Archive for Musings
Happy New Year, folks! It’s finally 2017, which means that we will finally stop seeing an end to those ‘2016 is the worst ever’ memes, and if that’s not reason enough to smile, I don’t know what is.
Here at BSB, we believe in the power of the New Years resolution, a romantic concept that the best is yet to come. New Year, New Us. We’ll optimistically go over some things that we hope members of the Rangers and staff have made as a resolution.
Alain Vigneault: of many, many resolutions I hope for our fearless coach, let’s begin with holding true to your word. Many of us are waiting for your friend Dan Girardi to actually sit the second of a back to back, or even to just rest his 32-year-old warrior legs. Let the man take a break. Read More→
It’s been a bumpy few games for the Rangers. First they allowed touchdowns to Pittsburgh and Minnesota, then they needed to rely on two sloppy goals against a backup goalie on a mediocre team in order to right the ship. After a few weeks of strong defensive play, they regressed back to their old selves. It wasn’t pretty, and I have some thoughts.
1 – I’ve been harping on this for a while, but if it isn’t clear to you that the Rangers need an upgrade on defense, then please tell me why you disagree (politely). The effort against Ottawa was atrocious, and fast forwards will continue to burn the likes of Kevin Klein and Dan Girardi on a regular basis. It’s no coincidence that playoff teams like Pittsburgh can basically score at will against the Rangers. They need to get some mobile defensemen that can get sticks in lanes and force the rush to the outside.
Happy Festivus everyone! In true Festivus spirit, let us use today to air our grievances. There are many grievances us Rangers fans have with the team, the fans, the Garden, and the NHL. Or perhaps you just want to air your general life grievances, that’s cool too. After all, today is a day of grievance discussion. As for me – well I have a few.
Grievance #1 – Injuries
Seriously Rangers. Stop getting injured. It’s not funny anymore. Every time I watch a game, someone else gets hurt. Mika Zibanejad broke his leg. Rick Nash hurt his groin. Pavel Buchnevich was kidnapped by Putin. Rick Nash hurt his other groin. Enough is enough. Quit it.
Last night during the Rangers 2-0 win over the Dallas Stars, Henrik Lundqvist was absolutely decimated by an extremely dirty hit from Cody Eakin (see below). Lundqvist left the ice for league mandated concussion protocols, but returned approximately five minutes later to ultimately finish the game and the shutout.
There does not seem to be much doubt around the league that the hit was deplorable and Eakin is deserving of supplementary discipline. However, it has again spurned the discussion of the Rangers’ response to the hit and the role of goaltenders and their safety outside the sanctum of their crease. I’d like to talk about both of those things today.
– The Rangers are going to lose a good player to expansion, but I sure hope it’s not Jesper Fast. He may never score 20 goals, but Fast is exactly what you want in a modern day depth winger. Fast is ferocious in all aspects of the game. He’s aggressive on both the forecheck and backcheck, tenacious on the penalty kill and always gives his all in his own zone. Time and again Fast has been up to the task when he’s been moved up and down the lineup due to injury. Fast is just a selfless player that does all the little things right – he continues to remind me of Ryan Callahan. Alain Vigneault gets made fun of for it all the time, but it’s easy to see why he loves “Quickie.”
– Last night’s result was probably the best Vigneault could have hoped for regarding the Rangers goalie controversy. Antti Raanta finally lost, so Vigneault can justifiably turn back to Henrik Lundqvist on Thursday night without Raanta breathing down his neck. Yet Raanta still remains in a groove, so Vigneault can continue to mix him in regularly until Lundqvist settles back into his normal workload. Best of all, the Blueshirts once again played well in front of their netminder and seem to have rediscovered some good habits that should make things easier on The King.
There’s a lot going on in Rangerland lately. With injuries mounting, the Rangers have been forced to call up a pair of forwards from Hartford and have been forced to dress another pair of forwards that have been regular scratches. The goaltending hasn’t been Hank-like. The defense has been suspect, as expected. All that has come to the interwebs being an almost unbearable place to be for Ranger fans. So let’s have some fun.
