What a mess

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

To say the Rangers have gotten off to a rough start this season would be an understatement.  The Kings game aside, the Blueshirts have been thoroughly de-pantsed by some of the Western Conference’s finest over the past few games.  After spending all summer telling my wife (who knows an awful lot about the game) how excited I was about AV’s arrival and the potential for this team to be really successful this season, she pointedly asked me last night, “what the hell is wrong with them?”.  I was at something of a loss.

Earlier this week, The Suit splendidly broke down AV’s systems and got us all up to speed on what we should be expecting out of the Ranger players this season.  But this malaise goes much deeper than simply adjusting to the system.  They are making serious fundamental hockey errors, as opposed to systems errors.

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Patience is a vitrue

Norm Hull/Getty Images

Norm Hull/Getty Images

Last night, the Rangers lost their 2013-2014 opener in Phoenix.  It was neither pretty nor particularly encouraging.  Sure, there were some bright spots; Brad Richards showed signs of life, Marc Staal looked great and the defense as a whole looked much more active in the offensive zone.

Since the pre-season started, the staff here at BSB has been preaching patience.  There has been a ton of upheaval even though there was very little roster turnover from last year’s team.  Not only has there been the difficulty of a coaching change and all new systems implementation, but the Blueshirts start the season on a 9-game road trip.

Derek Stepan got a late start on camp due to his contract situation and two top-6 forwards in Callahan and Hagelin are out to start the season; not to mention the disappointing camp from Chris Kreider.

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Friedman: Rangers, Stepan agree to 2-year deal

According to Elliotte FriedmanDerek Stepan and the New York Rangers have agreed to terms on a 2-year deal.  The value is estimated in the $6.5 million range, but is yet unconfirmed.  Looks like Sather got his bridge deal, after all.  Welcome back Step, now get to work.

A closer look at Cam Talbot

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Since the emergence of Henrik Lundqvist during the 2005-2006 season, many Ranger fans haven’t put much thought into the future between the pipes.  Fast forward eight years later, Hank is still only 31 years-old and likely to sign a 7-8 year extension within the next 12 months.  The stability The King provides has masked (no pun intended?) a rather glaring organization weakness: depth in goal.

Although its only been two preseason games, Cam Talbot has been impressive the first long-look of his career.  Although the numbers are nothing to write home about (3.21 GAA, .875 Sv%), he has looked closer to NHL-ready than anything we’ve seen from the Rangers’ goaltending prospects in some time.  This has prompted a discussion about Marty Biron’s future and contemplating a world where we can off-set some of Hank’s raise with a cheap backup.  In this spirit of this curiosity, I thought I’d take a closer look at Mr. Talbot’s background and overall game.

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Derek Stepan and CBA inefficiency

It signs the contract or else it gets the hose again.

Up until pre-season games start up in earnest, the fan focus around Rangerland will continue to be Derek Stepan’s unresolved contract situation.  The boys around here have done a fantastic job covering the specifics, comparables and negotiating leverage surrounding the Blueshirt’s final RFA, but I wanted to examine a slightly different facet: the gaping hole in the CBA that lead to this situation to begin with.

The age in which a player signs his ELC will determine whether or not he is eligible for arbitration rights during his RFA years.  Depending on how long the ELC is, a player could foreseeably have two years (though, usually just one) of RFA eligibility without receiving arbitration rights.  This essentially means a player is allowed to seek “market” value (compared to other team-controlled players with no arbitration rights), but is still somewhat at the whim of the team’s valuation, with very little negotiating leverage. Read more »

Justin’s 2nd Annual Pre-season Top 30 Goaltenders List (10-1)

Welcome to the final installment of the annual Top 30.  It’s been a fun ride over the long summer months, but with hockey season upon us, let’s take a gander at the Top 10.  In case you missed it, here are parts one and two. Before we get to the best tenders in the land, let’s take a look at the final two tenders who were relieved from their Top 30 duties of a year ago…

Dropped:

Miikka Kiprusoff- Retired:  The reason Kipper is no longer on the list is pretty obvious: he chose to retire at the end of last season, even vetoing a trade to the Maple Leafs prior to calling it quits.  The Finnish keeper was #15 on the list last season, and surely would have made another appearance had he not decided to hang ‘em up.

