. Outside of that win, they aren’t all that impressive so far. They don’t have the speed to match the Rangers, so they will need to rely on clogging the neutral zone and the slot.
As for the Rangers, they haven’t played their best lately. They may have put up a touchdown on Vancouver, but they only took 18 shots and played a pretty poor first period. It’s not alarming yet, just something to take note of as the season goes on. They’ve played down to their opponents a few times now, and should be looking to stop that trend tonight.
Both Josh Jooris (shoulder) and Chris Kreider (back) returned to practice today. Jooris has been out for about four weeks with a shoulder injury, while Kreider missed the last two games with what we assume to be continued neck spasms. Kreider has been medically cleared to play.
Since both are back, and Kreider is expected to be in the lineup tomorrow, Boo Nieves was returned to the Hartford Wolf Pack after his brief call up.
J.T. Miller has been a bit of a revelation for the Rangers this season. Viewed by some –including myself– as the best trade chip to try to upgrade the Rangers defense, Miller has taken this and basically shoved it back in our faces. I’ve never been happier.
Through 17 games, Miller has a line of 7-10-17, leading the team in scoring. He’s bounced between the top three lines, showing he can play anywhere in the lineup and on either wing. And he’s done all of this primarily at even strength, with just one PPG and one PPA to his stat line thus far.
Hartford Wolf Pack 3, Springfield Thunderbirds 2 (SO)
By Henry Lucey
Hartford, CT, November 16, 2016 – After falling behind 2-0, the Hartford Wolf Pack stormed back to beat the Springfield Thunderbirds, 3-2, Wednesday night at the XL Center. Nicklas Jensen scored twice for the Wolf Pack, and rookie center Steven Fogarty provided the shootout winner.
Both teams struggled to develop any offensive rhythm in the opening period. Hartford did not land their first shot on goal until the 4:25 mark, while it took Springfield just over six and half minutes to get a shot on Brandon Halverson’s net.