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Thoughts after four games

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Even though the Rangers have started the season 2-2, there have been plenty of reasons for optimism. The team has dominated possession and scoring chances in the two losses, and were simply stymied by two goaltenders on their game. There have been some highlights and lowlights since the season began, and as you can imagine, I have some thoughts…

1. This forward group has been really impressive so far. There is speed up and down the lineup. Oddly good chemistry has developed on certain lines very quickly (coughKreiderZBadBuchcough) and the special teams have had a much better look, as well. The sample sizes are still to small to look at efficiency or league rankings, etc., but the visual analysis tells me that it has been much improved.

2. It is really nice to have some shooters in the lineup for a change. There is obviously a point of diminishing returns with simply firing at the net with every touch, but having those guys with a shoot first instinct has made the offense much more dynamic. Mika Zibanejad has been especially impressive thus far.

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The Rangers closed out their exhibition schedule last night, dropping the finale to the Flyers, 4-2. With all the competition in camp, it has certainly been an interesting pre-season. After Wednesday’s cuts, the Rangers sit at 28 remaining players in camp. As we all sit with baited breathe to see if we are stuck with yet another full season of Tanner Glass, I’m going to lay out my cuts and ideal opening night roster.

This is all for fun and will probably differ, not only from what the club will actually do, but also, these things will change and evolve as the season goes along.

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The Rangers have secured victories in their first two pre-season games, and the forward group has shown a lot to be excited about. There was significant turnover in the roster for the first two games, and a lot to digest and analyze as the front office and coaching staff try to mold a group of twenty-three out of a very packed field. As you can imagine, I have some thoughts…

  • In watching the first two games of the pre-season, offensive zone puck movement has jumped out at me the most. They are finding lanes, showing patience and creating a net front presence we haven’t seen over the past few seasons. Kevin Hayes continued to show elite vision, even if I wish he would pull the trigger a little more often. I suppose that’s what we now have Brandon Pirri and Mika Zibenejad for.

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Categories : Musings, Preseason
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With last night’s loss to the Czech Republic, the United States capped off an absolutely humiliating overall performance in the World Cup of Hockey. This event was an embarrassment the USA Hockey organization had not experienced since 1998 in the Nagano Olympics, and highlighted the need for systemic change amongst their leadership.

With the archaic brain trust seeking to replicate David v. Goliath glories of old, specifically 1980 and 1996, the organization’s leadership lost sight of how to actually build a hockey team. They packed their suitcases with hard hats and sand paper, and headed off the World Cup to announce loudly and proudly that they truly do not understand the modern game. Read More→

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Thoughts prior to the World Cup

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Happy Friday, BSB community. I’m going to go out of character and hit you with a short thoughts post today. I’ve been buried at work and we rescued a cat this week that was dumped in a park, so I’m a bit short on time. Either way, the World Cup starts this weekend, Traverse City does too, and before we know it, Rangers hockey returns. As you can imagine, I have some thoughts.

  1. I don’t blame those of you who think the World Cup is a cheap gimmick. Especially when you see the league use it as an excuse to introduce non-traditional elements; Adidas jerseys, uniform ads (albeit very small ones) and teams representing non-nationalities. However, I am a sucker for professional hockey being played during times I wouldn’t normally see it coughWinterClassiccough. So, I’ll be watching curiously, actively rooting against the USA’s Brooksian (Herb, not Larry) roster construction and laughably dated outlook on how to build a winning team.

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My World Cup 2016 Starting Goaltenders

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For the first time since 2004, the World Cup of Hockey has returned. This has been quite the polarizing event since it was announced. Many feel it is simply a cash grab by the NHL, risking injury prior to the regular season. Others are delighted that we have an early return for hockey and some interesting international competition between Olympic years (the NHL’s continued participation is a topic for a whole different post). Either way, we will see the puck drop a few weeks early this season.

Naturally, there has been quite a bit of hand wringing over roster decisions; Team USA’s archaic, backwater team building philosophy chief among them. This morning, though, I am here to talk about the goaltending for each team. In case you have been actively avoiding the tournament and its nuances, quick primer: there are eight teams competing, six of which are familiar. USA, Canada, Sweden, Russia, Finland and the Czech Republic are properly represented. The final two teams are Team North America, comprised of American and Canadian players, twenty-three years of age or younger, and Team Europe, which catches all European players not rostered with one of the other countries.

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Welcome to the final edition of this year’s Top 30 goaltenders. We’ve been through twenty of the top keepers in all the land over the last few weeks, but here is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Just in case anyone missed the first two entries, they can be found here and here. The first one covers all the introductory info and criteria, so make sure to check that out if you haven’t already. Get your tar, feathers and NHL Network/ESPN/TSN Top 10 lists ready to waive in my face….here are my Top 10…

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Categories : Goaltending, Offseason
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Welcome to our second installment of the 5th Annual Top 30 goaltenders. Today, we will be discussing the 20-11 ranked tenders in the NHL. If you missed last week’s rankings, be sure to check them out here. That post covers rankings 30-21 and all the introductory/housekeeping considerations, so make sure you get up to speed.

Without further adieu, goaltenders 20-11… Read More→

Categories : Goaltending, Offseason
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My all-time favorite

Welcome to the 5th Annual Pre-season Top 30 Goaltenders List. It’s that time of year again, and after five years of putting this list together, the one thing I have learned is the value of consistency. Many a goaltender has now passed through this list with worlds of talent and bright futures’ ahead. The NHL, however, often has other ideas. The mainstays at the top are some of the most talented and hard working athletes on the planet, and it is truly a pleasure to watch them work.

This year’s list felt a little bit thinner than in seasons’ past, as performance attrition reared its ugly head on more than a few tenders this season, both vets and rookies, alike. There are a few bounce back performances and some steady steps forward, but I feel like this list has been scrambled quite a bit over last season. Read More→

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Henrik Lundqvist has been the backbone and the face of the New York Rangers for over a decade. It’s been a fascinating career to watch, as we have become somewhat jaded to his consistent excellence and the impact he has had on a franchise in transition, coming out of the lockout in 2005.

Now, at age 34, with a huge contract and still without that elusive Stanley Cup ring, detractors have begun to emerge and question The King’s right to his throne. Specifically, they have taken shots at his current performance level and anticipated decline.

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Categories : Analysis, Goaltending
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