Category: Musings

Gameday musings: Rookies, playing time, holiday roster freeze

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

A lot has been made about the coach’s apparent decision to sit Dylan McIlrath tonight against the Penguins. I understand both sides of the argument. If the kid is up in the NHL, he should play. But the kid has some glaring holes in his game, and putting him up against the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Crosby’s isn’t exactly the best matchup for someone who has trouble skating. Then again, neither is Justin Falk.

My thought on this: If the kid isn’t going to play 8-10 minutes a night, then send him back to the AHL. AV is a fan of having kids sit in the press box to get a bird’s-eye view of the system he runs, but McIlrath has less than 100 pro games under his belt. He needs to develop the raw parts of his game in the AHL with top minutes. If he is going to play 8-10 minutes a night, then keep him here, because Falk sure isn’t getting the job done.

One more bit on McIlrath: He is far from NHL ready. I understand the need for a bruiser and a right-handed shot, but the kid has a few glaring holes that need to be fixed by Jeff Beukeboom in Hartford. The kid has made tremendous strides this year after a gruesome knee injury ruined last season. I’m big on this kid, but rushing him to fit a need doesn’t help in the long-term.

Read more »

Some heart, some effort, some results

Courtesy of ExtraSkater

Courtesy of ExtraSkater

It is not a secret that I was unable to watch last night’s game. I am traveling for work, and the place I am visiting does not carry Rangers hockey. However I was able to watch the highlights and read Twitter, so I got a general feel of how the game went. Combined with the Fenwick chart above, I can make some educated guesses about how the game went.

Even though this team came out strong against a bad team on the second of back-to-backs, they had two bad defensive zone  breakdowns that led to a 2-0 deficit. They got one back, but the puck possession battle was indicative of what we have seen in the past: A team that has no fight and will lose once giving up the first goal. But that’s why hockey is a 60 minute game.

Read more »

Free agency is still months away, but the Rangers will have some tough decisions to make

Ryan Callahan’s injury woes are concerning, but New York will still likely do everything it can to keep its captain

Quick note: Dave was at the game last night, so the goal breakdown will be done for the afternoon post.

The Rangers’ season is quickly spiraling out of control and it’s probably a matter of time before GM Glen Sather steps in and makes a major shakeup.  But with so many pending free agents and so many players underperforming, it’s a certainty that the 2014-2015 version of the Blueshirts will look drastically different than the edition that stunk up the joint last night against Nashville.  So let’s take a look at New York’s upcoming free agents and see who might still be around next year, and who could be gone.

Ryan Callahan - Yet another injury has clouded this situation.  A few months ago it would have been unthinkable to imagine life without Callahan, but his health is becoming increasingly concerning.  New York’s doctors will have to evaluate Callahan’s physical condition, but assuming he’s in one piece, I still expect the Rangers to do everything they can to lock up their captain long-term.  Some of the beat writers think Callahan would be very tempted to join the Sabres next summer to move closer to home, but though I’m sure Callahan loves Rochester, New York City isn’t all that far away and I can’t imagine Callahan joining a rebuilding team.  If things really fall apart for the Blueshirts and there’s not much progress in negotiations, I could see Callahan being tempted by a contender.  But it’s still most likely the Rangers will retain their captain, albeit at a very steep price.  Remember, the Rangers paid RFAs Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle and Michael Sauer over Callahan in 2011 and gave him a lesser deal due to the resulting cap crunch.  No. 24 swallowed that bitter pill then, but it’s unlikely New York will be getting a hometown discount this time around.

Read more »

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Brassard needs to show more, if he's to remain a Ranger

Brassard needs to show more, if he’s to remain a Ranger

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you all have a great day and weekend. In the mean time, a couple thoughts on the Rangers as they head in to the weekend and toward a big double header.

Offensive Alternative?

If Taylor Pyatt continues to struggle once he’s back up to speed and Benoit Pouliot continues to be consistently inconsistent when does Alain Vigneault look for alternatives to help his frustrating offense? Wednesday night saw Danny Kristo add another goal to his tally in the AHL.

With 10 goals in 19 games for the WolfPack Kristo is on pace to flirt with 40 goals in his rookie year as a pro. While showing patience with Kristo is possibly the right course of action, if the Rangers continue to underwhelm offensively he’s surely worth taking a look at sooner rather than later.

Crossroads

Alain Vigneault has said that Pouliot is at a career crossroads. Well, could Derick Brassard also be at a crossroad? While Pouliot may have his entire NHL career under scrutiny, Brassard has been far too inconsistent thus far to warrant being retained at his current salary beyond this year (and certainly isn’t in line for a raise).

Brassard’s status as a promising talent is under threat. While Brassard would definitely find a home somewhere should the Rangers cut the cord, Brassard needs to find some consistency to justify the Rangers retaining him beyond this season. Very talented, very frustrating.

