Archive for Musings
The Rangers and Caps have an unusual two-day break between games six and seven, so today is an off day for both teams, their second in a row. The Rangers have come roaring back in this series, tying it at three games a piece after being down 3-1. While the Rangers never truly looked out of the series or dominated in any game, the Caps were on their way to being that dominated team on Sunday night. That was until a dominant third period, where they didn’t allow a shot attempt by the Rangers in the final 15 minutes.
With an extra day off, the news will be slow. So why not do a brain dump?
- Ryan McDonagh was banged up by Alex Ovechkin, and Tim Gleason appeared to be hurt as well. This gives them both an extra day to heal. This helps the Rangers more than it does the Caps. Nate Schmidt was called up by the Caps just in case Gleason can’t go, but many want Schmidt to play over Gleason anyway.
- The extra day favors the Rangers on the injury front, but not on the goaltender rest front. Braden Holtby looked a little tired in Game Six. Suit noted in the comments of the goal breakdown that he was dropping early, a sign of fatigue. The extra day helps him.
– I thought Monday was among Rick Nash’s best games of the year, and by far his best of the playoffs. Nash has been far better this postseason compared to last, but he’s still not finishing. That doesn’t make Nash a bad player, but it also means New York is going to have a tough time winning.
– Braden Holtby has been dominant. And yeah, the Rangers didn’t get nearly enough traffic in front of him early in Game 3, but Holtby has been in hero mode for the whole postseason. While goaltending issues have arisen for several other supposed contenders, Holtby has climbed close to the top of the list when you think about the league’s best netminders.
– I still think The Ghost of Marty St. Louis has one signature moment left, but he’s really fighting it. He’s a far cry from Mats Zuccarello on the top line, but luckily young bucks like Jesper Fast have been picking up some of the slack.
– Zuccarello’s absence has been evident from the opening puck drop of the series. The Blueshirts are an extremely deep team and could withstand most injuries, but Zuccarello is about as irreplaceable as it gets.
– Alex Ovechkin is terrifying. He didn’t even register a point on Monday night and his fingerprints were all over the game. The saying “you have to know where he is on every shift” is cliche and overused, but it absolutely applies to The Great 8 right now. This might be the best he’s ever played.
– One of the big knocks on the Capitals has been their lack of solid depth players behind Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, but it’s hard to understand when you see the contributions guys like Joel Ward, Jason Chimera and Jay Beagle make. Adding Evgeny Kuznetsov to the mix has been absolutely huge for Washington, too.
– Let’s not forget about Eric Fehr, who is still expected to return in this series. Fehr isn’t nearly as important to Washington as Zuccarello is to the Rangers, but he’s a solid secondary scorer that will only extend the Capitals’ lineup.
– I wrote about it last week, but the way the Caps play now is so reminiscent of John Tortorella’s Rangers. They keep you to the outside, block shots, play physical, outhustle you and have the star goaltender to hold it all together. The 2-1 deficit here isn’t because the Blueshirts are doing much wrong, it’s because Washington is a very, very good team.
– I thought this would go seven, and I still do.
Here we are. It’s Friday and the Rangers are heading home one win away from dispensing with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round. Naturally, I have thoughts…
- I didn’t get home Wednesday night until the first intermission. Although I had it on the DVR, Twitter was kind enough to let me know I hadn’t missed anything.
- Marc-Andre Fleury has been surprisingly good so far in this series. I know The Suit is not a fan, but you have to give credit where credit is due. His angles have been sharp, his movements have been controlled (for the most part) and he really hasn’t given away anything to New York.
- In that same vein, Henrik Lundqvist has been even better. With the Pens being forced to come 200 feet all series, since, you know, none of their defenseman can move the puck, Hank hasn’t had to do a ton. When he has been called upon, though, he has shown no rust from his nearly two month layoff. Hopefully the rest helps him as the playoffs march on.
It’s that horrible day, the one between games but the Rangers are heading into Friday with a 3-1 series lead. Life can’t get much sweeter as a Rangers fan right now. Let’s throw up a few random thoughts on Rangers goings on.
It appears Rick Nash will always divide opinion. Has Nash been dominant? No he hasn’t but he’s been damn good. Not just putting points up but always involved in the offense, Nash also continues to be one of the most defensively responsible ‘superstars’ in the game. Give me that kind of team first goal scorer any day. Star players on successful teams buy into a team first approach. The Red Wings of recent years always had superstars who could play a good two way game. That’s why they are always a contender. That’s what the Rangers have in Nash.
Understatement of the week: Derick Brassard’s new contract continues to look like a bargain. He has 21 points in 21 games against the Penguins. He has three goals in 4 playoff games. Brassard’s maturation into a quality, consistent center is complete. His enthusiasm for goals is infectious. Kudos to Glen Sather for taking a calculated risk by committing to Brassard for the long term.
