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Getting the most out of Martin St. Louis

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Courtesy of Getty Images

It has started already hasn’t it? Like Nash vs. Dubi & Arty, or Torts vs. AV, or Prust vs. [insert annual banger’s last name here], Rangers fans are watching Martin St. Louis’ every move and comparing them to the box scores coming out of Tampa.

To date, many have already declared a winner and loser of this trade. Our former captain has potted 6 points in 9 games, including a game winner. Moreover, his fit with the Tampa Bay Lightning was recently described as ‘seamless’ by head coach John Cooper.

For the Rangers? Marty’s integration with the Blueshirts has been about as fitting as a suit from Men’s Warehouse. Far from bespoke.

With that said, now isn’t the time to analyze the trade or compare box scores on a game by game basis. That won’t do anyone any good. Right now, we have to figure out how to make this work, because this whole zero goals in eleven games thing can’t continue much longer.

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Start a fire – NYR win battle in Columbus

I win.

I win.

Getting the two points last night almost seemed liked the cherry on top. For me the sundae was finally seeing Rick Nash play like the power forward he was billed as when we first acquired  him.

Nasher played with a lot of emotion. He was physical, driving to the net, and just making ‘stuff’ happen below the dots. As for the fight, typically you don’t want one of your best goal scorers dropping the gloves, but hey sometimes you have to stick up for yourself. All said, if last night was the spark to ignite the fire in Nash’s belly, then hopefully it burns awhile.

As for the rest of this game, it was great to see such emotion from everyone up and down the bench. This was the first game since the Cally trade where the boys finally looked liked they had some wind in their sails. Hopefully this continues as games aren’t going to get any easier here on out. Still no sign of MSL though.

On to the goals:

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Rangers still struggling to find consistency

The memory remains

The memory remains

Just thirteen games remain in the regular season and the Rangers are still struggling to find consistency. Back in January, things seemed to have finally clicked and the Rangers looked like they were headed in the right direction.

However, in the 10 games since the Olympic break, they have won four times and are averaging just 2.2 goals per game. What’s worse the power play, the team’s lone offensive strength, is clicking at just 14%.

Right now, it appears things could go either way for the Blueshirts. And despite having played 69 games, you wonder if this is all we’re going to get out of them this season, or if there’s still a late LA Kings-like surge hiding up their sleeves.

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Thursday Musings: buyouts, contracts, pipe dreams, & more

Moving on up?

Moving on up?

Admin note 1: The upgrade had some issues last night, and will continue into today. I am disabling comments on this post for now, as this is currently on the old database. This post will reappear on the new database when this is complete.

Admin note 2: Comments have been activated. The migration is near complete, but there will be limited functionality until it is complete.

Before we jump into this week’s musings, I first want to thank everyone for their patience as our site’s server was recently upgraded and we were unable to post anything for the last 24 hours. As Dave stated yesterday, hopefully this upgrade will help the site run a little smoother and faster.

Back to business. Below are this week’s random thoughts on the state of the Rangers. As always, feel free to pop off in the comments section below.

The last Stral?

This past week Larry Brooks reported that Anton Stralman turned down a three-year, nine million dollar contract offer from the Rangers. Two thoughts on this. First, Stralman isn’t worth much more than that. While he’s been a dependable defensemen, Diaz and Klein – both right-handed shots – make Stralman expendable. Both guys were accustomed to playing around 18 minutes a night prior to their trade to the Rangers.

The other interesting thing about this news was that Stralman’s agent denied the report, which leads me to believe the Rangers leaked this to Larry Brooks and not Stralman’s camp. I don’t know how the rest of you feel, but I’m getting pretty tired of these public contract negotiations which seem to be happening more and more with our current players. I wonder if they’re getting sick of this too.

Contracts Staal-ed

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Rangers need Nash more than they need to make a trade

Nash

Nash

Other than the start of free agency, perhaps there’s no other time of the year where hockey fans, the media, and even front office staff get overly excited about other team’s players. Some trade deadline’s end up as complete busts, while other’s see more movement than anyone could have anticipated. How this week will turn out, nobody knows for sure.

