It’s never fun enduring a long offseason while fans of other clubs get to enjoy a playoff run. This may sound a little spoiled to fans of teams like Edmonton and Calgary, but over the last decade, Rangers fans have been treated to a consistent expectation of contention. Since the Rangers have been eliminated, I have read a lot of great analysis about the importance of this offseason and potential directions for the club to go.
It’s going to be very difficult to handicap the exact moves from an analysis standpoint and hey, that’s up to you guys and gals anyway (shameless plug for the Off-season Plan Contest). I have kind of a conceptual thought-dump I wanted to share about this coming offseason and to see how you are felt about some of these things…
The evolution of sports is an interesting beast. Forever embedded in the American (and Canadian) consciousness, competition and loyalty can breed life long interest and devotion. People spend countless hours over countless years watching their idols. The love of the sweater eventually outlives all the players you grew up watching and those who have long faded into oblivion. As players come and go, the game changes around them. Some embrace the evolution, some fail to evolve and their time within the game draws to a close.
The evolution tends to come in common themes. Players get bigger, faster, and more skilled. They are better trained, with their talented cultivated from younger and younger ages. The game itself develops more specialized roles for players and matchups and statistics become more prevalent. Trends emerge, science is tested and every team tries to gain that competitive advantage.
Well, here we are. It’s May 6th and the Rangers are no longer playing hockey games. I’m sure it still stings for many of you (us). Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen frustration and venting in the comments section. Lamenting decisions from both the coaching staff and management are perfectly natural as we process the death of another chance to bring the ultimate prize to Broadway.
Fear not, BSB faithful, we are here to help. The upside to an early exit is we get to implement the BSB Offseason Plan Contest a few weeks earlier this year. It seems like it will be a really fun year to do it, too. For those of you unfamiliar, we have run this little exercise for the past few years (save for 2014-2015, as they were just playing hockey for too damn long to make the timing work). Basically, you get to play GM of the New York Rangers. Read More→
The interesting thing about having a set day to write is that sometimes you are forced to sit on the sidelines while other writers are able to react to certain situations, immediately. In this case, the Rangers were eliminated by the Penguins on Saturday, and I wasn’t scheduled to publish until the following Friday. Lots of digestion time. Since then, there has been breakup day, a myriad of reactions from all over the interwebs and some fine analysis done by the talented staff here. As you can probably surmise, I have thoughts…
1. Not that the result was surprising, but it was still disappointing. The Rangers were never going to make a serious run considering all the issues the team had. Still, the fan in me was hoping to see something amazing that the analyst in me knew was never going to happen.
By now, anyone reading this site is painfully aware that the Rangers were embarrassed at the Garden last night, 5-0 by the Penguins and now stand on the brink of elimination. Combing various recaps, Twitter, the comments section, etc., has given me a (somewhat frightening) glimpse into the current psyche of the Ranger fan community.
In seeking out a topic for this post, once the dust settled, I found myself coming up empty. I really enjoy writing “thoughts” posts, but I don’t think I could really organize my thoughts in a way that would make for worthwhile reading. I feel like it would just read like a laundry list of complaints.
Instead, I think I’m just going to write, and see what comes out of my brain that is Ranger-related and see how that goes. Work for everybody? Good.
The Rangers dropped the first game of their opening round matchup with the Penguins on Wednesday night, 5-2. Patrick Hornqvist lead the way for the Penguins, with a hat trick, and the Rangers lost Henrik Lundqvist to a scary eye injury. Marc Staal and Dan Girardi were basically traffic cones all evening and the Rangers were shut down by a third string goaltender. As you can imagine, I have some thoughts…
1. Where else to start but with Hank? Forget the fact that the Rangers realistic chances of winning this series were all but hinged on Hank playing at a Conn Smythe level. Let’s talk about the injury itself. I have had the misfortune of experiencing something fairly similar, so I feel I can lend some perspective. My experience involved the opposite end of the stick, but it still belonged to my defenseman and still slipped through the bars on the cat’s-eye. My defender backed into me and it seemed like slow motion that the butt-end of his stick just continued coming until I could feel it make contact with my eye.
Leading up to the Rangers and Penguins first round match up on Wednesday evening, the boys from Pittsburgh find themselves in a strange situation. Their starting goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury, practiced yesterday, but is unconfirmed to make it back in time for game 1. Their backup, and highly touted rookie, Matt Murray, is day-to-day after having his bell rung by Braden Schenn in game 81. He is also unconfirmed to be available for the start of the postseason. They have last year’s backup Jeff Zatkoff ready to go, and have called up (slightly less highly touted) rookie Tristan Jarry, just in case. Read More→
Over the course of the season, we, along with many other folks, have beaten to death that the Rangers defense is not what it used to be. While we’ve addressed some of the root causes, we have not addressed what specifically changed from last year. The personnel is the same. The system is the same. So it’s fair to expect similar results.
As with anything in sports analysis, it is very rarely one thing. A culmination of factors can conspire to change something that once appeared static and reliable.
First, let’s take a look at age. The average age on the blue line is 29.7 years old. That is not a young group. Dan Boyle’s spritely 39 years obviously skews things a bit, but Ryan McDonagh and Dylan McIlrath are the only members of the defense significantly under 30 (Yandle is 29). Especially for the less mobile defenseman, there are a lot of miles on those bodies.
Happy Friday, BSB community. After what seems like weeks of hand wringing, the Rangers have finally strung together a few solid performances in a row following the disaster in San Jose. Only eight games remaining before the second season starts, so naturally, I have some thoughts…
Some well timed losses from the Penguins and Islanders have given the Rangers a little more breathing room in their quest for home ice in the first round. At this point, they at least control their own destiny. Something tells me they are going to have to earn it, because I don’t see either of those teams doing the Rangers any favors down the stretch. Read More→
For the past several years, there has begun a philosophical shift in how the game of hockey is analyzed. The emergence of advanced statistics and more intricate systems-based strategies have highlighted this rift between the new and old school. Player evaluations and scouting fundamentals have evolved and the game has slowly taken on a new image.
This season, more than ever, I have observed a fundamental division of thought in what we characteristics and skills we value in a hockey player. For example, conventional wisdom has always taught us that a guy who will deliver a big hit, block a shot, or otherwise sacrifice his own well being for the betterment of the team was the type of player worth valuing. As our understanding of the game has evolved, we have come to look at the information that surrounds those traits. The reality is that when a player is performing those types of actions, it generally means that they don’t have the puck. Even the old edict will tell us, the other team can’t score when they don’t have the puck. Read More→