Author Archive

Aug
13

Do the Rangers need elite talent to win?

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Over the past few months, we’ve been wondering where the Rangers will get that elite talent that supposedly going to launch the club into Cup contender status. It’s an interesting question, primarily because it touches heavily on small sample sizes, which is inherent in playoff hockey. Sure, if everything were stretched out for say, 82 games, the better team would win. That’s not the point though – you need to be able to sit in the pressure cooker for a maximum of seven games and make it through to the other side victorious.

So all discussions of what makes a Cup-winning team that special blend are just going to be a bit inconclusive. We simply can’t know for sure, because even though we’ve been doing this for 100 years we haven’t – not with the salary cap, the current influx of talent from around the world, modern training and equipment, and so on.

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Categories : Offseason
Comments (24)
Aug
10

Coaching and Character

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mats zuccarello

The joy of hockey, an effective strategy beyond X’s and O’s.

One of the things that’s gotten some attention this summer, at least in the press, is new coach David Quinn’s approach to building relationships. He’s talked a lot about forming strong bonds with players in interviews, guys who he already has a rapport with, and even went so far as to visit guys like Hank over in Europe (but not Zucc, which was dumb). Some people bring this up as evidence that Quinn is more of a “players’ coach” than a tactician, and while that may be true (and also compensated for by his assistants, so it’s really moot), it’s worth pointing out that this isn’t such a bad approach to coaching, insofar as the term has been used in a lightly pejorative sense.

Alain Vigneault, by contrast to what’s been said about Quinn, was a good systems coach, in that he was able to instill his type of play in guys’ every movement on and off the puck. This was cool at first, with the 2014-15 Rangers in particular playing a run and gun style that was exciting and tough to match, but eventually became stale, with fast breaks becoming predictable, defense suffering, and long stretch passes getting picked off. Add to that the total lack of communication or even accountability and AV went sour pretty quickly towards the end there – it wasn’t just that he wasn’t working out anymore, it was that he was bad. Look at his last press conference – totally delusional, touchy and defensive, and broadly in denial. If he was that bad in public imagine how bad he must have been behind closed doors.

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Categories : Offseason
Comments (5)
Aug
07

A Different Kind of Fun

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chris kreider

I’ve mentioned this before when discussing this rebuild, but a lot of what people get hung up on are the memories and moments of yesteryear. Trading away the players who brought us those fond times feels like betrayal, and the uncertainty of memories we may never get down the line is scary.

Still though, unless you’re Oilers-level bad at rebuilding, you’re going to have some probables, and maybe even sure things on the horizon (it’s also worth noting that although Edmonton is terrible at this rebuilding thing, they do have Connor McDavid). I think, even from the most conservative, skeptical vantage point, Jeff Gorton has done a pretty decent job at navigating this transitional phase, and I personally think he’s done more than just decent, but that’s just me. So there’s going to be some good things coming.

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Categories : Offseason
Comments (37)

david quinn

Friends, I don’t know about you but I’m going a little bit bonkers with no hockey to watch. Well, that’s not entirely true, because after doing a little bit of research I found that BU games are carried online by a website called Stadium, where you can watch a ton of college sports. I’m interested in David Quinn’s Terriers in particular, partially because I want to learn what kind of style he likes to play, and partially because if there’s a college team to follow it might as well be Boston University, thanks to our new coaching connection. Below I’ll provide a link to a University of Vermont v Boston University game that took place this past season, so that you can watch in another tab or window and follow along with the breakdowns of individual plays I’ve provided (just 5v5, because I figure that’s the most interesting and illuminating).

A few things to note. First is that the timestamps I’m going to provide refer to the time on the video, not the time of game, because the game clock/score isn’t always up there. Second, I’m not going to use names too much, in part because I’m more interested in the how of this hockey than the who, as well as the fact that I just don’t know them as well and don’t want to mess up (the announcing also cuts in and out and is borderline incomprehensible thanks to that thick Boston accent).

This is going to be a bit long and obsessive, but I hope you find it interesting – it’s as much of a learning experience for me as it will be for you, so I hope we can have some fun together. I’m going to try and juggle more in-depth tape breakdowns this season, college/minor league stuff ideally, provided I can balance everything with the rest of my life (I’m starting law school this fall!). Anyways, since it’s the dog days of summer I’m going to let it rip. As a brief post-script caveat, all of the “near” and “far” terminology refers to the camera angle.

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Categories : Hockey Tactics
Comments (5)
Jul
29

Unpacking Brady Skjei’s New Contract

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brady skjei

Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

In case you missed it, Brady Skjei signed a new contract with the Rangers, inking a new one that’ll keep him on the team for 6 years with an AAV of $5.25 million per. It’s an interesting deal on a lot of levels, and although there seems to be a general consensus that it’s a fair contract for both sides, the vague scent of controversy still wafts through the air, with some people disagreeing to that point. All of that is totally fine – reasonable people can always disagree, within reason, and anyways what we’re going to do here today is simply unwind what’s what, at least a little bit, with Brady Skjei and how that new contract looks.