Read more »

Thoughts following last night’s win in Dallas

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

I know you just had the musings yesterday, but I have a bunch of thoughts I want to share that aren’t worth a full post.  Deal with it.  Here’s some thoughts following the Rangers 3-2 win in Dallas last night…

  • Is there really anywhere to start but with Hank?  The King was absolutely out of his mind last night.  Watching the game, there were several times I found myself gasping at his awesomeness.  Dare I say he out Tuukka’d Tuukka’s performance from the other night.  Hank’s positioning was spot on, he tracked the puck exceedingly well, and he hung with very tough second and third chances.  He was an absolute wall.
  • Man, it’s nice to have Rick Nash back.  I absolutely love watching the guy play.  His size, speed, and fluidity are all sorely missed when he’s out of the lineup.  He has this way of just mesmerizing opposing D-men as he nonchalantly glides into the zone.  I can totally understand why sometimes his teammates just stand around and watch him. Read more »

Musings: Girardi’s struggles, scoring woes, trade targets

Photo: McIsaac/Getty

Photo: McIsaac/Getty

It’s been a while since I’ve written the musings, so I’m taking the opportunity to do that today. Have to admit, they are some of my favorite posts to write.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve noticed that I’ve been pretty hard on Dan Girardi lately. He’s certainly had a lot of trouble adjusting this season. It is probably just a bad year for the defenseman, or at least a bad quarter season. These things happen, but there were signs this could happen before. One of the big thing is that Girardi constantly leaves his feet to play defense, instead of taking the angle and using his body to create better positioning. That’s something that needs to be fixed. He hasn’t lost a step, but the best forwards –forwards he plays against night in and night out– have caught on to this.

Girardi isn’t the only one who is struggling either. Michael Del Zotto is struggling. John Moore has had issues. Justin Falk is showing why he came a bit on the cheaper end on the trade market. If not for Anton Stralman, Marc Staal, and Ryan McDonagh, this team would have a lot of questions on the blue line.

Read more »

Musings: Are the Rangers prospects underrated?

Quietly having a strong season: Brian Boyle

Quietly having a strong season: Brian Boyle

A strong, prolonged period of results was slightly tarnished with the sloppy, unnecessary loss to the Devils earlier this week. Sloppy goals, defensive lapses and a lack of finish had many reminding us of the early season edition of the Rangers. With games against the Canadiens and Kings on the weekend it’s a big couple of days for the Rangers. On to the musings

Generally speaking, the Rangers have played well in recent games and this has highlighted the contributions from the youth on the roster such as Chris Kreider. With the Wolf Packing doing pretty well too, it makes the Rangers prospect ranking of 27th on Hockey’s Future (if you buy into that kind of thing) pretty farcical.

Danny Kristo, JT Miller, Jesper Fast, Kreider (still not classed as ‘graduated’), Dylan McIlrath, Oscar Lindberg and ‘Boo’ Nieves highlight a pretty talented pool if you ask me. There’s a ton of NHL upside in the Rangers system and the best part is none of it needs to be rushed. The only area of real concern (in my humble opinion) is in goal.

Read more »

Derek Dorsett’s quest to become Brandon Prust 2.0

It’s not fair that Derek Dorsett will always be compared with Brandon Prust, but he’s done a pretty good impersonation

That’s not really a fair title to Derek Dorsett, who could surely care less what Brandon Prust did in New York before Dorsett’s arrival.  But fair or not, “Brandon Prust 2.0″ is how Dorsett was billed when he arrived in the Marian Gaborik blockbuster last spring, so Prust is the player Dorsett will forever be compared to in the eyes of Rangers fans.

Prust’s game has changed a bit over the last two seasons due to injuries, but at his best with the Rangers he was relentless on the forecheck, a willing combatant, a reliable penalty killer and one of New York’s most important energy guys.

Dorsett has settled in nicely this year and has filled an almost identical role.  Like Prust, Dorsett has been a terrific forechecker, a dependable penalty killer, and a trusted player in his own end (just 38% of his shifts have started in the attack zone).  And if fighting is your thing, you’ll be pleased to know that Dorsett has five majors this season, second in the league.  Perhaps the greatest difference between the two is in the energy jolt they deliver to the lineup.  This is an extremely subjective observation, but it seems that even though Dorsett goes all out every night, he hasn’t yet displayed the same penchant for shaking his team awake that Prust once did.

Read more »

Mailbag: Puck possession, Stepan, scoring depth, and Dorsett

Source: Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

Source: Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

Received a few good questions via email and Twitter over the past couple of days:

Q: You spend a lot of time talking about puck possession, mostly in a post saying the Rangers are heading in the right direction. How can you use puck possession to measure how they will perform?

This is a bit of a loaded question, so let’s address a few points. The reason why we use puck possession (Corsi, Fenwick) over SOG here is because SOG only counts saves and goals. But not all shots get through or hit the net. Posts don’t count as shots. The theory is that the more time you spend directing the puck at the net, the better your odds are of scoring, and the less your opponent has the puck. Puck possession means nothing if you can’t score, but shooting percentage is almost impossible to predict, aside from regression to the mean. If the Rangers are controlling play, they will get the puck in the net.

Q: Did Saturday night’s game show that Derek Stepan finally broke out?

Read more »

Musings: Has the tide turned for the Rangers?

Brad Richards has looked  strong all season.

Brad Richards has looked strong all season.

The Rangers faced a ton of adversity, a fierce rival with a new star acquisition and the pressure of facing up to back to back defeats and yet, they found a way to win. Do not underestimate how much the victory on the Island could mean to the season as a whole. Musings time!

It’s amazing how perceptions can change after one good win.

So many players’ games have improved over the past three games. All of a sudden a previously invisible Mats Zuccarello looks relevant, energetic and back to being difficult to play against. Benoit Pouliot looks like he can play too.

Speaking of Pouliot; against the Isles he showed why he was a promising pick up. The dude has serious skill and can finish. It’s a huge season for him as if he can get some traction and find consistency he may finally stick with a team. He has to be much more consistent though.

Read more »