Archive for Musings
Welcome to 2015, BSB faithful. 2014 is now behind us, which is a little weird, to be honest. It was a pretty interesting year, all told. We got a Stanley Cup Final run, a traded Captain, Stadium Series Games, troublesome contract negotiations and much more. But, it’s now ancient history, so let’s talk about some of the topics burning in the New Year…
- Obviously non-Rangers related, but is it just me, or has the Winter Classic jumped the shark? Sure, it’s still interesting, and playing hockey outdoors will always be awesome, but the whole thing was just “blah” this year. Maybe it’s the rotating hosting of Bettman’s favorite teams. Or Pierre Maguire’s obnoxious voice. Or the fact we didn’t get a 24/7 because no one knows what EPIX is.
- Back to Rangerland. Oh, look Tanner Glass sits and the Rangers get back to winning. I’m kidding, the whole thing has gotten a little out of hand. We all know Tanner Glass is god awful at the occupation he makes over a million dollars a year at. Yet he continues to play, and it doesn’t make that much of a difference. Until it does, against good teams, in the playoffs. Figure it out, AV.
- I will be very interested to see how Sather (or his successor?) handles the long term construction of the blue line. Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi are the only two players locked in long-term, and it seems with every game that Marc Staal is inching toward the door. Kevin Klein is around for the mid-term, but not a cornerstone piece. Dan Boyle likely won’t be here beyond next season. Matt Hunwick isn’t a long-term solution. Would have been nice if John Moore turned that smooth skating and size into more useful hockey skills.
- The forwards are in a slightly different boat with a glut of talent on the wings and very little depth up the middle. At some point, the front office needs to turn that strength into assets that are needed, but there really is not much available on the market. High-end centers are the league’s most valuable commodity, and while Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan have been very serviceable in the Top-6, this team could really use a true 1C. Something tells me Jim Nill is too smart to give away Tyler Seguin.
- Henrik Lundqvist has played much better lately. He is still prone to the odd soft goal or two, but I feel like if we traded that goal every couple games for one of the absurd saves he makes going in, no one would be complaining. No one likes soft goals, but he hasn’t allowed them in situations which cost the team games.
- Wouldn’t it be nice if this actually got Chris Kreider going?
- Rick Nash is still a monster. It had to be said.
- Don’t you love how these west coast games conspire to throw a wrench into the schedule? Not only does it suck having to stay up for them, you get a string of non-conference games against tough opponents. We should be getting the opportunity to improve our playoff positioning with matchups against the Isles, Caps and Penguins right now. But nope, here come the Sharks, Ducks and Kings.
- I’m not going to completely rip off Chris’s setup here and throw a bunch of questions out, but there are a few things I’m curious about how the community feels:
- Do you think this team as constructed can make another run?
- With that in mind, trade deadline wish list?
- Do you think Chris Kreider is more valuable long-term on the roster or as a trade asset?
- What would be your minimum required asset to rid the team of Girardi’s contract?
- What would you look for in a potential Marc Staal trade?
- And finally, the question bomb: if you could flip Henrik Lundqvist (and his contract) for John Gibson, would you do it?
I hope those who celebrated Christmas yesterday had a lovely holiday. For those who celebrated Hannukah, I hope you had a lovely eight days leading up to Festivus. Before the holiday break started, the Rangers won seven in a row, including a big divisional matchup against the Caps on Tuesday night. There has been a roster freeze in effect until today, but it didn’t really affect the Rangers. News has been slow, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have random thoughts to go through on this slow day.
- I hope you all like the new site design. It will take some getting used to. Everything used to scroll chronologically, and for the most part it still does. The difference is the image scroller at the top, which will have the six most recent featured posts. A featured post will be our standard posts that you see twice per day, and it will also include any big news/transactions.
- The list underneath is in chronological order and will include any other post (lineup changes, FanDuel notices, minor news) and any featured post after the six most recent. Again, it will take some getting used to.
The New York Rangers have spun off six straight wins against teams that they really needed to beat to remain relevant in the Metro Division. The win that started it all was an overtime win against the Penguins, followed by wins over Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, and two over Carolina. The wins bumped them to 38 points in 31 games, good for 4th in the division and the 2nd wild card spot in the conference.
The good thing is that the Rangers have two games in hand on all teams ahead of them in the Metro, and three games in hand on the Boston Bruins (37 points), who will eventually climb back into the playoff picture once Florida and Toronto falter. However, it would be nice to slip into third place with a win tonight against the Caps (40 points in 33 games).
If the Rangers win tonight against Washington, there’s a chance they can win out the rest of the month. Games against the Devils and at Dallas/Florida remain following the Christmas break. The Devils can’t score, the Stars can’t play defense, and Florida has eight loser points. Let’s not count chickens before they hatch though.