- The Rangers have basically been forced to replace Rick Nash-Mika Zibanejad-Pavel Buchnevich with some combination of Matt Puempel (now injured himself), Marek Hrivik, Josh Jooris, Nicklas Jensen, and Oscar Lindberg. If you’re wondering why they aren’t scoring and aren’t getting any good chances, that’s probably your first place to look. Michael Grabner’s absence for personal reasons compounds the issue. Hot take: The Rangers aren’t tough enough, and that’s why they aren’t scoring.
- Henrik Lundqvist has not looked Hank-like this season. Some point to the defense hanging him out to dry and allowing him to be peppered with high quality chances regularly. Some point to the age of now 34-year-old goaltender as a sign of his decline. We’ve seen slow starts from Hank and seen that he rebounds. Could that change, and he doesn’t rebound to his usual self? Sure. But again, we’ve seen that after slow starts, he tends to rebound. Hot take: Trade him for pucks, free up cap space, let Antti Raanta be the started with Mackenzie Skapski backing him up.
– There’s a lot of consternation over Adam Clendening’s lack of playing time. Ideally, he’d be in the lineup in place of Kevin Klein, but generally we as fans make way too big a deal over the guy in the press box. Rarely does that roster decision make or break a team. The bigger issue on defense continues to be the distribution of minutes within the existing top six and the need to add a real difference maker.
– With many of the once available trade targets now re-signed, the one big name still on the horizon is Kevin Shattenkirk. Yes, Dougie Hamilton can also be had, but he’d cost the Rangers a player they won’t give up. If GM Jeff Gorton wasn’t willing to build a package worthwhile for the Jets or Ducks, then I don’t think he’s prepared to give up J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes or Chris Kreider for Hamilton. And given the way this team has been winning on the back of its offense, that’s probably the right call.
– But as there have been for months and years, there remain loud whispers that Shattenkirk is eyeing New York. It’s hard to see a path to his services during this campaign, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel come July. Read More→
People talk about the Rangers 5-2 come from behind win against the Pens as a statement game. For me, the biggest statement games were the significant Blues and Lightning victories a couple of weeks back – I feel they were more complete games even if the comeback against the Pens was very impressive. For me, the Rangers gave up far too many high quality chances against the Pens on Monday. It wasn’t a quality defensive performance.
Michael Grabner could go pointless for the rest of the season and he’d already represent good value. His goal against the Blue Jackets last week summed him up best. His speed gives teams fits, he’s up on the play so quickly and once he’s away you cannot catch him. The way he settled the puck and finished his breakaway underlined the confidence he’s playing with right now. It was a goalscorers finish.
Oh, and another thing: Michael Grabner, Cy Young winner?
For the first time all month, it actually feels like November outside. It’s crazy when you think about it, that we had a 60 degree afternoon yesterday followed promptly by 30 degrees and ice on the cars overnight. But does that officially make it hockey weather? I think so. So on this cold Sunday, here are a few things rattling around in my brain.
- Everyone is talking about how the Rangers are dominating scoring chances at even strength and just steamrolling opponents. But don’t forget about special teams. The Rangers had a bottom-feeder penalty kill last year. This year, they are 7th in the league. Their powerplay? Fifth in the league. Special teams drive victories too, and this is a huge improvement.
- Special teams improvement is just on the conversion level either. The Rangers are doing a far better job at generating shots on the powerplay and limiting shots on the penalty kill. If the above bullet represents execution on special teams, then this bullet represents process. With better process comes better execution. This is a huge part of the overall improvement we’ve seen on the ice.
Despite the tough loss on Tuesday night, the Rangers are playing very good hockey lately. These wins are different from last year, as goaltending isn’t the sole reason for the run of wins. They are demolishing most of their opponents with good on-ice process. It’s refreshing to see. After 11 games, I’ve noticed a few things.
- The defensive zone play is significantly improved. There are a few reasons for this, but they can all be summed up by one word: Execution. Alain Vigneault’s hybrid zone/man style of play is complicated, and the Rangers were unable to execute last year, with forwards missing assignments and defensemen chasing their man all the way to the blue line. This year, the defensemen are sticking their man until the dots then releasing, as they should. It leaves the forwards able to overload the boards properly to force turnovers and start the transition. It’s been wonderful to see this executed properly.