However, for the first time in a rather long time, I’m hoping the Rangers will stand pat. Even if it means holding on to you-know-who regardless of whether he signs a new contract by 3pm Wednesday. This year the reason to stand pat is simple — we’re playing very well and we still have yet to see the best of Rick Nash.

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Boomer ramps up Callahan trade discussion

Courtesy of NYR Zone

Courtesy of NYR Zone

In case you missed it, Boomer Esiason sent Twitter into a craze over the weekend when he posted a series of tweets alluding that Ryan Callahan will be traded before the deadline. What started as a more casual conversation with ambiguous thoughts and ‘gut feelings’ turned in to something much more.

By the time he was done responding to fans he had crossed out potential trade partners as well as specific trade candidates. In other words, he’s claiming to know something. This whole thing was basically positioned as something where both parties already agree upon the framework of a deal. For all of his tweets, click here.

Now I know some of you may ask, how would a former NFL QB get inside scope on the Rangers? It’s a fair question and the answer doesn’t seem obvious, at least not at first.

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Olympic hockey systems starting to take shape

Last week in my NHL fan guide to Olympic hockey, I briefly spoke about how systems on international ice can be a bit different than what we are used to seeing in North American rinks. After watching much of group play, we’re starting to get a sense of how teams are tactically approaching their opponents with the extra 15 feet of ice.

If there’s one common denominator in many of these games, it is that there’s still not a hell of a lot of room out there, especially in the neutral zone. I expected a lot of trapping from the Latvia’s and Slovenia’s, as overmatched teams generally employ such systems. However, even top teams like Canada, Sweden, and Finland are using these same conservative structures.

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NHL fan guide to Olympic hockey

The King

The King

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are underway and soon hockey fans from around the globe will be treated to the best ice hockey tournament not named the Stanley Cup playoffs. For the 5th straight Winter games, NHL players will officially be allowed to participate. And as a result, expectations for gold are highest around Canada, Sweden, the US, and of course the host country – Mother Russia.

Tracking the quest for gold is always the main reason for following the Olympics. However, this year in particular there are quite a few other narratives that are equally compelling and definitely worth waking up early to watch.

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Goal breakdown: Rangers vs. Oilers

So close

So close

Although the Rangers won the puck possession game with 60 even strength Corsi events (shots+missed shots+attempts blocked) to Edmonton’s 46, they just couldn’t find a way to win. The Rangers also had way too many giveaways — 15 to be exact — to a team they should have had a better time managing the puck against.

On the positive side, Captain Callahan had another solid game with 8 hits, 2 blocked shots and several grade A chances, including a breakaway that just wouldn’t go. I know, I’m starting to sound like Doc.

And a shotttttttttttt!

Anyway, on to the goals:

Rangers 0, Oilers 1

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Monday Mailbag: Systems, Trade winds & more

You got questions. The Suit has answers.
You got questions. The Suit has answers.

Happy Monday Rangers fans. I hope everyone had a fun and safe Super Bowl Sunday. We received a few good questions over the past few weeks, so hopefully I can provide some good answers as the Rangers continue their push towards the playoffs.

You’ve written that the Rangers play an ‘overload defense’ but NBC continues to label the Rangers as team that plays man-on-man coverage, which is it?
-Bob

When it comes to defensive zone coverages, a lot of coaches just don’t want their clubs playing one way anymore. Alain Vigneault is one of those coaches. Without getting too repetitive, as I’ve covered this before, AV has our boys playing an overload defense when the puck is along the half wall. However, when the puck ends up down low, they switch to man-on-man. Recognizing the overload vs. man-on-man vs. zone isn’t too hard to spot.

The overload has defenses outnumbering the opposition (e.g., 3-on-2, 2-on-1) in certain parts of the ice. Man-on-man coverages mean players defend evenly and will follow their check. There is often a lot of movement around the slot, almost resembling a cyclone with guys swirling everywhere. Zone means skaters will defend a patch of ice, so defenses end up looking like a more static geometric shape (e.g., box+1, triangle+2, etc.).

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