Gotham City problems

Warner Brothers

Warner Brothers

If Heath Ledger’s iconic turn as The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s epic 2008 crime drama “The Dark Knight” has taught us anything, its that as long as everything goes according to plan, everything is fine.  Even if the plan is horrifying.  When the Flames lose 50+ games this season, nobody panics.  When franchise players are flipped for unknown prospects and picks, everything is fine.  But when one little ol’ contender struggles, especially in New York, well, then everyone loses their minds.

This year’s New York Rangers club has fallen well short of expectations thus far.  This team was supposed to be the cream that rose to the top of the less-than-stellar Metropolitan Division and carry Stanley Cup aspirations into the late spring months.  Alain Vigneault was supposed to be the final piece of this puzzle, taking a team more offensive talented than the 2012 team that grinded their way to the Eastern Conference finals to the next level.

Clearly, the transition has been sandpaper smooth to this point.  The team in general (but, especially the defense) have had a difficult time going from John Tortorella’s straight forward 2-1-2/low zone collapse to AV’s more complex, matchup oriented overload system.  Henrik Lundqvist has been mortal to this point, and our beloved Blueshirts are clinging to playoff contention more as a result of the weak Eastern Conference and weaker Metropolitan Division than of the quality of their play. Read more »

So, what about Cam Talbot?

Scott Levy/Getty Images

Scott Levy/Getty Images

Now that all the hemming and hawing over Henrik Lundqvist’s contract situation has been completed, Cam Talbot’s future has been an oft-discussed topic.  Whatever you may think about the specific details of the contract, Hank is going to be manning the pipes at the Garden until 2020-2021.

This brings us back to Talbot.  His emergence this season as a viable NHL goaltender have prompted quite a few fans to jump to conclusions about his long-term future in the Rangers organization and his potential trade value and contract status.  Just to get the facts out of the way, Talbot is under contract for this season and next at a very reasonable $562,000 cap hit.  As Dave pointed out in his fantastic analysis of Hank’s contract, the discount between Marty Biron’s salary and Talbot’s hedge quite a bit of the raise that Hank received in the context of overall goaltending cost.

After next season, because of his age, Talbot will be eligible for Unrestricted Free Agency.  Generally speaking, when a player makes his NHL debut, there are usually several cost controlled years at the team’s disposal, either through the ELC or RFA status.  Because goalies are more often than not, late bloomers, the Rangers don’t have this luxury with Talbot. Read more »

Playing devil’s advocate: Henrik Lundqvist

Scott Levy/Getty Images

Scott Levy/Getty Images

We’ve received some feedback over the past few weeks that readers are looking for a more objective viewpoint on hot-button Rangers issues.  In our insatiable desire to please our readership, I’ve decided to start the Playing devil’s advocate series, looking at both sides of major debates and lending our own conclusion.

For the inaugural edition of Playing devil’s advocate, I’ve decided to tackle the great Henrik Lundqvist debate (did you really think I would start with anything else?).  I’m going to break down both sides of the argument as to whether he is still elite, and whether trading the King makes any sense.

Considering The King’s looming free agency and slow start to the season, the debate about whether he is worth investing heavily in after the season was kind of inevitable.  He’s clearly looking to max out the term (a risky proposition with a 31-year old) and increase his current $6.8 million salary by a significant margin.  This has (understandably) made more than a few Rangers fans uncomfortable.  The question that is ultimately begged by this situation is: while Hank has been elite for the past nine seasons, will he continue to be elite for the next eight?  Additionally, is his pedestrian start to the season indicative of an already-in-progress decline?

The case for still elite:

Any case for Hank continuing his status as an elite NHL goaltender starts with his track record.  He has been the most consistently excellent goaltender in the NHL since Lockout II.  This means little for trying to predict the future, but thus far, Hank has yet to disappoint.  Read more »

Thoughts following last night’s win in Dallas

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

I know you just had the musings yesterday, but I have a bunch of thoughts I want to share that aren’t worth a full post.  Deal with it.  Here’s some thoughts following the Rangers 3-2 win in Dallas last night…

