Archive for Around the League
It’s interesting. If you watched the Rangers play, while ignoring the rest of the conference, you might think they are destined for greatness. They’re playing uptempo hockey, bagging 2.92 goals per game. The power play is over 19% for the first time since Leetch was dropping knowledge on the NHL. Most importantly, they can just flat out fly whenever they play their game.
However, despite winning 15 of 18 games at one point, the Rangers sit in 8th place in the Eastern Conference. A playoff berth seems likely, but a chance to win the Cup still remains an elusive goal.
Tampa has our number. Ryan Callahan has dictated that much. The Bruins still manhandle us every time we take a trip up I-95. The Islanders have out scored us 13-4 this season. While we may be built for West Coast trips, handling our own conference is a different story.
Who would have thunk it? Every season since this whole “loser’s point” thing that Senor Bettman introduced after Lockout: The Sequel, the playoff picture has been cloudy up until the last week of the season. This time around, the playoff picture is crystal clear, and the games remaining are more about jockeying for positioning than qualifying for the postseason.
In the Atlantic, Boston is finally playing Boston hockey again, and have regained their playoff spot while Toronto free-falls towards Conor McJesus and Florida falls back from the high heavens. With a seven point cushion for fourth place, Boston (along with Montreal, Detroit, and Tampa Bay) are essentially locks for the postseason.
With All-Star weekend upon us, it’s about that time again to evaluate who’s hot, who’s not, and exactly what has been going on while we’ve been in our Blueshirt bubble. It’s been a season filled with surprisingly good teams, surprising struggles and a strange new tradition up north of throwing jerseys onto the ice.
New York Islanders – as a Rangers blog, I’m sorry to open on this note, but credit is well due for the Isles so far this season. Given a healthy, talented young core and a steady netminder, the Islanders are sitting pretty atop the Eastern Conference, making work of the Penguins this past weekend and making it look easy. John Tavares is living up to his studly name, contributing with 45 points (21G, 24A) and a 14% shooting percentage. 8 other Islanders, including two defensemen, have 20+ points so far on the season. With contributions coming from every line, if the defense gels up a bit more, they’re a serious playoff threat. Would be an interesting way to leave Long Island, for sure…
The All-Star selections came out yesterday, making it a huge topic of conversation since it’s been three years since the last All-Star game. Some basic facts to know about the game are that it’ll take place in Columbus this year, it takes place on Sunday, January 25 (two weeks!), and that each team has to have at least one representative there.
If you’re unfamiliar with the selection process, the first six players are selected by fan vote and the remainder is selected by a committee. Keeping in mind that each team needs a representative will help you with this list of “all stars,” but it still doesn’t sit well with me.
I was watching some hockey game last week – Lord knows it wasn’t the Rangers, since they had basically all week off – when the standings flashed on my screen and I nearly choked on my hot chocolate. The FLORIDA PANTHERS have more points than the Rangers!? Surely I must’ve been drunk, but no, I wasn’t. I wondered what the heck was going on around the league.
We’re more than a third of the way through the season, so although nothing is set in stone, most of the trends we see are, well, more than just trends. There were some predictions I made early in the season which are horribly wrong (I thought the Oilers would break out. I understand if you don’t want to read this post anymore), and some that were right. Instead of analyzing these, I’m breaking down what you need to know in my (second) favorite form: bulletpoint.
With the Rangers playing so many games in such a little amount of time, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole league out there that’s been happening without us. Luckily, you don’t need Center Ice or NHL.com when you’ve got a Sunday BSB update. A lot of really amusing things have been happening lately, so let’s go through them.
The Maple Leafs (temporarily) turn into the Oilers
On Tuesday, the Maple Leafs lost to the Predators 9-2. As in, if you were watching TV and just saw the score, you’d think Toronto just got an NFL squad and lost in a strange, safety-filled game. Though the Leafs are prone to these blowouts at least once per season (hello Rangers last season), this loss came after a lifeless loss to the Sabres. The Leafs didn’t even look like they were trying against Nashville and, surprise, fans were pissed. This came in a week where Phil Kessel blew up at the media and the Leafs, after finally winning, didn’t salute their fans in an effort to “try something new.” The Leafs truly are the gift that keep on giving. Read More→
The NHL has finally killed the dry scrape of the ice between the third period and overtime of tie games. The reasons for killing it were obvious: It took too long and the crowd died after it. The last dry scrape will be done on Saturday.
Also, the phrase “dry scrape” sounds horrible. It sounds like an invasive test at a doctor’s office where you walk funny afterwards.
LA Kings’ defenseman Slava Voynov was arrested early Monday morning on charges of domestic violence, a story that unfortunately made more headlines than your average NHL story. Voynov has been suspended indefinitely pending the investigation, which came after his girlfriend was rushed to the hospital with injuries.
Of course, when something heinous happens, it’s very easy to assume things. We think we know everything because we have a nasty habit of wanting to know the news as soon as possible, regardless of its verity. The facts here as we know them are that a woman involved with Voynov was rushed to the hospital, and that the doctors deemed it necessary to alert police. We also know that, although we rip on Gary Bettman mercilessly, the NHL doesn’t want to channel their inner Roger Goodell, and would rather the player be suspended to handle the situation than be playing and glorified when they’re accused of a disgusting crime.
We’re almost two weeks into the regular season, giving teams a light litmus test of where they stand against the league. It’s important to remember that it is still very, very early in the season, but 5 or 6 games gives coaches enough of an idea of which lines are working and which aren’t.
Here in Rangerland, we’ve spent a lot of time analyzing defensive woes and arguing over whether or not we should be worried. It’s easy to forget that there’s a whole league out there, even though there’s a team only 15 miles away from us. In the spirit of keeping our friends close and our enemies closer, we should take a look at what’s going on around the league.
So… what exactly is happening outside of the Garden? Read More→
When Lockout: The Sequel happened and wiped out the entire 2004-2005 season, the NHL was at an all time low. Too much clutch and grab, too little skill, and too many “enforcers” that couldn’t actually play the game of hockey. The game was in a bad place, and something needed to be done.
This was also the time when coaches routinely deployed their lineups in the following manner: Two scoring lines, called the top-six, one checking line, and one line of enforcers to “keep the peace.” As the game has evolved since Lockout: The Sequel through Lockout: I Can’t Believe We Are Going Through This Again, the anatomy of a lineup evolved as well.