On this week’s episode of the Blue Seat Blogs-Cast we’re joined by special guest Sean Hartnett of WFAN 66/CBS Local and Blueshirt Bulletin to preview the upcoming trade deadline. As always you can find us right here, on iTunes, and on SoundCloud.
Damn does it feel good to beat the Washington Capitals. A standout performance from Henrik Lundqvist and some ludicrous pace from the rest of the team early on helped the Rangers to a 2-1 victory over their perennial playoff rivals in Sunday’s matinee game. Although the Rangers took their foot off the gas in the second period, a solid third frame helped seal the deal.
Depending on how you look at things this was either a positive litmus test for the Rangers heading into the home stretch or emblematic of the team’s inability to play three solid periods of hockey, all while hiding behind their all-star goaltender. I’ll leave that up to you to decide – here are the goals.
RANGERS 1 CAPITALS 0
With every passing day the trade deadline draws closer, with teams already likely in the preliminary stages of making whatever deals we’ll eventually see transpire. The Rangers are likely to be active at the deadline one way or another, and while I’m not going to make specific recommendations or prescribe particular remedies to what’s ailing the team (given that I’ve already done that, and given that there’s certainly more than one way to improve this team) I do want to unpack the crucial thought process that a team must undertake in the run up to the deadline.
In short, it all has to do with whether or not this team sees itself as a true contender, and whether or not that’s actually true. We’ve seen in previous years the Rangers’s tendency to go all in, adding pieces at the deadline in order to give the team a shot at the Cup. While I think it’s certainly admirable to try and contend every year possible and give Henrik Lundqvist a shot at his Cup, we’ve also seen in previous years that this hasn’t exactly worked out.
On this week’s Blue Seat Blogs-Cast Dave and Pat unpack the team’s 6-game win streak, Pavel Buchnevich’s benching, and a light tease of next week’s trade talks. As always you can find us right here, on SoundCloud, and on iTunes. Be sure to leave us reviews on Soundcloud and iTunes!
Sharp goaltending, fast paced action, and frequent use of special teams marked this game, as the Rangers topped Columbus on the road to extend their win streak further. Both teams used powerplays to swing the momentum in their favor but ultimately it was the Rangers who were able to keep up the pressure, responding to Nick Foligno’s game-tying goal with an excellent marker from Jimmy Vesey.
Antti Raanta had a 30 save game, easily matching Sergei Bobrovsky and coming up big in the last minute of the game to secure the Rangers’s lead while CBJ had the extra man. Ultimately it was a solid performance, the kind of game you like to see from your team on the road, and two big points against a divisional rival in a crucial race to the playoffs.
The defensemen on the Ducks have been a topic of conversation all year. Cam Fowler was the rumored odd man out, but Bob McKenzie said he has been so good for the Ducks he’s practically untradeable. With that in mind, I thought I’d revive a little idea we had on the podcast some while back as it pertains to fixing this blue line: trading for Josh Manson.
You see, the Ducks are in a bind. They have a fairly stacked blueline, plus need to protect Kevin Bieksa in the upcoming expansion draft due to his NMC. They can’t protect all of Fowler, Bieksa, Manson, Sami Vatanen, and Hampus Lindholm, so it stands to reason that one of them will end up being traded or the Ducks risk losing them for nothing. While there’s certainly a chance that ends up being Vatanen, I’ll save that hype-train for Dave, who more or less is his biggest fan. Instead, let’s imagine that Manson is the odd man out here.
It’s no secret that defense is the big problem area for the New York Rangers. Fans know it, pundits know it, and by the sound of things GM Jeff Gorton knows it. This defensive corps is simply not fit to contend for a Cup, and has held back an otherwise talented forward group as the team gets hemmed in its own end and struggles to complete successful breakouts.
Revamping this defense is Gorton’s number one priority as he heads into the trade deadline and the offseason, and as I hinted at in this week’s post about my dream acquisition, it’s something that’s been on my mind as well. I’ve given some thought to how the Rangers might go about fixing things, and hopefully they can do so without losing too much of their offensive mojo. How might they go about ameliorating the present situation you ask? Hold onto your butts.
This week on the Blue Seat Blogs-cast, Pat and Becky discuss Henrik’s return to form, Mats Zuccarello’s insane assist production, answer listener questions and talk about #BellLetsTalk Day! As always you can find us right here, on SoundCloud, and on iTunes.
The New York Rangers started off strong and then tapered off in the first half of the season, largely due to their shooting percentage descending back down from the heavens, but also in part due to injuries to three of their top six forwards. Rick Nash, Mika Zibanejad, and Pavel Buchnevich all spent significant time on injured reserve, and their collective return has helped the Rangers find more of a scoring touch and get the most out of their forward depth. Still, with the way the last few games have been going, there’s work to be done.
Let’s start with the positive: DJ ZBad, Buch, and Nash are all finally back, and their return should be a major help as we head into the second half of the season. Zibanejad, although he’s only played two games so far, has recorded two goals for a P60 of 4.17. He’s also helped reinvigorate the Rangers’s power play, with his one-timer proving to be a serious threat that other teams now have to respect. Lastly, although it’s an incredibly small sample size, he’s got a 56.92 CF% for a relCF% of 8.77.
One of the bigger tasks on GM Jeff Gorton’s plate this summer was revamping the bottom six. The Rangers had just met a quick defeat at the hands of eventual Stanley Cup winning Pittsburgh Penguins and throughout the series (and much of the regular season, depending on the opponent) was that the Rangers depth players simply couldn’t match up against those of elite teams. I won’t beat a dead horse too much, but I will note that Tanner Glass saw significant minutes in the playoffs last year. Enough said.
Gorton rose to the occasion and made savvy acquisitions in the offseason, most notably Michael Grabner and Brandon Pirri, and later picked up Matt Puempel on waivers from Ottawa. While Grabner has obviously been the standout amongst this group the three of them, and call-up Marek Hrivik, have given the bottom six a whole new look. The Rangers’s bottom two lines are now primarily identifiable by their speed and puck handling ability, as opposed to their propensity to bleed shot attempts.