Category: Musings

Mailbag: Game 4 importance; Brad Richards buyout; salary cap; CBJ/Pitt

Had three questions arrive via Twitter over the past few days, and since I had absolutely no idea what to write about, I figured I’d answer them in a post. Then I posted that I had no idea what to write about for this morning, and a few more questions came in. So….thank you guys for helping me with this one. Much appreciated.

Should still be bought out. (Photo: Rangers)

Should still be bought out. (Photo: Rangers)

Q: Should the Rangers still use their last amnesty buyout on Brad Richards, even if he is productive and helps them win a Cup (in a hypothetical situation)?

The answer here, without any hesitation, is yes. The problem with Richards isn’t his production (at the moment…but it’s declining). It isn’t his cap hit. Heck, it isn’t even his spot in the lineup. It’s the fact that his contract back-dives, and if he retires early then the Rangers are on the hook with one helluva penalty. For each year he retires early (contract is up in 2020), the Rangers will be hit with $5.6 million in dead cap space. Throw in his declining production, puck possession, and foot speed, and the Rangers will either be stuck with dead cap space or a $6.6 million healthy scratch in the next 2-3 years. It’s just not worth it.

Q: How important is Game Four, and to come home with a 3-1 series lead?

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Thoughts following Game 1

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

• I’ll admit, it was really disappointing to see the Flyers strike first after such a dominant chance/possession showing in the first period by the Rangers. Hartnell’s hit on McDonagh that directly lead to McDonald’s goal was the stuff nightmares are made of. Fortunately, the Flyers abandoned the hard, forechecking physicality in favor of stupid stick penalties.

• Philly looked to have a bit of whiplash from the Rangers’ three scoring lines. Clearly, their priority pre-game was to shut down the St. Louis-Stepan-Nash line, but every time they turned their attention there, they got burned by Zuccarello or Richards or Hagelin.

• The first two periods were something of a microcosm of the Rangers season: tantalizing chances, high possession and yet no goals. Ray Emery made some half-decent saves, but it would have been really nice to be up 3-1 in the first or second.

• There really wasn’t a weak link the lineup last night. I thought all three defensive pairs acquitted themselves well, and the forward lines looked balanced and moved the puck exceedingly well. Read more »

The Musings: A rivalry renewed

RMcD = MVP?  Photo Credit: LoHud

RMcD = MVP? Photo Credit: LoHud

Today is the day a rivalry gets renewed. The Rangers entertain the Flyers tonight in a much anticipated series. Let’s throw a few musings up.

The series against the Flyers represents a no-win situation for the Rangers. In all honesty, there is not a huge amount separating the two teams but yet everyone expects the Rangers to win. The Flyers have a ton of talent but are very flawed. That said, it wouldn’t be the greatest of shocks if they beat the Rangers but it would cause serious fall-out in New York.

Is there a single Ranger forward you wouldn’t swap for Claude Giroux?

Beyond the obvious (Hank, McD, Nash), who holds they key to the second round for the Rangers? Mats Zuccarello. He has been the Rangers best powerplay forward all year and you have to assume the Flyers will take more penalties than the Rangers. If the Rangers can stay out of the box and Zuccarello can work some PP magic that may be the decisive factor.

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End of the Regular Season Musings/Awards

John is angry

As we’ve hit the final day of the regular season, it’s time to look back and think about surprise teams, great plays and big news from around the league.  As our boys in blue look ahead to opening up the playoffs against Philly Thursday night, several teams around the league are getting their golf equipment ready and leaving hockey for the summer.  Of those teams are nearly all of the Canadian teams (except for Montreal) and a bevy of shocked fanbases. Ahead is a season reflective musings for this sunny Sunday on the East Coast.

Worst Display by a Fanbase: The Edmonton Oilers had an absolutely abysmal season, finishing with just 67 points after acquiring a new head coach (Dallas Eakins) and a new captain (Andrew Ference) in the offseason.  In an effort to show their displeasure with the team, a fan decided to throw their sweater on the ice. Twice. Goalie Ben Scrivens voiced how disrespectful that is, which it is, as it shows a lack of appreciation for all of those years that the teams before the 2014 squad had won. Scary thought: the Oilers wouldn’t even be the worst team if they played in the East. Scarier thought: when their talent clicks and they start to do well. I wish I was tech-savvy and could embed the video, instead, watch it here.

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The Musings: Can the Rangers contend long term?

Long term contention? Photo: Brad Penner, USA Today

Long term contention? Photo: Brad Penner, USA Today

The Rangers entertain the hapless Sabres tonight. A team with hopes of a deep playoff run should be winning tonight with ease so with that jinx behind us, let’s throw up a few Ranger based thoughts.

Let’s briefly address the ‘win now’ theory. Henrik Lundqvist is 32 and has a shiny new seven year deal. He hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down and with several examples of goalies playing to an elite level deep into their 30’s, there’s no reason to think Lundqvist can’t do the same.

