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A Plea for Stability

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Please pair this man with Shattenkirk!

The New York Rangers are officially in an early-season crisis, with just three points earned from their first seven games.  While many are pointing to a similar start in 2013-2014 as reason to keep calm, there’s enough statistical precedent to be concerned.

When a team finds itself in a downward spiral like this, there is never just one singular problem, but a combination of factors.  In addition to the intangibles (lack of confidence, bad luck) the Rangers have not managed their personnel well to this point.  There are curious lineup choices across the board, exacerbated by the nightly shuffling of players in and out of, and up and down the lineup.

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Categories : Coaching
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The New York Rangers are off to their worst start (1-5) since 1980, when final scores like 7-2 and 8-4 were commonplace.  The team has done a little bit of everything wrong in each of its five losses, and in fact were not particularly good in their lone victory against Montreal (thanks, Henrik!).

It’s been two weeks of poor hockey, and the Rangers are already on course to make their lives difficult in terms of playoff positioning when March and April come around.  Think of it this way: even if the Rangers manage to go a respectable 8-6 over their next 14 games, they’ll be 9-11 at the quarter mark of the season.  It’s a long climb out when you dig yourself an early-season hole in the NHL.

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There are zero days until the New York Rangers season begins.  A long and intriguing off-season has brought about the usual combination of excitement and uncertainty that accompanies a new season in any sport.

For the Rangers, there are still plenty of questions that need answering, most of which won’t be addressed on Opening Night.  Tonight is one for clichés, fun and storylines: season debuts and first-ever goals.  Of course the game itself matters, but it’s the very beginning of a six month marathon.  If the Rangers slip up, they’ve got 81 games to right the ship.

Still, there’s plenty to get excited about as 2017-2018 kicks off.  Here’s what I’m most looking forward to:

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JT Miller celebrates like a boss.

In just 18 short days, the Rangers will open the 2017-2018 season with high hopes and elevated expectations.  A busy off-season left in its wake a roster that is stronger than last year’s in some areas, but potentially weaker in others.  Such is life in the salary cap era.

By adding Kevin Shattenkirk and re-signing Brendan Smith (an almost forgotten-about, but extremely smart and important move), the Rangers undoubtedly begin this season with their best defense corps in at least a half decade – question marks on the bottom pair notwithstanding.  On any given night, the Blueshirts’ top four defenseman will likely be superior to their opponent’s.  The power play prowess of Shattenkirk will surely be a boost as well.

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Categories : Preseason
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adam graves

After a brief hiatus, the Blue Seat Blogs #TBT series returns.  Our first two editions revisited memorable Rangers regular season wins.  But because being a Ranger fan involves a little bit of masochism, this week’s trip back takes us to the most recent nadir of Rangers hockey: the early 2000’s.

After winning the Stanley Cup in 1994, the Rangers declined slowly and then all at once, as the core of Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Mike Richter and Adam Graves aged.  Rock bottom wouldn’t truly come until 2004, but if you lived through this era of Rangers hockey, you likely have done your best to delete it from your memory.

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Categories : Offseason
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Welcome back for another edition of Blue Seat Blogs’ Throwback Thursday.  In last week’s edition, we revisited Nikolai Zherdev’s last gasp, game-tying goal against the Penguins way back in 2008.  This week, we jump forward in the time machine nearly four years to reminisce about another memorable matchup with a division rival.

For fans of a certain age, hockey hatred was learned not by watching Rangers-Habs or Rangers-Isles, but Rangers-Devils.  While the rivalry has lost some steam in recent years, Rangers-Devils still evokes a distinct type of of animus among the Garden Faithful.

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Categories : Musings
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Remember me?

Folks, it’s July.  And not just July, but the MIDDLE of the July, which is the worst time of year for a hockey fan.  The fun part of free agency is over with, the #hockeyinsiders are on vacation, and the players are enjoying some free time before getting serious again ahead of the new season.  The clock ticks ever so slowly towards October 5th.

In order to pass the time, I thought it would be fun to take a weekly stroll down memory lane, at least until we have some more substantial and current Rangers-related issues to discuss.

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Categories : Musings
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Are the Rangers Better Today?

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The dust of free agency is beginning to settle, and the 2017-2018 edition of the New York Rangers is beginning to take shape.  The Blueshirts did what they historically do and landed the biggest fish in the free agency pond, though this time they didn’t overpay.  The prize was Kevin Shattenkirk, who joins his favorite boyhood team at the perfect moment for both parties.

The upgrade from a top pairing of Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi to Ryan McDonagh-Kevin Shattenkirk is almost laughable in nature.  Shattenkirk is one of the most complete defensemen in the NHL, capable of playing big minutes in all situations, and a lock to deliver consistent power play production.  He’s a fluid skater, a right-handed shot, and if his July 1st interviews are any indication, he couldn’t be more excited to be joining the Rangers.  This was the perfect signing in practically every way.

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justin williams

As we barrel towards July 1, Rangerstown has been ablaze with discussion about how to fill in the vacancy left by the departure of Derek Stepan.  The crop of available centers notoriously thin, headlined by 37-year old Joe Thornton.  Other options include Martin Hanzal, Mike Fisher, Sam Gagner, and old pal Brian Boyle.  While all are solid players in their own right, none of them really move the needle for the Rangers, who are “rebuilding on the fly” but also trying to remain in contention (as evidenced by yesterday’s re-signing of Brendan Smith).

There’s only one name in the free agent crop of forwards that has intrigued me since season’s end: Justin Williams.  I realize that the mere mention of his name is like a dagger to the heart for many of us who still feel the dull pain of the 2014 final lingering, but hear me out.

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Categories : Offseason
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Should the Rangers Trade Derek Stepan?

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Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Hey folks, and welcome to a new weekly series where we’ll take a look at potential trade candidates on the Rangers roster and explore the reasons for and against trading them this offseason.  Of course, the case for making a trade is inherently dependent on the value of the return, but this column won’t speculate on that.  Instead, I’ll focus on the merits of the individual player himself in a fun (and dare I say, hot take-ish) way.  It should also make for some interesting debate in the comments.  So, here goes:

Yes, the Rangers should trade Derek Stepan

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Categories : Offseason, Players
Comments (88)