John is angry
As we’ve hit the final day of the regular season, it’s time to look back and think about surprise teams, great plays and big news from around the league. As our boys in blue look ahead to opening up the playoffs against Philly Thursday night, several teams around the league are getting their golf equipment ready and leaving hockey for the summer. Of those teams are nearly all of the Canadian teams (except for Montreal) and a bevy of shocked fanbases. Ahead is a season reflective musings for this sunny Sunday on the East Coast.
Worst Display by a Fanbase: The Edmonton Oilers had an absolutely abysmal season, finishing with just 67 points after acquiring a new head coach (Dallas Eakins) and a new captain (Andrew Ference) in the offseason. In an effort to show their displeasure with the team, a fan decided to throw their sweater on the ice. Twice. Goalie Ben Scrivens voiced how disrespectful that is, which it is, as it shows a lack of appreciation for all of those years that the teams before the 2014 squad had won. Scary thought: the Oilers wouldn’t even be the worst team if they played in the East. Scarier thought: when their talent clicks and they start to do well. I wish I was tech-savvy and could embed the video, instead, watch it here.
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Long term contention? Photo: Brad Penner, USA Today
The Rangers entertain the hapless Sabres tonight. A team with hopes of a deep playoff run should be winning tonight with ease so with that jinx behind us, let’s throw up a few Ranger based thoughts.
Let’s briefly address the ‘win now’ theory. Henrik Lundqvist is 32 and has a shiny new seven year deal. He hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down and with several examples of goalies playing to an elite level deep into their 30’s, there’s no reason to think Lundqvist can’t do the same.
The defense has a strong under-contract core (Staal, Girardi, McDonagh and Klein) of which none are the wrong side of thirty. The forward corps (Nash and St Louis not considered) could feature six players in the top nine who have contributed to the Rangers this year (as presently constructed) that are all 26 or under and of which none have maxed out their potential – think Kreider, Hagelin, Stepan, Zuccarello, Brassard and JT Miller.
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Little man get paid big?
Yes, I know Dave gave you a Musings this morning. Whatever. You’re being spoiled today with two. As the Rangers close in on a playoff spot, form, health and special teams become so incredibly important at this time of the year. With the Avalanche on tap this evening, let’s have a muse for the second time today.
It’s nice to see the Captain (the real captain) holds no apparent bitterness toward the Rangers following his coaching snub last summer. Mark Messier says the Rangers have a chance at the Cup and, if they avoid the Bruins, there’s no reason to think they can’t go far if health and form holds up.
That said, the Rangers cannot go far in the post season without a better powerplay and consistency from Nash, St Louis, Richards – in that order. The defense will keep this team in games, Henrik Lundqvist will steal games but the offense needs to spot the King a lead or two. Stating the obvious?
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Photo: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
As the playoffs approach, the Rangers have been one of the hotter teams of late, winning eight of ten games to solidify their spot in the playoffs. With five games remaining, their magic number to clinch a spot is three, while the magic number to clinch a non-wild card spot is down to seven. It seems almost a guarantee that the Rangers will make the playoffs.
The Rangers will go as far as Henrik Lundqvist takes them. They have the best goaltending in the Eastern Conference, and a hot Hank will spell doom for most of the opposition. Hank has shown he can steal a playoff series, mainly against Washington, and will likely need to do so at least once this year. The best part is that –Calgary clunker aside– Hank is playing some of his better hockey of late. When the All-World caliber goalie is starting to get hot, it’s a good sign.
As important as Hank is, injuries will play a significant role again. The Rangers are already having trouble replacing Chris Kreider in the lineup, with Dan Carcillo getting top-six minutes. J.T. Miller isn’t ready for The Show yet, and there aren’t many options in Hartford that appear ready. If Ryan McDonagh is out for an extended period of time, that means Justin Falk is getting 10-12 minutes a game. The injury depth isn’t there.
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As often happens, my esteemed colleagues here at Blue Seat Blogs have comprehensively covered the vast majority of the pressing Rangers issues of the day, so I’m going to meander through some various thoughts as we approach tonight’s matchup with Calgary.
- Tonight’s game has trap written all over it. The Flames are terrible and the Rangers have won five in a row. With a playoff spot looking more and more secure, it’s my biggest concern that these easy points could slip away as the team looks ahead.
- With that said, this is a quality test for AV and the team’s leadership to keep the squad focused on the task at hand. Home ice in the first round is still attainable, and they just need to look no further than the LA Kings of 2012 to see what a massive hot streak entering the playoffs can do for a team’s Cup aspirations. Read more »
The. Best. Goalie. In. The. World. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
The Rangers are riding a strong run of form, have a goalie close to his peak and beat the Flyers with relative ease Wednesday night. With so many positives let’s muse.
