Two questions for this week’s mailbag. As always, email us your questions using the form on the right.
Felix asks: Given all the (well deserved) criticism about AV’s stubbornness in sticking with declining aging players, why do think he hasn’t learned his lesson from his Vancouver days and is seemingly recreating his own demise, this time in New York?
This is tough to answer. Part of AV’s dismissal in Vancouver was due to reluctance to play younger guys. That appears to be true this year, especially with Dylan McIlrath. However Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, and Kevin Hayes have all flourished under AV. The argument can be made that Kreider, Miller, and Hayes all had to play, as the Rangers had no other option and that when there is an option, AV leans on veterans at the detriment to the team.
J.T. Miller did it again for the Rangers. One game after his overtime winner, Miller notched a pair of goals in quick succession in the second period to seal it for the Rangers early. Miller regained a two-goal lead with a perfectly placed wrist shot over Eddie Lack, then stole the puck from Noah Hanifin before making a great deke on Lack for his second of the game and a three goal lead.
The Rangers controlled most of this game, as most of the action and better scoring chances were in Carolina’s zone. The third period was a little skewed due to score effects, and the fact that Rick Nash probably wishes he didn’t play that period, but that’s how the NHL is nowadays. If you have a lead in the third, you protect it. The Rangers did just that. It wasn’t ugly by any stretch, but it wasn’t the first two periods.
The Rangers played a very strong game at home against Vancouver the other day, coming out with a 3-2 win in overtime. It was a game where they dominated from start to finish, and eventually solved a hot goaltender for a come from behind victory. Those are usually the types of wins that a team can build on, and that is hopefully the end result against a weak Carolina team.
Although Carolina is weak, especially in net, they are holding their own due to strong possession play and great play from their blue line. They’ve been getting better shot quality as well, so the Rangers will need to play solid team defense and pepper Eddie Lack regularly.
Derick Brassard will return to the lineup after missing the last game with the flu. Jayson Megna was returned to Hartford and Daniel Paille is likely a healthy scratch, so the lines will resemble what we’ve seen over the past few games.
Yesterday morning, the Rangers signed winger Daniel Paille because, as Alain Vigneault put it, “he is a solid fourth line penalty killer and our penalty kill needs help.” It’s no surprise that the Rangers are struggling on the penalty kill, they 25th in the league with a 78.9% kill rate. This is a huge contrast from last year, when they were 6th in the league at 84.3% efficiency.
The only major difference from last year’s unit to this year’s is that Carl Hagelin is no longer with the team. As the second most used penalty killer, he was extremely efficient with Dominic Moore. They both had a CA/60 in the high-70s, at 76.98 for Moore and 78.60 for Hagelin. Those are excellent shots against rates. They aren’t the only ones to have solid Ca/60 rates on the PK either.
The Rangers have returned forward Jayson Megna to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL, per Andrew Gross. Megna played five games in his call up, registering a goal and an assist in his first contest, but scoreless after. Megna received a lot of playing time in the top-six and on the powerplay, which was perplexing to more than a few folks.
The signing of Daniel Paille made the Megna move inevitable.
Per Ryan Kennedy, the Rangers appear to have signed Daniel Paille to an unknown contract. Paille has been in the AHL this season after spending six years with the Bruins. The 31-year-old left wing is a fourth line/depth player, and his role with the team is currently unknown. He could be Jayson Megna’s replacement as the 13F, or he could be an AHL depth signing.
Update: Sean Hartnett reports that Paille is officially a Ranger. His deal is one year at $575,000. It looks like he will be with the club, and not with the Wolf Pack. Steve Zipay is reporting that he will be an AHL depth player. The contract is two-way, paying Paille $110,000 in the AHL.
J.T. Miller continued his strong play this season with the overtime winner, beating the
Ryan Millers Vancouver Canucks with a dramatic 3-2 win. The Rangers dominated this game from start to finish, but found themselves trailing 2-1 in the third period due to poor luck –I counted 71 posts hit– and amazing goaltending from Ryan Miller, who made 46 saves in the contest.
But it was Mats Zuccarello who tied the game in the third period off a brilliant Keith Yandle pass to guarantee the Rangers get a point. Henrik Lundqvist only faced 20 shots, but did have to make some difficult saves to ensure this game was within reach.
This is another game where the Rangers had to erase a third period deficit. It’s good to know that they are able to reach down and come back like this. But this game was very close to being a maddening loss.
It has been a rough six weeks for Rangers fans. We’ve watched the team free fall, with just 17 points since the beginning of December. There have been process improvements on the ice, but the team hasn’t been able to string together W’s consistently. It’s been maddening.
As noted, there have been on-ice process improvements though. With a relatively poor Vancouver team in town, tonight is a good night to start building something, even without Derick Brassard. It looks like the Canucks are without Henrik Sedin, so that’s a lucky break for the Rangers.
And hey, potential future Ranger Radim Vrbata is playing too.
The Rangers have a right-defense problem. Kevin Klein is solid and by far the best defenseman on that side. Aside from him, the Rangers aren’t really sure what they are getting on a nightly basis from Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, and Dylan McIlrath. The cause of inconsistency varies by player, but inconsistency is still inconsistency.
Boyle is still a solid possession player and his presence opens things up on the powerplay. However he is old and he’s slowing down considerably. He got torched by a Caps player on Sunday to negate an icing, and has been slow to the puck relatively consistently all year. That’s by no fault of his own, he lost a step.
Girardi has had a terrible season, and a fractured kneecap probably isn’t helping matters. Injured or not, he’s been a liability on the ice. McIlrath’s inconsistencies are more easily explained, as he’s a rookie. He will make mistakes. But those mistakes will become fewer in number as he gets more playing time. He should be getting groomed for regular minutes next season as well.
Per Steve Zipay, Derick Brassard will not play tonight with flu like symptoms. Kevin Klein will return to the lineup though, and was skating with Ryan McDonagh this morning. The new lines to account for Brassard’s absence: