Wrong side of the net, Khudobin.
This past week kind of embodies what it’s been like to be a Rangers fan the past few years. They had a stellar showing against some weak competition after calls for the team to go on a run through a soft portion of the schedule. So far, so good, right? We always have that little seed of doubt, due mostly to runs of maddening inconsistency and lingering concerns about the results matching the #fancystats or the eye test.
As I was kicking around ideas for a post for today, I realized there are some interesting concepts floating around the team, but no prevailing narrative since we are all kind of holding out breathe to see if this team has really turned the corner after injuries and inconsistency. So, you get a thoughts post… Read more »
50 goal season?
What a difference a week makes. The Rangers went to Western Canada unsure of themselves and came back on a roll, with a double header against a weak opponent on tap. It’s the festive season and the Rangers can really make some ground up to close out the year. A week to go before Christmas, let’s muse.
The cliché was always that power forwards take several years to maximise their potential. Could it really be that Rick Nash has only just begun to fulfil his potential? Yes he has been an elite power forward for several years and a consistent goal scorer but it’s a fair argument that he’s never maxed his undoubted skill set and upside. Until now.
Nash is definitely having the best patch of his career. Consistent, a beast at both ends all the while he’s finishing at an unprecedented rate. He’s a game changing force every single game. It’s early, but people have started to whisper the words Hart Trophy candidate with regard to Nash. Absolutely deserves to be in the mix.
Should we be worried about Dan Boyle? Or glad that he’s a sort of afterthought because of the improved play of the Rangers ‘big three’ on the blueline?
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It’s just an ear, he has two of them.
It’s been a dead two weeks in Rangerland lately. The schedule is the reason behind this, as the Rangers played games on 11/29 and 12/1, followed by four days off. They then repeated the Saturday/Monday games with another four days off. Four games over a span of two weeks means significant rest. Considering how banged up the Rangers have been all season, this was a good time to get that rest.
You guys know me, I’m a fan of my bullet points for musings, so here we go.
- Despite dealing with major injuries throughout the start of the year, the Rangers have emerged as one of the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division. I expect them to finish in the top-three, behind the Penguins and the Islanders (who are for real). Washington has actually started to play defense for the first time in recent memory, so they could be a surprise. After that, the Devils have the same old issues as last year: Can’t score, despite fantastic possession numbers.
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Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images
The Rangers have had a relatively light week which gives us some time to reflect on the Rangers’ play this year including some statistical insight. No fancy stats, just numbers.
Reflecting on players’ performances to this point in the season, how many Rangers have justified their cap hit this season? Rick Nash, Martin St Louis, Derick Brassard and Derick Stepan have all justified their deals to this point. Brassard and Nash in particular have been good if not great while St Louis has torn it up the past couple weeks to cast aside the indifferent games he had as a center.
After that? Carl Hagelin represents good value, Lee Stempniak could flirt with 15-20 goals if he stays in the line-up, Dom Moore has been as advertised (reliable) and Matt Hunwick – the occasional gaffe aside – has certainly been worth a 600k commitment. Kevin Klein’s contract has become more and more acceptable as his game has improved. That makes nine for those counting.
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Goal scorer extraordinaire (Scott Levy/Getty Images)
Have a happy thanksgiving everyone. Just a few Rangers thoughts to keep you going as you head into the thanksgiving weekend.
Last season it was a ‘Marty St Louis love fest’. The two games against the Lightning this season, well they have been Ryan Callahan love fests. Given the Rangers’ familiarity with their former captain and fan favourite it is completely unacceptable Callahan can have as much time and space in front of Lundqvist as he has done. Has a player ever torched their ex-club so much in their first games against their former employers as Captain Cally has?
Once again, we’ve seen the ugly side of Marc Staal. He was awful against Callahan and the Lightning. Yet he was excellent against the Canadiens and Flyers. Again, this type of inconsistency cannot be accepted especially for someone wanting the dollars Staal does.
Rick Nash scores when he wants. Nash had one of his quieter games in recent weeks. He wasn’t as dominant as he usually is yet he had a two point night. It’s always a good sign when a player finds ways to contribute even when not at their best. Nash has been a beast this year and is the absolute critical mass the Rangers need him to be.