  • Is there really anywhere to start but with Hank?  The King was absolutely out of his mind last night.  Watching the game, there were several times I found myself gasping at his awesomeness.  Dare I say he out Tuukka’d Tuukka’s performance from the other night.  Hank’s positioning was spot on, he tracked the puck exceedingly well, and he hung with very tough second and third chances.  He was an absolute wall.
  • Man, it’s nice to have Rick Nash back.  I absolutely love watching the guy play.  His size, speed, and fluidity are all sorely missed when he’s out of the lineup.  He has this way of just mesmerizing opposing D-men as he nonchalantly glides into the zone.  I can totally understand why sometimes his teammates just stand around and watch him. Read more »

BSB Friday live chat

 

Friday chat reminder

The BSB Friday live chat returns today to torpedo your productivity at work.  Join us at 1pm, where we will be talking all things Rangers; Rick Nash’s imminent return, JT Miller’s ice time (or lack thereof), the emergence of Chris Kreider, anything you want.  See everyone this afternoon!

The NHL missed the mark on goalie fighting

Foxsports.com

Foxsports.com

Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial hockey rock, then you at least heard something about the Ray Emery/Braden Holtby incident from a few weeks back.  For those of you who didn’t, here’s the short version: during a 7-0 drubbing of the Flyers at the hands of Washington, a scrum ensued down in the Caps’ end.  Clearly frustrated, Ray Emery decided to skate the length of the ice and viciously pummel a clearly unwilling Braden Holtby.  It was disgusting and deserved supplemental discipline.  However, Brendan Shanahan was unable to cite authority in the rulebook granting him the right to impose further punishment on Sugar Ray.

Fast forward to last week, where it became known that the NHL powers-that-be were going to discuss the incident at the GM meetings in Toronto.  The only hitch, they were talking about banning goalie fights.  Wait, what?

Contrary to the title of this post, this piece actually has nothing to do with goalies.  The only thing that makes goalies relevant to this discussion is that it’s the position Emery and Holtby happen to play, and the league is taking this ridiculous stance to solve the problem.  So, let me get this straight: a willing combatant assaults a completely unwilling combatant, beats him senseless and the solution is, to ban goalie fighting? Read more »

Style analysis: Cam Talbot

Len Redkoles/Getty Images

The request for this post came from reader Michael Noltemeyer.  Thanks for reading Michael, and feel free to submit requests for posts on specific topics or questions for a mailbag at the author addresses on the right margin.

A couple years ago, I broke down the specific goaltending styles of both Henrik Lundqvist and Marty Biron.  There wasn’t really much of a need for an update to this series, since the goaltending situation remained relatively stable.  Now, with the retirement of “our Marty” and the emergence of rookie backup Cam Talbot, it’s time to break down the young man’s game.

During the pre-season, I wrote a piece introducing us to the player, his background and the main features of his game.  Much has changed since then, however, so let’s get into it with some more detail.  The previous format will still apply: analyzing the five categories of Stance, Crease movement/depth, Equipment, Puck-handling ability and Exploitable weaknesses.  Here we go… Read more »

Saturday open thread

Been kind of a crazy weekend around here at BSB, so unfortunately we won’t have a new post up until the game tonight.  Feel free to use this as your open thread for your Saturday meanderings.  The Jets and ‘Hawks are on at 3pm, and there is plenty of Premier League soccer over on NBCSN.  You can vent on the general classlessness of the Flyers organization or the absolutely disgraceful conduct of Ray Emery last night.  Just keep it civil.  Enjoy!

Thoughts following last night’s game against Buffalo

Frank Franklin II/AP

Frank Franklin II/AP

Since Dave was at the game last night and the rest of the crew was otherwise engaged, apologies for the lack of goal breakdown.   However, to fill that void, I figured I’d share some thoughts following last night’s game.

I can’t help but notice how much more organized the Rangers look in all three zones over the past couple games.  AV’s system requires constantly changing coverage assignments and a more fluid positional structure.  I can see why after four years of the relatively straight forward Torts’ zone coverage why this was an adjustment.  Seems like they are finally getting it with some consistency.

The goal scoring woes are an odd situation.  Kevin did a great job of breaking down the shooting percentage situation, and if you didn’t get a chance to read that piece, make sure do you ASAP.  Long story short, though, is that the Rangers’ shooting percentage is unsustainably low and will regress back to the mean and the scoring will come.  Last night’s game was something of a prime example of this.  Ryan Miller made some tremendous saves on pucks that would normally find the back of the net.  That game should have easily been 5-0. Read more »