Archive for Musings

It’s hard to believe that we’re nearly at the halfway point of the 2017-18 NHL season.  As I type this, the Vegas Golden Knights are sitting alone at the top of the Western Conference, with 50 points from 35 games played.  The New Jersey Devils can’t stop winning (yuck), the LA Kings are back, and the Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres appear to be locked in a battle for the #1 pick in next year’s draft.  It’s been a strange year so far, to say the least.

The same holds true for our beloved Rangers.  Panic set in quickly in October, the ship was steadied somewhat in November, and December has been largely mediocre, but could have been much worse if not for guys named Lundqvist and Pavelec.  Here, in no particular order, are some thoughts on the Rangers, and the NHL as a whole.

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Post-Christmas Rangers Wish List

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I hope everyone had a good holiday yesterday. It’s been a rough go of it late for us Ranger fans, as we’ve been watching the Blueshirts get shelled every night. We are at a point where Henrik Lundqvist might just go back to Sweden and say, “screw it.”

We all have our wish lists for this team. I figure I would go through mine, even if it is a little late. I hear Santa likes to deliver some tardy Christmas gifts if you ask nicely.

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rick nash kevin hayes

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Over the weekend, news broke that the salary cap for next season might hit as high as $82 million, with a low of $78 million. This is mostly due to the success in Vegas, which no one is sure is sustainable, but for now impacts the salary cap in a positive manner.

For the Rangers, their offseason look is interesting. They have a bunch of key RFAs they will need to re-sign (Miller, Hayes, Vesey, Nieves, Skjei). Vesey and Nieves likely won’t command more than $3 million combined, but the trio of Miller, Hayes, and Skjei could get pricey fast.

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Thoughts before the Caps game tonight

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NY Daily News

It’s been a bit of a slow week in Rangerland.  Credit only having two games since I last posted, I suppose.  The Blueshirts take on the Caps tonight, in the wake of Barry Trotz’ completely unnecessary criticism of Kevin Shattenkirk; the Rangers should have some motivation to make him eat his words.  In any event, I have some thoughts…

1. The Rangers have gone 7-3-0 in their past ten games and they are still sixth (!) in the Metro.  It just goes to show what a meat grinder this division is.  The five teams ahead of them are separated by a single point. A single point. At least the Rangers have games in hand on everyone but the Devils, who are still inexplicably sitting atop the pile.  The Rangers also have the second-best goal differential in the division, so hopefully regression will hit some of those other clubs a bit harder in the coming weeks.

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Some quick Friday thoughts

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(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Happy Friday, BSB faithful!  Through more or less the quarter season mark, it has been the tale of two campaigns for the Rangers thus far: the tire fire first twelve games, which saw the Blueshirts go 3-7-2 and the much improved last seven games, when they went 6-1-0.  The Rangers have jumped back into the playoff picture with the win streak, so naturally, I have some thoughts…

1. As Dave has mentioned several times, the need for another center (or forward depth in general) just isn’t going away.  Mika Zibanejad has been a revelation and Kevin Hayes has been a much more effective 2C than I would have imagined.  However, for this team to actually contend, they need to be able to create matchup headaches lower in the lineup. Read More→

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The Rangers have pulled themselves together for a lengthy win streak, currently at six games as they enjoy a few days off for needed rest. From an abysmal start, the past two weeks have proven to be just what the doctor ordered in getting the Rangers back in the thick of things.

The Rangers’ play has become much more cohesive, and fans in general should be excited about this progress. The standings have progressed nicely, as shown below (far right column indicates points on the first column, indicating standings as of November 1):

This week the Rangers will be on the road for two games, something unusual for the team who has only seen five away games in 18 this season. Let’s take a look at what they’ll be facing.

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Some Friday afternoon thoughts

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jimmy vesey

AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes

The Rangers are in the midst of a five game winning streak, and have stormed back to relevancy. It’s nice to see after that horrid start. Naturally, I have some thoughts.

1. It’s very nice to see some sense of urgency from this team. There are certainly issues, most out of the hands of the guys suiting up every night, but it’s good to see they sensed that their season might be over if they don’t get their collective acts together. I am still of the belief that a true 2C makes this team a legitimate Cup contender, but that is based on a few assumptions.

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So what now?

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jeff gorton

The dust has settled a little bit on this past week, which started with a lot of smoke and rumors about AV potentially being fired, the Rangers making a big trade, or both. None of this has transpired – in fact the Rangers put together an exciting comeback against the red hot Vegas Golden Knights and managed to stymie the NHL’s most dynamic scoring duo, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, while pulling off an OT win in Tampa Bay. They go for their third straight win against the Florida Panthers tonight in South Florida, which if they manage it will have the team looking not so bad at all. So this raises the question – what now?

Well let’s start with the win against Vegas. Sure the Rangers managed to put their foot on the gas pedal towards the end of the game, scoring some nice goals to change what seemed like a foregone conclusion of a loss. This win in particular was significant, as Larry Brooks’ column about AV being on the hot seat had just come out the day before. The conventional wisdom was that if the Rangers lost against Vegas, AV would be fired. So much for that.

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There’s no other way to put it: the Rangers are off to a terrible start this season.  But one month does not a season make.  Despite an overarching feeling of doom and gloom, the Rangers managed to stay within the magic number of 3 points of the last playoff spot when October ended.  There are still 69 (nice) games to go, and the task at hand for the Rangers is to have a good November to get themselves properly into the playoff picture.

Of course, there are more reasons for concern than hope.  Two days ago, Alain Vigneault was said to be coaching for his job.  Does that change going into tonight’s game against a good Tampa Bay team, just because the Rangers beat Vegas on Tuesday?  What about the highly public appearance of the Rangers’ top brass at the Montreal vs. Ottawa game earlier in the week?  Clearly, this is not a settled situation, and one wonders how this is all affecting the performance of the team in each game.

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Some Saturday Morning Thoughts

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ondrej pavelec

It’s Saturday morning folks, and the Rangers are almost done with their 10 home games in October. This weekend we have the Montreal Canadiens in Montreal, followed by the Vegas Golden Knights at home on Halloween, and then we return to a semi-normal schedule of mixed home and away games. Given what a long strange trip it’s been, I figured some Saturday morning quick hits were in order to kind of sum up what’s been going on both of late and over these past ten games or so.

  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t respond to the notion that the Rangers’ hot hand is currently Ondrej Pavelec. Pavelec has been just fine, and what we’ve seen from him so far is likely what we’ll be getting from him throughout the season, but let’s not overstate things. He played an ok game against an awful team – it wasn’t even a shutout! If AV is serious about reducing Hank’s workload then fine, but if he’s playing Pavelec because he gives them the best chance to win, well, he doesn’t.

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