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The Rangers’ west coast swing has opened with a thud.  The undermanned Blueshirts lost 3-1 to the Avalanche on Saturday, then fell to the Kings last night 4-2.  The team was lethargic in Denver, and while last night’s effort was a bit more spirited, the process (NYR were badly out-attempted and out-chanced in both games) and results were bad.

As Dave mentioned earlier today, all of the signals are there that the front office is lining up the pieces to sell at the deadline.  And yet, this is the Rangers, so we’ll see.

In any event, the Blueshirts have two more games out west before the weeklong All-Star Break.  Before we get to the Skills Competition with a side of Kid Rock, let’s take a quick look at the next two opponents.

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Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Rangers badly needed to follow up Tuesday’s win over the Flyers with a solid performance, and bank two more points.  With the bottom-dwelling Sabres in town, the Rangers didn’t disappoint, winning 4-3.  Though the game was a little bit close for comfort, it was another encouraging performance from the Blueshirts, who seem to have bounced back after hitting rock bottom in Pittsburgh.

The Rangers normally rely on a balanced scoring attack, but they’ve found a top line and have started to ride its collective hot hand.  Rick Nash potted two more goals (he now has four in the last two games alone), and Pavel Buchnevich got the game-winner to stave off overtime after the Sabres tied the game 3-3 late in the third.  Let’s take a look at the goals.

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Categories : Game Wrap-ups
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Apologies, loyal readers, if the attitude of the BSB staff seems particularly dour right now.  But it’s pretty clear why that is: the New York Rangers have given us nothing to get excited about.

Recent results have been demonstrably mediocre, and the on-ice process has been horrid.  The Rangers, who have not won a game in regulation since December 19 at home against Anaheim, now find themselves in a pickle for playoff positioning.  Here are the Metropolitan Division and Wild Card Standings, as of Monday January 15.

Metropolitan Division Standings – January 15, 2018

Wild Card Standings – January 15, 2018

The Rangers begin the week with two games on home ice, before hitting the road for a four-game west coast road trip.  Let’s take a quick look at this week’s slate of games.

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Paul J. Bereswill

At the end of tonight’s game in Arizona, the Rangers will reach the midway point of their 2017-18 regular season.  That means it’s time for some midseason report cards!  To kick things off, we’ll be focusing on the top six forwards.

Complicating matters slightly is the fact that the Rangers don’t have a strict delineation between their top six and bottom six.  There’s definitely a fourth line.  There’s Kevin Hayes handling tough match-ups on a nightly basis, but his wingers have rotated regularly.  So for the purposes of this exercise, let’s call the following players “the top six”: Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich, Mats Zuccarello, Rick Nash, JT Miller and David Desharnais.  Yes, that’s actually seven forwards.  Just roll with it.

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The Rangers and Red Wings played another entertaining, low-scoring game on Friday Night.  Detroit ultimately prevailed in the shootout, 3-2.  Like the last time these teams met, Henrik Lundqvist and Jimmy Howard were a big part of the story.  This time however, the referees played a major role as well, adding drama and intrigue to this midseason matchup.

A questionable call on Brendan Smith (an illegal check to the head was called, when replays showed there was no contact to the head) sucked all the momentum from the Rangers as they pushed for a go-ahead goal in the third period.  Marc Staal also committed a tripping penalty with 1:20 remaining in the game, which bled into the overtime period.  Then the Rangers got a call, as Brady Skjei drew a penalty shot in overtime.  Unfortunately he couldn’t convert, and the game was decided in the coin-flip that is the shootout.

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It’s hard to believe that we’re nearly at the halfway point of the 2017-18 NHL season.  As I type this, the Vegas Golden Knights are sitting alone at the top of the Western Conference, with 50 points from 35 games played.  The New Jersey Devils can’t stop winning (yuck), the LA Kings are back, and the Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres appear to be locked in a battle for the #1 pick in next year’s draft.  It’s been a strange year so far, to say the least.

The same holds true for our beloved Rangers.  Panic set in quickly in October, the ship was steadied somewhat in November, and December has been largely mediocre, but could have been much worse if not for guys named Lundqvist and Pavelec.  Here, in no particular order, are some thoughts on the Rangers, and the NHL as a whole.

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Categories : Musings
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Vinni Lettieri in preseason action vs. Philadelphia

The Rangers made a roster move this morning, recalling Vinni Lettieri from the Hartford Wolfpack.  Though we have no further information at this time, it’s safe to assume that Chris Kreider will miss Friday’s game in Detroit.

Lettieri was one of the bright spots in training camp this fall, and his good play continued into his first full season of professional hockey at the AHL level.  Lettieri has scored 12 goals and added 9 assists for 21 points in 31 games played for the Pack.

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Categories : Transactions
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Dec
14

Ryan McDonagh’s Strange Season

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The Rangers up-and-down start to the 2017-18 season has called into question every facet of the team.  From Alain Vigneault’s obvious flaws, to questions about Henrik Lundqvist’s “decline”, to the lack of real center depth, there’s been no shortage of talking points as fans and analysts have tried to figure out why the Rangers have been largely mediocre this season.

One of the players that’s caught my eye this season, often for the wrong reasons, is Ryan McDonagh.  Even the most staunch McDonagh fan would have to admit that the Ranger captain just doesn’t look right.  His up-and-down season reached its nadir with a historically bad performance on Tuesday night vs. Dallas.

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We’ve spoken a lot about the Rangersslow starts recently, and they were finally victimized by an early deficit. The Blueshirts lost on home ice for the first time in 8 games to the Florida Panthers 5-4.  The loss was particularly gut-wrenching, as the team clawed back from deficits of 3-0 and 4-1 to tie the game, carried by the newly formed “KDB” line.  David Desharnais filled in admirably on the top line for Mika Zibanejad, who warmed up but missed the game with a mysterious “upper-body injury.”  Desharnais, Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich recorded three points each and nearly propelled the Rangers to a memorable win.

Unlike Sunday’s game vs. Vancouver, the Rangers were not guilty of no-showing the first period.  They created several chances and generally controlled play, but still found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-0 score, thanks in large part to James Reimer.  His counterpart Henrik Lundqvist didn’t make it out of the first period, and the Rangers were eventually undone by a couple of egregious miscues (and a dubious disallowed goal) in what was otherwise a solid effort. Read More→

Categories : Game Wrap-ups
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BRUCE BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES

In hockey, sometimes you lose games you should win, and others you win when you should lose.  The latter applies to the Rangers in yesterday’s afternoon tussle with the Vancouver Canucks.  The Rangers were awful in the first period, and only marginally better in the second and third.  They survived a frantic overtime and two shootout deficits before escaping with the win, their fourth in a row.

Henrik Lundqvist was brilliant again, and the Rangers made the most of the chances they were able to create.  It was a disjointed effort, rife with turnovers and sloppy defense.  It wasn’t all bad of course, as again the Rangers showcased their superior offensive talent and comeback ability.  The Rangers are a dangerous team when they have the puck, but they won’t be considered a serious contender until they improve defensively.  Read More→

Categories : Game Wrap-ups
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