Nikolai Khabibulin- Chicago Blackhawks:  The Bulin Wall checked in at #26 last season, when he was getting fairly consistent reps in Edmonton.  However, since he decided to take on the role of veteran backup behind the newly extended Corey Crawford, he is sure to see his playing time significantly reduced.  While I believe Khabby is still a solid keeper, the role change really forced my hand.

With that out of the way, ladies and gentlemen, rankings 10-1… Read more »

USA Hockey debuts 2014 Olympic jerseys, to mixed results

Could be better, could be worse.

As Olympic orientation camps get under way this week, many of the new unis that the teams will wear are being unveiled.  On Tuesday, Nike revealed the uniforms for the 2014 American Squad, to mixed results.

The jerseys continue the trend of Edge® style moisture wick design, however, these two have something of a euro influence, perhaps more common on the football pitch than in the hockey rink.  The two-tone design of the white jersey clearly displays this quality more prominently, but both are seemingly soccer influenced.

The patch is evocative of the 1932 USA jersey, used in Lake Placid.  This is where it starts to get weird, however.  The cheap, screen-printed look of both the navy-on-navy stars and the faux-lace neck area leave much to be desired, in my opinion.  Why not just have a real tie on the neck? Read more »

Latest round of pad reductions illustrates need for more effective advocacy for goaltenders

ingoalmag.com

ingoalmag.com

The other day, I was reading one of my favorite goalie-related publications, InGoal Magazine.  There was a fantastic article about some NHL tendys giving their thoughts on the new equipment sizing and some of the difficulties the changes pose.  After reading the article and seeing some of the drastic reductions in size, I started thinking about the involvement of the Union and the type of representation that goalies are receiving during this type of transition.

There has been talk of allowing goalies up until the Olympic break to comply with the new rules, and further talk of revisiting the measurements in the off-season (not to see if they are effective, mind you, but to take another crack at reductions).  After examining all the information from the article and investigating further into the compromise made with regard to the reduction formula, I arrived at the conclusion that goalies are not being advocated for properly in the new-NHL. Read more »

Our final hockey-less month

Remember hockey? I miss it too.

As a hockey fan, August is by far the worst month of the year.  Free agency, the major trades, the Draft, they have all long passed by and the dog days of summer have set in.  Traverse City is still a few weeks away.  The major headlines are the remaining few contract situations (Stepan and to some extent, Lundqvist), but the season still seems worlds away.

In the life of a hockey blogger, August represents dredging the deepest recesses of your brain for something to write about.  Everything with AV, re-signing McDonagh, Hagelin and Zuccarello, speculating on Stepan and Hank’s extensions, assessing the cap situation, etc. have been beaten to death over the past two months.  Nothing really left to do but wait (and read the final installment of the Top 30, of course).

In deference to our final hockey-less month, I thought I would just muse a little on some hockey related topics. Read more »

Justin’s 2nd Annual Pre-season Top 30 Goaltenders List (20-11)

Welcome to Part II of Justin’s Preseason Top 30 Goaltenders list.  In case you missed rankings 30-21, here they are.  Before we begin, let’s take a quick look at a couple more tendys that didn’t make the cut this year after gracing the list in 2012…

Dropped:

Ilya Bryzgalov, Free Agent:  I caught a lot of flack for ranking Mr. Universe at #20 last season.  Bryz is a very strange case.  He is still a pretty decent goalie, but he is a massive headcase and the circus following him out of Philadelphia contributed to his omission from the list.  It will be interesting to see if he is able to catch on with an NHL club at some point this season.

Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis Blues:  Halak actually ranked #12 last season, but recurring injuries and generally poor play pushed the Slovakian out.  If he comes back healthy and has a strong, full campaign this year, don’t be surprised to see him back on the list next season.  He is still only 28, but his lower-body injuries are starting to pile up, which is very concerning.

With that out of the way, rankings 20-11. Read more »