Funny how things work out: Kevin Klein’s contract is starting to look very good value. In a league where a guy like Nikita Nikitn can get well over 4m on a multi-year deal, Klein’s steady improvement is making him a bargain. The sample size is small but Klein certainly has the talent to keep it up.
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The one thing we’ve come to expect of our hockey clubs in New York is consistency. With the New York Rangers, that consistency, at least in the opening few months of the season, is defined as consistently inconsistent. It’s a bit of a running joke, but it’s alarmingly true. Last night’s game was a prime example of how this club can play when they don’t play down to their competition. They did just that when they lose to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, and Colorado Avalanche, all pretty bad teams.
Sure, you can blame the injuries to the blue line, and no team has really suffered injuries to the extent the Rangers have, but all teams do deal with injuries. You can point to the Derek Stepan injury, which led to an even more massive hole at center than initially predicted –by us– at the beginning of the season. But the Rangers have an opportunity now to put that inconsistency behind them with a relatively easy schedule to close out the month. Of course, being consistently inconsistent, you never know.
On to the musings:
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Should the Rangers play Boyle tonight? Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America
Fresh off a dominant victory over the offensive juggernaut that are the Pens, things appear slightly rosier in Rangerland. Tonight, the Rangers have to cope with another offensively skilled team when the Avalanche comes to town. Let’s discuss the goings-on in Rangerland.
What to do with Duclair? I know I’m in the minority but I think I would send Duclair back to juniors. I would rather see him playing 20 minutes a night in Junior and dominating. Once the Rangers are back to full strength I think a guy like Jesper Fast would be better suited to a bottom six role and help the Rangers return to their identity of being a difficult team to play against.
I have Rick Nash in both my fantasy teams. I am very happy about this.
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Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
In case you missed it yesterday, the Rangers made a trio of roster moves in the late afternoon to address players returning to the lineup and an overall lack of defense and effort this past weekend. After previously being waived earlier in the month, Ryan Malone was sent to Hartford, effectively ending that reclamation project. Jesper Fast was called up to replace him. Conor Allen was also returned to Hartford, as John Moore is returning to the lineup.
Let’s start with Allen, as that’s the move that I questioned. There was nothing about Allen’s play that was bad, he was unspectacular, but didn’t appear out of place or lost by any stretch. He wasn’t going to keep Moore out of the lineup, but considering his relatively steady play, didn’t he deserve another game? It’s not like Matt Hunwick has a significantly better pedigree or even a significantly better performance on the ice.
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Almost identical to Pouliot, but no OZ penalties.
With last night’s win the New York Rangers are 6-4-2 after 12 games to start the season. The team has been shaky at best, but they have points in their last four games (2-0-2) and are 5-1-2 since back-to-back 6-3 blowout losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders (and the 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets the game before). Their goal differential is -4, which isn’t ideal, but that’s more a reflection of three straight losses by three goals.
The Rangers have managed to be 6-4-2 despite a myriad of injuries that has crippled the blue line. They haven’t dressed their original starting six since the opener in St. Louis. They played one game with just four defensemen, and played the next game with two of their original six starters in the lineup. Right now, they are in the middle of a stretch where they will only dress three of their starters.
Suffice it to say: This wasn’t a part of the offseason plan. But the Rangers have managed to do more than just tread water. They have points in seven of their last eight games.
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Dan Boyle should really help the PP when he returns. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America
There’s been quite a gap between the Rangers’ games this week, with the wild comeback against the Wild feeling like an eternity ago. Quite a bit has happened in Rangerland since so let’s take a look around at some of the goings on.
Veterans to the rescue
Derek Stepan and Dan Boyle resume skating. The Rangers cannot get these two players back fast enough. Stepan’s absence had destroyed team depth at center and the Rangers’ issues on defense have been well documented. With the Rangers powerplay needing help, Boyle and Stepan could be the perfect tonic to a unit that has been – at best – underwhelming to this point.
Is the Rangers goaltending pipeline improving?
The Rangers have tried to remedy the lack of depth behind Henrik Lundqvist recently and there’s a few intriguing prospects worth a keeping an eye on. Brandon Halverson typifies the modern goaltender, being a big man at 6’4, and he’s off to a strong start in junior winning 7 games in his first ten appearances although his peripherals (GAA 3.15, S% .904) aren’t exciting. Reports are he’s playing well though.
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