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Thoughts heading into 2015

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Welcome to 2015, BSB faithful. 2014 is now behind us, which is a little weird, to be honest. It was a pretty interesting year, all told. We got a Stanley Cup Final run, a traded Captain, Stadium Series Games, troublesome contract negotiations and much more. But, it’s now ancient history, so let’s talk about some of the topics burning in the New Year…

  • Obviously non-Rangers related, but is it just me, or has the Winter Classic jumped the shark? Sure, it’s still interesting, and playing hockey outdoors will always be awesome, but the whole thing was just “blah” this year. Maybe it’s the rotating hosting of Bettman’s favorite teams. Or Pierre Maguire’s obnoxious voice. Or the fact we didn’t get a 24/7 because no one knows what EPIX is.
  • Back to Rangerland. Oh, look Tanner Glass sits and the Rangers get back to winning. I’m kidding, the whole thing has gotten a little out of hand. We all know Tanner Glass is god awful at the occupation he makes over a million dollars a year at. Yet he continues to play, and it doesn’t make that much of a difference. Until it does, against good teams, in the playoffs. Figure it out, AV.
  • I will be very interested to see how Sather (or his successor?) handles the long term construction of the blue line. Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi are the only two players locked in long-term, and it seems with every game that Marc Staal is inching toward the door. Kevin Klein is around for the mid-term, but not a cornerstone piece. Dan Boyle likely won’t be here beyond next season. Matt Hunwick isn’t a long-term solution. Would have been nice if John Moore turned that smooth skating and size into more useful hockey skills.
  • The forwards are in a slightly different boat with a glut of talent on the wings and very little depth up the middle. At some point, the front office needs to turn that strength into assets that are needed, but there really is not much available on the market. High-end centers are the league’s most valuable commodity, and while Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan have been very serviceable in the Top-6, this team could really use a true 1C. Something tells me Jim Nill is too smart to give away Tyler Seguin.
  • Henrik Lundqvist has played much better lately. He is still prone to the odd soft goal or two, but I feel like if we traded that goal every couple games for one of the absurd saves he makes going in, no one would be complaining. No one likes soft goals, but he hasn’t allowed them in situations which cost the team games.
  • Wouldn’t it be nice if this actually got Chris Kreider going?
  • Rick Nash is still a monster. It had to be said.
  • Don’t you love how these west coast games conspire to throw a wrench into the schedule? Not only does it suck having to stay up for them, you get a string of non-conference games against tough opponents. We should be getting the opportunity to improve our playoff positioning with matchups against the Isles, Caps and Penguins right now.  But nope, here come the Sharks, Ducks and Kings.
  • I’m not going to completely rip off Chris’s setup here and throw a bunch of questions out, but there are a few things I’m curious about how the community feels:
    • Do you think this team as constructed can make another run?
    • With that in mind, trade deadline wish list?
    • Do you think Chris Kreider is more valuable long-term on the roster or as a trade asset?
    • What would be your minimum required asset to rid the team of Girardi’s contract?
    • What would you look for in a potential Marc Staal trade?
    • And finally, the question bomb: if you could flip Henrik Lundqvist (and his contract) for John Gibson, would you do it?
Categories : Musings
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The Tanner Glass conspiracy

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*The holidays sort of interfered with our post schedule this week, so unfortunately no goal breakdown today.  The Rangers beat a terrible Devils team on the strength of a Derek Stepan hat trick and a strong performance by Henrik Lundqvist.  You’re welcome.

The Rangers have won 8 games in a row. That’s awesome. It hasn’t always been dominant, pretty hockey, but they have gotten the job done. After digesting the circus that is New Jersey’s hockey operations, marveling at Derek Stepan’s em, diverse, hat trick, and generally enjoying the win, one pregame narrative still continued to fester after the final buzzer sounded: Tanner Glass.

There seemed to be a tremendous amount of debate, both between fans and beat writers (don’t you love twitter, hockey journalists?) about AV’s decision to scratch JT Miller in favor of Lee Stempniak. At least that is how the beat writers framed it. Fans, on the other hand, saw Miller out and Glass in, which, of course, did not go over well.

In fact, the beat writers did not even broach the topic with AV at the pre or post-game presser. This is seemingly what really irked the fans. We demand answers, and they are our conduits, as journalists, to illicit the information from sources we don’t have access to. But no one bothered to ask.

Glass has been the faux-hawked elephant in the room pretty much since all of the injuries seemed to subside. At this point it’s pretty clear; he is a terrible hockey player. Pretty much every #fancystat ever created, plus all the eye tests tell us that.  He shouldn’t be taking minutes or a lineup spot from JT Miller, or anyone else for that matter.

We have had made tongue-in-cheek comments about what leverage Glass has on AV that he was not only given that contract, but is seemingly immune to lineup changes and poor play. How could it possibly be, that an analytics driven coach, who generally makes defensible personnel decisions, can get it so wrong, so often with one fourth line player?

Larry Brooks tried to rationalize it by saying that Glass is a fourth line player, Stempniak and Miller are not, and therefore have nothing to do with one another. I don’t buy this for one second. Stempniak would make for a fine fourth line player on this roster. Steve Zipay tried to defray fan aggression by saying that we should stop complaining about this type of stuff when a team wins eight in a row. That’s like me saying to a client “don’t worry that I forgot to file that motion for you, the judge ruled in our favor anyway”. It’s nonsense.

I suppose we will never know what magic aura Glass holds over AV or why beat reporters are terrified to even bring up the notion that Glass is playing over far superior players. We probably should be satisfied by winning eight in a row. The problem is most of us (on this site at least) have half a brain and realize that they Rangers just (rightfully) tore through a pillowy-soft section of the schedule. We realize that Dominic Moore can’t be skating with a 210lb anchor around his leg when he is trying to cover Sidney Crosby.