The defense has a strong under-contract core (Staal, Girardi, McDonagh and Klein) of which none are the wrong side of thirty. The forward corps (Nash and St Louis not considered) could feature six players in the top nine who have contributed to the Rangers this year (as presently constructed) that are all 26 or under and of which none have maxed out their potential – think Kreider, Hagelin, Stepan, Zuccarello, Brassard and JT Miller.

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Musings: The Rangers have contract headaches looming

Little man get paid big?

Little man get paid big?

Yes, I know Dave gave you a Musings this morning. Whatever. You’re being spoiled today with two. As the Rangers close in on a playoff spot, form, health and special teams become so incredibly important at this time of the year. With the Avalanche on tap this evening, let’s have a muse for the second time today.

It’s nice to see the Captain (the real captain) holds no apparent bitterness toward the Rangers following his coaching snub last summer. Mark Messier says the Rangers have a chance at the Cup and, if they avoid the Bruins, there’s no reason to think they can’t go far if health and form holds up.

That said, the Rangers cannot go far in the post season without a better powerplay and consistency from Nash, St Louis, Richards – in that order. The defense will keep this team in games, Henrik Lundqvist will steal games but the offense needs to spot the King a lead or two. Stating the obvious?

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Random thoughts as the playoffs approach

Photo: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Photo: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

As the playoffs approach, the Rangers have been one of the hotter teams of late, winning eight of ten games to solidify their spot in the playoffs. With five games remaining, their magic number to clinch a spot is three, while the magic number to clinch a non-wild card spot is down to seven. It seems almost a guarantee that the Rangers will make the playoffs.

The Rangers will go as far as Henrik Lundqvist takes them. They have the best goaltending in the Eastern Conference, and a hot Hank will spell doom for most of the opposition. Hank has shown he can steal a playoff series, mainly against Washington, and will likely need to do so at least once this year. The best part is that –Calgary clunker aside– Hank is playing some of his better hockey of late. When the All-World caliber goalie is starting to get hot, it’s a good sign.

As important as Hank is, injuries will play a significant role again. The Rangers are already having trouble replacing Chris Kreider in the lineup, with Dan Carcillo getting top-six minutes. J.T. Miller isn’t ready for The Show yet, and there aren’t many options in Hartford that appear ready. If Ryan McDonagh is out for an extended period of time, that means Justin Falk is getting 10-12 minutes a game. The injury depth isn’t there.

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Thoughts heading to Calgary

www.timesunion.com

As often happens, my esteemed colleagues here at Blue Seat Blogs have comprehensively covered the vast majority of the pressing Rangers issues of the day, so I’m going to meander through some various thoughts as we approach tonight’s matchup with Calgary.

  • Tonight’s game has trap written all over it.  The Flames are terrible and the Rangers have won five in a row.  With a playoff spot looking more and more secure, it’s my biggest concern that these easy points could slip away as the team looks ahead.
  • With that said, this is a quality test for AV and the team’s leadership to keep the squad focused on the task at hand.  Home ice in the first round is still attainable, and they just need to look no further than the LA Kings of 2012 to see what a massive hot streak entering the playoffs can do for a team’s Cup aspirations. Read more »

The Musings: Are the Rangers peaking at the right time?

The. Best. Goalie. In. The. World.  (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

The. Best. Goalie. In. The. World. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

The Rangers are riding a strong run of form, have a goalie close to his peak and beat the Flyers with relative ease Wednesday night. With so many positives let’s muse.

They wouldn’t be the Philadelphia Flyers if they wouldn’t look to start something at the end of a game in which they’re losing, would they? Completely classless franchise.

I had a discussion with some friends today; are the Flyers the least classy organisation in sport?

McDonagh I: I’ve been banging the Ryan McDonagh drum for weeks now. He’s a bonafide elite, Norris worthy defenseman. He’s taken the next step that Marc Staal has always been close to taking but for various reasons (usually injury) hasn’t quite made. This year McDonagh went from being a quality two way defenseman to being a dominant linchpin of a quality defensive unit.

McDonagh II: Jaromir Jagr is perhaps the single greatest trade/acquisition in the Glen Sather era. Or is he? Has the McDonagh trade taken over Jagr as being the best move of the Sather reign? The trade with Montreal allowed so many dominoes to fall in place and that’s without factoring in the top 10 NHL defenseman he has become.

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Players policing the ice

Muscle for the 2013-14 Rangers

During Friday night’s melee against the Blue Rangers Jackets, we certainly saw something we weren’t used to seeing since the departure of our captain at the very latest; we saw heart and a team playing with passion. We also saw an instance of a hard, borderline hit which rocked one of our players so hard he hasn’t played since with a questionable timetable to return.  Though I feel I can speak for everyone in saying we never want to see this, what we saw afterwards was refreshing.

The passion came about with a fight – a quick 30 second dance – between a seasoned fighter and a guy who’s got 5 prior career NHL fights. Benoit Pouliot made his best effort to avenge an apparent concussion on John Moore, holding his own and pinning down Derek MacKenzie. For me, an unashamed Pouliot fan, this was exactly what I love to see: a guy unafraid to potentially get his butt handed to him in an effort to let the other team know they can’t mess with our guys. But is that really the right way?

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