Well I’m back. I was in Charleston, taking my lovely girlfriend for a long weekend for her 30th birthday. She will probably write about it on www.honkytonkfit.com soon, so if you are curious, keep checking that out.
Anyway I couldn’t watch most of the first three games of the series. I caught the third period of Game One from a local bar, which was the only part of this series I saw. I missed all of Game Two, despite being back in time to watch, because the hotel we stayed at had NBCSN, but not NBC (or any of the other flagship stations). I thought that was weird. For last night’s game, I was in the airport or on a delayed flight. Such is life.
I was able to read Twitter timelines, and I put together some general conclusions from the games:
Playoff hockey begins (for real) today. Forget about Wednesday, we’re all waiting for today and the Pens vs. Rangers series opener. Let’s have a muse to kick the playoffs off shall we?
Is it me or have an unusually high amount of teams got serious injury headaches this spring? The Rangers can consider themselves relatively lucky that they will enter the Pens series ‘only’ missing Kevin Klein. You look at an offensively shallow Montreal Canadiens squad missing their top scorer (Pacioretty) or the Penguins who are practically missing an entire D. The Rangers enter the playoffs healthy and that’s a huge bonus.
Player I’m rooting for: Martin St Louis. Has had a lot of criticism this year (some of it deservedly). He could be a huge difference maker for the Rangers.
Last night the Rangers lost to the Ottawa Senators in the first meaningless game they have played in a long time. I didn’t watch a single minute. I was taking full advantage of the luxury of not having to worry about how the Rangers did and just simply enjoyed that absolutely sensational hockey being played around the league.
I was mainly focused on the Bruins-Panthers matchup, Detroit-Montreal, and of course, LA versus Calgary. With so much congestion in the bottom part of the conferences, eliminated teams playing spoiler and seed shuffling taking place all the way to the last day of the season, it’s a good time to be a hockey fan. Read More→
Good morning, BSB faithful. I scrapped my whole intro because it was terrible and I haven’t had enough caffeine, yet. So, here are some Ranger-related thoughts to kick off your Friday…
- The whole “goalie controversy” thing is already getting old. Dave touched on it already, so I don’t have much too much to add. Basically, no one is saying that Cam Talbot is not a good goalie. I’m also not even saying conclusively that he won’t bring as much value over the next 6+ year as Hank will, considering their difference in age. While Talbot has played great, he has still played in less than 100 NHL games, and less than 30 as a “starter”. Passing over a Hall of Fame goaltender right in the middle of a competitive window for Talbot is not the move here, no matter how well he is playing.
- Martin St. Louis’ injury really wrecks the flow of the roster. With the Nash/Brassard/Zuccarello line and the Hagelin/Hayes/Miller line developing solid chemistry and a consistent scoring threat, it’s a shame to have to break one of those up. Get well soon, Marty. You haven’t played up to your usual standards, but your bring depth and balance.
- I would obviously prefer that the Rangers call up Oscar Lindberg to play on the fourth line and move either Dominic Moore or James Sheppard up to the third line, but I know it’s a pipe dream with Tanner Glass on the roster.
The Rangers are in a scoring funk. It’s probably is a mere statistical regression and no long term concern but it’s certainly noteworthy. On the back of a shutout loss to the Blackhawks Wednesday there’s plenty to talk about. So let us muse.
How ridiculous is it to begin this post with a complaint? The Rangers have a ridiculously good record, have been almost impossibly consistent in harvesting points, so a tight loss to fellow contender isn’t a huge issue but this team does need a kick start offensively.
Apparently Henrik Lundqvist will be rusty when he returns? He’s recognized as being a slow starter in recent seasons but I’m not concerned about his readiness. While there’s no replacement for game time he’s been on the ice and his focus will surely be where it needs to be midseason.
I really feel for JT Miller. He’s working hard and getting chances but like the top six, he’s snakebitten.
Who else wants to bask in the glory of the Rangers ripping off a bunch of wins against the league’s best? For once, the Rangers aren’t playing and as it’s Thursday let’s muse.
Kevin Hayes – rookie beast extraordinaire. Hayes has literally grown up right in front of our eyes. His patience on the puck is remarkable for a rookie; his strength on the puck undeniable and his decision making has improved immeasurably.
What’s not discussed much is the impact of the college ‘rookie wall’. Hayes has surely (barring a sudden, out of nowhere loss of form) put to bed this theory for the time being. He is literally playing his best hockey as a pro right now and is seemingly getting better every game.
At times, Hayes’ line with Hagelin and Miller has actually carried the Rangers in recent weeks and given that this is a Cup contending roster that’s one hell of a compliment. With a bit of luck Hayes could reach 40 points in his rookie year and given that he’s played out of his natural position, on a depth line, that’s very impressive.