They wouldn’t be the Philadelphia Flyers if they wouldn’t look to start something at the end of a game in which they’re losing, would they? Completely classless franchise.
I had a discussion with some friends today; are the Flyers the least classy organisation in sport?
McDonagh I: I’ve been banging the Ryan McDonagh drum for weeks now. He’s a bonafide elite, Norris worthy defenseman. He’s taken the next step that Marc Staal has always been close to taking but for various reasons (usually injury) hasn’t quite made. This year McDonagh went from being a quality two way defenseman to being a dominant linchpin of a quality defensive unit.
McDonagh II: Jaromir Jagr is perhaps the single greatest trade/acquisition in the Glen Sather era. Or is he? Has the McDonagh trade taken over Jagr as being the best move of the Sather reign? The trade with Montreal allowed so many dominoes to fall in place and that’s without factoring in the top 10 NHL defenseman he has become.
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Muscle for the 2013-14 Rangers
During Friday night’s melee against the Blue
Rangers Jackets, we certainly saw something we weren’t used to seeing since the departure of our captain at the very latest; we saw heart and a team playing with passion. We also saw an instance of a hard, borderline hit which rocked one of our players so hard he hasn’t played since with a questionable timetable to return. Though I feel I can speak for everyone in saying we never want to see this, what we saw afterwards was refreshing.
The passion came about with a fight – a quick 30 second dance – between a seasoned fighter and a guy who’s got 5 prior career NHL fights. Benoit Pouliot made his best effort to avenge an apparent concussion on John Moore, holding his own and pinning down Derek MacKenzie. For me, an unashamed Pouliot fan, this was exactly what I love to see: a guy unafraid to potentially get his butt handed to him in an effort to let the other team know they can’t mess with our guys. But is that really the right way?
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Photo: NJ Star-Ledger
The playoffs are right around the corner, and the Rangers are in the thick of things, competing for not just a playoff spot, but competing to avoid the two wild card spots and dates with either the Penguins or Bruins. Over the past few seasons, 92 points has been the “guaranteed” position. Hit 92 points, and you get to the playoffs. Fall below, and you need help. That’s where the Rangers need to get to.
With 78 points and 12 games remaining, the Rangers would need 14 of the possible 24 points to hit that mark. Considering the schedule, with just four games against playoff teams remaining, they should be able to hit that mark. After all, that requires a measly 5-3-4 record. Certainly doable considering their toughest opponents will be Montreal, Columbus, and Philly: Three teams that I believe are no better –if not worse– than the Rangers.
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With the Rangers playing the Rangers rejects (or is that the Blue Jackets playing the Blue Jacket rejects?) on Friday it seemed like a good chance to throw up a Musings ahead of Friday’s game in Columbus. So, let’s get to it.
The fact that there is even a debate as to who won the Nash deal (so far) is proof enough that Nash has underwhelmed so far in New York. Nash was by far the best player moved in the deal but while the ex-Rangers in Columbus have developed quite well Nash has left the Rangers fans always wanting more.
Given the likelihood of Brad Richards leaving in the summer, you think the Rangers would live either of Dubinsky or Anisimov back? Dubinsky has 41 points so far, as he’s playing major minutes and a good two way game for Columbus while Anisimov is on 19 goals for the season and playing a very solid year to date. Both would still be solid players for the Rangers.
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Moving on up?
Admin note 1: The upgrade had some issues last night, and will continue into today. I am disabling comments on this post for now, as this is currently on the old database. This post will reappear on the new database when this is complete.
Admin note 2: Comments have been activated. The migration is near complete, but there will be limited functionality until it is complete.
Before we jump into this week’s musings, I first want to thank everyone for their patience as our site’s server was recently upgraded and we were unable to post anything for the last 24 hours. As Dave stated yesterday, hopefully this upgrade will help the site run a little smoother and faster.
Back to business. Below are this week’s random thoughts on the state of the Rangers. As always, feel free to pop off in the comments section below.
The last Stral?
This past week Larry Brooks reported that Anton Stralman turned down a three-year, nine million dollar contract offer from the Rangers. Two thoughts on this. First, Stralman isn’t worth much more than that. While he’s been a dependable defensemen, Diaz and Klein – both right-handed shots – make Stralman expendable. Both guys were accustomed to playing around 18 minutes a night prior to their trade to the Rangers.
The other interesting thing about this news was that Stralman’s agent denied the report, which leads me to believe the Rangers leaked this to Larry Brooks and not Stralman’s camp. I don’t know how the rest of you feel, but I’m getting pretty tired of these public contract negotiations which seem to be happening more and more with our current players. I wonder if they’re getting sick of this too.
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