Archive for Musings

Mar
24

Some late March thoughts

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After a semi-frustrating loss to the Islanders on Wednesday, the Rangers now have eight games left in the regular season. They have a 12-point lead in their spot for the first wild card and a 14-point lead for the second wild card. At this juncture, it’s pretty clear they are going to be playing the winner of the Atlantic Division, the only question is whether Montreal will be able to hold on or if Ottawa will overtake their current three point lead. At this weird spot in the season, I have some thoughts… Read More→

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igor shestyorkin

Received a couple of questions this week for the mailbag. So let’s have at it. Don’t forget to use the mailbag feature on the right side to submit any questions.

BrooklynVic asks (short version): When can we bring Igor Shestyorkin over? With Henrik Lundqvist getting up there in age and Antti Raanta’s uncertain future, the Rangers could use him.

First things first, Shestyorkin is the heir apparent to Hank. He’s been lights out in the KHL at just 20 years old. Of all the goaltending prospects the Rangers have, and they have a bunch, he is the best.

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Brendan Smith looks like a keeper on defense (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

– Both Dave and the guys at Blueshirt Banter started beating the drum last week – but they’re absolutely right that Brady Skjei deserves more attention. Skjei has gotten lost in the shuffle because of the ridonkulous rookie class, but he’s been better than anyone could have imagined this year, especially offensively. That part of Skjei’s game was never trumpeted in scouting reports, but his unexpected passing skills combined with his ability to skate the puck to safety have made Skjei a very dangerous weapon.

– With Ryan McDonagh’s return to an elite level and the reports that New York is interested in retaining the very useful Brendan Smith, the Blueshirts could be halfway to a solid defense going forward. Smith has been pretty much exactly as billed – he brings nothing to the table offensively but is rock solid in his own end, plays with an edge and flips the ice pretty quickly. There’s no flashiness to his game but he’s a perfectly effective player.

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Mar
12

Thought on injuries and depth

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henrik lunqdvist

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac (Newsday)

The Rangers received some brutal news yesterday, as goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will be out for 2-3 weeks with a lower body injury. It may not seem brutal at the moment due to Antti Raanta’s superb play, but if this is something that will linger into the playoffs for Hank, then it could be a critical blow to any chances this year. As always, I have some thoughts.

1. As mentioned above, if this is something that lingers, it could pose a serious problem for this year’s playoff chances. As great as Raanta’s been, he’s not Lundqvist, and he’s not playoff Lundqvist. Hank steps up his game in the playoffs, and when one of the top goalies in the world gets hot, anything can happen. If he gets hot like he did to kick off last season, then the Rangers could make a run. Again, no slight against Raanta, but he’s no Hank.

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Yesterday sure was a day in Rangerland, wasn’t it? The Rangers world was lit on fire when the Rangers announced that they had recalled Tanner Glass and Steven Kampfer. The move was designed to address a perceived issue that the Rangers lacked toughness. So Glass and Kampfer have been recalled. And I have some thoughts.

1. Let’s start with the reason why the call ups were made: Toughness. First things first, toughness is a very subjective term. I think toughness is quantified by playing through injuries. Others believe it to be the number of hits delivered. Regardless of your definition of toughness, there are two problems with these moves. The first is that two players –one (Kampfer) who won’t be in the lineup in a week– do not change the toughness culture. Players that have that requisite “skill” need to be dispersed throughout the lineup. The second is that no one seemed to have a problem with this exact same lineup in January when they were winning games. It only became an issue over the past four games.

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adam clendening

All is quiet in Ranger land at the moment. The trade deadline has passed. The Rangers would need to have an epic collapse to miss the playoffs. The only questions now are who they will face and how successful they will be. So with that, I posed a question about what you want to see in this post, and got some replies, so let’s have at it.

Kevin asks: What do you think the final stretch lines/pairings will be? (This came up multiple times, but Kevin was the first to ask)

I don’t think we are going to see much change in the lineup. The top nine will remain the same. We will see some changes on the fourth line though. Expect Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast (when healthy) to be the mainstays. Brandon Pirri and Pavel Buchnevich will rotate in. That’s what I have when fully healthy for the playoffs. While Fast is out, I expect Matt Puempel to join the rotation.

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Mar
03

Some quick Friday afternoon thoughts

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I know, I know, Dave just gave his thoughts on the deadline yesterday, but Dave and I are not the same person.  Deal with it.  It’s been a couple days since the deadline has passed, and I have had the ability to process the Rangers moves (and non-moves) and as you can imagine, I have some thoughts…

1. Considering Alain Vigneault’s track record with defensive deployment, it’s understandable for fans to be skeptical about the actual impact of the Brendan Smith trade. With someone like Shattenkirk, it would be a no-brainer to put him on the first pair. With Smith, depending on your view of his skill level, he could play anywhere from 1RD to 3RD. It seems like the Wisconsin connection with Ryan McDonagh has him ticketed for the first pair, which is a good thing. I don’t believe that Smith is an actual 1RD by any stretch, but since the Rangers gave up some relatively significant assets to acquire him, I’d much rather he push guys down the line up, than lengthen it from the bottom.

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Mar
02

Thoughts following the trade deadline

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brendan smith

The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Rangers made their big move on Tuesday, not yesterday. That big move was acquiring Brendan Smith for a pair of draft picks. They made three other minor league moves, but nothing that moves the needle or even impacts the Rangers that much. The focus is on Smith, his impact, and how the Rangers fare for the rest of the season. So let’s get into it.

1. The Smith trade is an upgrade on the current defense. Smith, despite being a lefty, is a RD and has history with Ryan McDonagh, as they were paired together at Wisconsin. That leads me to believe that Smith will get the top bidding even when Girardi returns. That is dependent on how well McDonagh and Smith play together, but at this rate anything is better than Girardi on the top pair. So in that regard, the Rangers have a major net positive.

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brendan smith

The Rangers made their first major move at the trade deadline yesterday, landing defenseman Brendan Smith of the Detroit Red Wings for a 2018 2nd rounder (Ottawa’s) and a 2017 3rd rounder. The price was steep, but the Rangers got a solid upgrade on defense. There’s a lot bouncing around in my mind, so let’s have at it.

1. Make no mistake. Smith is a major upgrade on both Kevin Klein and Dan Girardi. He’s not flashy. He’s not going to score much. But he’s steady in his own end. He is a good skater. He moves the puck well. He does a lot of little things needed to win the game. He’s basically a left-handed Anton Stralman. If you recall, Stralman didn’t score much for the Rangers, but was loved for the little things he did with the puck to help the transition out of the defensive zone.

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Feb
28

Musings: Trade deadline eve

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Michael Grabner could bring in a haul, but that’s irrelevant to the Rangers

– Washington really came out of nowhere to land Kevin Shattenkirk. And good for the Caps – just as the Rangers have been frenetically trying to capitalize on Henrik Lundqvist’s remaining years, Washington has been trying to finish the job with Alex Ovechkin. The Rangers were surely in this, but in the end they may prove to be smart allowing Washington to sacrifice future assets while still ultimately landing Shattenkirk this summer for another run next year. The reported cost of first- and second-round draft picks along with prospect Zach Sanford isn’t absurd, but clearly it was more than Jeff Gorton was comfortable paying. Kudos to him for drawing a line – now we’ll see if it all works out.

– The question is, do the Rangers now change their plans? The prevailing favorite just landed the highest impact player of the deadline. Is anyone in the Eastern Conference other than the Penguins confident enough they can go toe-to-toe with Washington that they want to splurge assets on mediocre talent? It might not be the most sensible arms race.

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