I guess this turned into a little more of a rant than I set out to write. I guess the moral of the story would be: 1) Beat writers, we aren’t stupid. When something stinks, have the stones to ask the questions about it. 2) Tanner Glass is terrible at hockey, and I don’t know if our collective fan constitution can deal with two and a half more years of him. And 3) JT Miller deserves to be in the lineup right now. I suppose 4) we are actually excited the Rangers have won eight in a row.

Categories : Rants
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Wrong side of the net, Khudobin.

This past week kind of embodies what it’s been like to be a Rangers fan the past few years. They had a stellar showing against some weak competition after calls for the team to go on a run through a soft portion of the schedule. So far, so good, right? We always have that little seed of doubt, due mostly to runs of maddening inconsistency and lingering concerns about the results matching the #fancystats or the eye test.

As I was kicking around ideas for a post for today, I realized there are some interesting concepts floating around the team, but no prevailing narrative since we are all kind of holding out breathe to see if this team has really turned the corner after injuries and inconsistency. So, you get a thoughts post… Read More→

Categories : Musings
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The Rangers have had a light schedule the past week and change or so. Now, they begin a stretch of six games in ten days leading up to Christmas. It starts with a west coast swing though Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary before heading back east for a home and home with lowly Carolina and finally finishing up against the Caps at the Garden. This stretch is going to be incredibly important, both in the standings and beginning to start to figure out how good this team actually is.

It’s been talked to death, but the beginning of this season was marred by significant injuries to multiple key players. A combination of injury fill-ins and guys playing out of their ideal roles have masked the talent level in relation to performance. Now, with guys starting to get healthy, we need to get a look at the defending Eastern Conference Champions for the first time, 25 games into the season. Read More→

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Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There was a time last season that Henrik Lundqvist was playing so poorly, and Cam Talbot was playing so well, that a very small but very vocal segment of the fan base was calling for a change at the number one spot. Imagine that. Crazy, right? But, it happened. Small sample sizes can do wacky things to people’s perceptions. Talbot had a phenomenal 2013-2014 season, but has struggled so far (relatively speaking) in the new campaign.

Last year, Talbot ended the season with a 1.64 GAA and a .941 save percentage in 21 games played. If he had put up those numbers over a starter’s workload, he would have run away with the Vezina. We all knew (hopefully) that these flawed metrics, although nice to see from our backup, were not reflective of his true talent level. In fairness, they aren’t reflective of anyone’s true talent level.

In 4 games so far this season, Talbot’s GAA has ballooned to 3.48 and his save percentage has slid to .880. Neither of those numbers are particularly pretty. I’ve seen comments on the Twitters and other social media about how hard regression is hitting Talbot, which naturally begs the question: what is the mean he is regressing to?

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Categories : Analysis, Goaltending
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BSB live chat 10.31.14

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Live Blog BSB Live Chat 10.31.14

Categories : Chats
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Friday chat reminder

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Happy Friday, BSB faithful!  We’ve had a long, between game layoff, but no shortage of Ranger-related news.  The imminent return of Derek Stepan, John Moore’s suspension, line combos, defensive pairs, the last time anyone has seen Cam Talbot alive…  Join me today for a chat on all these topics and more, starting at Noon today.  Don’t forget to drop by at 11:45am and fill up that queue.  See everyone in a few short hours!

Categories : Uncategorized
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Building a better goaltending statistic

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Over the past few years, the debate has grown more intense about the validity and reliance on #fancystats. The concept of quantifying the game has been a theme we have run with around here, albeit with the conceit that there is no perfect, all-knowing stat that can be universally relied upon to demonstrate a player’s ability level.

Statistics trying to quantify human athletic performance are inherently limited. There are very human characteristics in play; such as intelligence, judgment, emotion, situational awareness, etc. It makes it difficult to measure performance as if they were vital signs. I think that to fully expect that level of quantification or to vilify the statistic for being unable to is missing the point.

Much like politics, I think the emergence of these statistics and the resistance to adoption has pushed the two positions out to the extremes. The old school hockey community has written them off or marginalized their effectiveness, citing “games are played on the ice, not on a spreadsheet”, or taking pot shots at the Maple Leafs for hiring Kyle Dubas for their Assistant GM position, and various stats writers to make up a new analytics department. Read More→

Categories : Analysis, Goaltending
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Al Bello/Getty Images

Al Bello/Getty Images

Since we often preach patience and the long-view around here, I find it very difficult to identify specific narrative topics when the season is only five games old.  Many of our observations will normalize or end up a blip on the big picture radar.  Most sample sizes are too small, trends too tenuous and in the case of the Rangers, too injury dependent.  Once Stepan and Boyle return, we will start to see the true colors of this team, but until then, I feel like some random thoughts are more appropriate than digging into too much data or player performance numbers. I’ll be curious to see if your thoughts are consistent with mine during this time of upheaval…

  • Is it wrong that I was excited just to see that second win so things didn’t spiral out of control like last October?
  • Man, Lee Stempniak has been great. We all were fully on-board with the signing when it happened, but he has gotten off to a much better start than we could have reasonably expected.
  • Ryan McDonagh played over 30 minutes last night. In October. Loco.
  • Rick Nash is a monster. I had a feeling that the post-concussion symptoms were holding him back last season. He was horribly snake bitten in the playoffs, but has broken out again in a big way to start this year. Goals aside, he had made strong moves to the net, utilizing his size and reach with great results. If he can stay healthy, he will be an absolute force this season.

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Categories : Musings
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BSB live chat 10.10.14

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Live Blog BSB Live Chat 10.10.14

Categories : Chats
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