The thing that needs to be said about this contract is what it’s not: a bridge deal. Brady Skjei, not unlike his former compatriot, a similarly smooth-skating Minnesotan, Ryan McDonagh, got the big one straight off his entry level contract. Skjei is 24 right now, with means this new deal will run him right until he’s 30. We’ll get to the bottom of the McDonagh comparison in a little bit, but this is pretty notable, as the Rangers have, or I guess now had, a history of bridging players regardless of the promise showed on their entry level. Now, Jeff Gorton has evidently recognized that in this new era, you need to bet on upside and see if you can get a guy for below market value, at least if not initially then later on, as both the player and the contract attached to him mature.

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Categories : Players
Comments (15)

david quinn

(Here’s Part I)

Back again this week is some tape analysis from yours truly, this time focusing on a big game for David Quinn’s BU team – the 2017 Hockey East Semifinal against Boston College. Below you’ll find the video I’ll be taking apart, and then I’ll jump right into it.

First up is a nice save by the BC goalie, Joseph Woll, but it’s worth taking a closer look at anyways. BU makes two good passes here moving up the ice – the first is from the near wall in the BU defensive zone right up into center ice, with the angle and the speed of the puck allowing the puck carrier to get around the two BC defenders, who were between him and the boards, not him and the faceoff spot in the middle of the ice. From there, as the four BC defenders collapse in a big of a box around the puck carrier, there’s a B forward breaking through the two defenders on the edge of the box closest to the goalie. A nice pass threaded through means a high-quality scoring chance for BU, with Woll making an even better save.

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Categories : Hockey Tactics
Comments (31)
Still not our guy

Not our guy, unfortunately

The Rangers have a new head coach as you may have heard, and with that comes a new style of play. The latter part of the equation there raises some questions about the style of play he intends to implement and the way he hopes to use his personnel, all of which can be alluded to in press conferences but have to be seen to be believed.

As such, a little bit of video analysis is called for, and although this is just a short clip and the analysis here will be pretty cursory (I’m unfortunately writing this on a bit of a short schedule, for no fault but my own, so apologies) I hope to go more in depth in the future. Without further ado, here’s a clip of BU playing Denver from 2017. It’s worth noting in this clip that BU ends up losing, which is not totally unexpected given that Denver was ranked first overall and BU only sixth, however, BU hangs in there and creates some nice plays worth picking apart.

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Categories : Hockey Tactics
Comments (2)
Jul
08

The Case for Captain Callahan

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Definition of essential: Ryan Callahan

With all the buzz about the Erik Karlsson trade that’s coming any day/week/month/year/millennium now, there’s also been a good amount of scuttlebutt about the Rangers playing middleman in such a deal. As Dave noted yesterday, one of the possibilities for the Rangers in facilitating the eventual acquisition of Erik Karlsson by the Tampa Bay Lightning would be the return of Ryan Callahan.

This would be a doozy from a salary cap standpoint, sort of, as he’s signed for $5.8 million dollars for another two years, but the “sort of” comes in when you consider that the Rangers are not likely to be super competitive for the next two years (although I’m with Dave in that they won’t be as bad as everyone thinks) and the Rangers in any event will be subsidizing his big ol’ cap hit with the amount of players on cheap deals that they’ll have (Andersson, Chytil, Buch for another year). So it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to take him on as a way to induce TBL into sending us something sweet as a thank you for helping them find room for the best defenseman of the past billion years. Beyond that though, I have a modest proposal, first suggested by the elder statesman of the Rangers beat himself, Larry Brooks.

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Categories : Musings
Comments (61)
Wahlstrom?

Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

So I know we already did this, and I kind of made my point, but Manny, who runs Corsica and is probably one of the best math minds in hockey right now, recently released NHL point equivalency coefficients for 173 different leagues (basically every league listed on Elite Prospects). Although the debate has settled down, I’m an indefatigable pedant, and just have to have the last word on the matter of Kravtsov vs Wahlstrom. I’ll keep this quick, since it’s really just a brief statistical calculation and then you can all go about your days.

So to start, below is the thread that begins the list of NHLe coefficients. For full transparency, what I’m going to do is calculate each of Kravtsov and Wahlstrom’s points per game in the leagues they played, based on their data from Elite Prospects, and then use Manny’s coefficients to convert it to NHL points per game. From there, just so we have a more concrete, intuitive idea of what’s what, I’ll then convert the NHLe to a full 82 games worth of points. Let’s have at it.

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Categories : Prospects
Comments (43)
Jul
03

Let’s Take a Dump, Together

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So UFA Day has come and gone, with the dust settling not only on the Tavares bombshell decision to go to the Leafs but also the various other smaller names. Teams are starting to get an idea of what their rosters are going to look like, or at the very least what they want their rosters to look like. This last bit is crucial for Jeff Gorton, who, having already made the deft move of doing nothing in the UFA market, could really add some extra umph to his Rangers renovation project by taking on a bad contract or two in exchange for further prospects and picks. It’s time to take a dump, in other words.

There’s a few options for whose bad salary cap hit we could take on for the low low price of a nice draft pick or a top prospect, and there’s certainly teams who would be willing to oblige for variety of reasons. Let’s start with the most obvious candidate looking to move something bad in exchange for something good: the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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Categories : Offseason
Comments (110)