Archive for Musings
– 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.
– I wonder if Dylan McIlrath requested a trade and that wish was granted once Jacob Trouba re-signed. I was very skeptical that McIlrath was part of a hypothetical swap with the Jets, but the timing is awfully curious coming a day after the Trouba situation was resolved given that McIlrath cleared waivers a week ago.
– McIlrath himself just wasn’t cut out for the game Alain Vigneault wants to play. You could argue that he deserved a better shot and should have played in place of Dan Girardi last year, but it’s not like the Blueshirts gave up on a future Norris Trophy winner here.
– In any case, let’s hope for the best for McIlrath. He had a great attitude throughout the last couple years under difficult circumstances. By all accounts he was a great teammate. And we’ll always have this.
Last night, the Rangers collected their eight victory of the season over the red hot (?!) Edmonton Oilers. The Blueshirts spoiled Cam Talbot’s return to the Garden and scored five goals for the sixth time in eleven games this season, which is nuts. Any way, I have some thoughts.
1. There has been a lot of discussion about PDO when it comes to the Rangers performance thus far. It’s not like last year where unsustainably hot goaltending was masking other issues, but more of a discussion about high shooting percentage and low save percentage evening out. The Rangers would still be a very good team under this analysis, but just not the offensive powerhouse that they have been to this point. Read More→
The Rangers beat the Islanders by a score of 5-3 last night. There were some good things, there were some bad things. But I prefer to take the hot take approach, for poops and giggles. Let’s see how sizzling we can be.
- The Rangers are on pace for 410 goals over a full 82 game season. Considering the forward depth, and assuming Alain Vigneault continues to make the proper personnel decisions, I think the Rangers can average 2.9 goals per game, so roughly 240 goals for the regular season.
- The Rangers are on pace to allow 246 goals over a full 82 game season. Unless moves are made, I think that number is alarmingly close to accurate. Let’s come in at 2.75 goals allowed per game, so 225 goals allowed.
- Henrik Lundqvist will flip over 6 nets this season. Guaranteed.
As promised, seeing as the first Blueseatblogs Fantasy league filled up in no time at all, we’re opening up another league at short notice.
The league set-up (roster size, draft time, scoring settings etc.) will be the same as the first league. Details of which you can find here.
The two divisions of six will be called Hands up who hates the Islanders and Dear Rick, goals would be nice.
League number two will draft 6pm eastern, tomorrow. Register here.