You will notice that the Rangers didn’t really gain much ground in the division with those wins. That’s because the Pens, Isles, and Caps all kept pace with win streaks of their own. That’s why tonight’s game is very important. A win in regulation is critical.
Although you can’t really nitpick on the current six-game win streak, the powerplay has been bad (as Suit pointed out this morning) and the wins haven’t all been pretty. The Rangers hit an unlucky streak against Carolina but still came out with wins. The good thing is that they absolutely dominated them, so while there were some lazy spots, it wasn’t a case of the Rangers playing down to their opponent.
Puck possession certainly has been trending in the right direction. The chart below shows FF% (the first of the two charts) at even strength when the score is within 1 goal (five-game rolling average):
The second chart shows FF% density. The highest point in this chart is the most frequent FF% for the Rangers, which is slightly below 50%. Their average is right around 50%. Ideally you want that to be higher, but it has certainly moved in the right direction the last few games (see the top chart). It’s worth noting that the bottom chart is in all scoring situations, so score effects isn’t taken into account.
The Rangers are certainly moving in the right direction, and the best teams beat up on the bad teams while treading water against the good teams. There’s cause for optimism here, but the Rangers need to continue putting up W’s to stay relevant in the Metro. The Pens and Isles aren’t going anywhere.
If you live anywhere near New York City, you know the holidays are in full swing. Traffic is at an all time high, the sidewalks are especially difficult to navigate and Rangers tickets are astronomically high for teams that aren’t very good. Also, there are pretty awesome displays, lights and huge trees everywhere. It’s a lovely time to be around the city.
It’s also a lovely time to reminisce about whether we’ve been naughty or nice and, if we’ve been very good, what we should ask for. Let’s be honest – who doesn’t love gifts? Last year, the staff at BSB asked Santa Sather for some moves and, well, basically none of us got anything (except a commenter asked for Lee Stempniak- bold move). Maybe we were all very bad. This year, instead of having a BSB-wide wish list, you’re all stuck with mine.
This past week kind of embodies what it’s been like to be a Rangers fan the past few years. They had a stellar showing against some weak competition after calls for the team to go on a run through a soft portion of the schedule. So far, so good, right? We always have that little seed of doubt, due mostly to runs of maddening inconsistency and lingering concerns about the results matching the #fancystats or the eye test.
As I was kicking around ideas for a post for today, I realized there are some interesting concepts floating around the team, but no prevailing narrative since we are all kind of holding out breathe to see if this team has really turned the corner after injuries and inconsistency. So, you get a thoughts post… Read More→
What a difference a week makes. The Rangers went to Western Canada unsure of themselves and came back on a roll, with a double header against a weak opponent on tap. It’s the festive season and the Rangers can really make some ground up to close out the year. A week to go before Christmas, let’s muse.
The cliché was always that power forwards take several years to maximise their potential. Could it really be that Rick Nash has only just begun to fulfil his potential? Yes he has been an elite power forward for several years and a consistent goal scorer but it’s a fair argument that he’s never maxed his undoubted skill set and upside. Until now.
Nash is definitely having the best patch of his career. Consistent, a beast at both ends all the while he’s finishing at an unprecedented rate. He’s a game changing force every single game. It’s early, but people have started to whisper the words Hart Trophy candidate with regard to Nash. Absolutely deserves to be in the mix.
Should we be worried about Dan Boyle? Or glad that he’s a sort of afterthought because of the improved play of the Rangers ‘big three’ on the blueline?
It’s been a dead two weeks in Rangerland lately. The schedule is the reason behind this, as the Rangers played games on 11/29 and 12/1, followed by four days off. They then repeated the Saturday/Monday games with another four days off. Four games over a span of two weeks means significant rest. Considering how banged up the Rangers have been all season, this was a good time to get that rest.
You guys know me, I’m a fan of my bullet points for musings, so here we go.
- Despite dealing with major injuries throughout the start of the year, the Rangers have emerged as one of the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division. I expect them to finish in the top-three, behind the Penguins and the Islanders (who are for real). Washington has actually started to play defense for the first time in recent memory, so they could be a surprise. After that, the Devils have the same old issues as last year: Can’t score, despite fantastic possession numbers.
The Rangers have had a relatively light week which gives us some time to reflect on the Rangers’ play this year including some statistical insight. No fancy stats, just numbers.
Reflecting on players’ performances to this point in the season, how many Rangers have justified their cap hit this season? Rick Nash, Martin St Louis, Derick Brassard and Derick Stepan have all justified their deals to this point. Brassard and Nash in particular have been good if not great while St Louis has torn it up the past couple weeks to cast aside the indifferent games he had as a center.
After that? Carl Hagelin represents good value, Lee Stempniak could flirt with 15-20 goals if he stays in the line-up, Dom Moore has been as advertised (reliable) and Matt Hunwick – the occasional gaffe aside – has certainly been worth a 600k commitment. Kevin Klein’s contract has become more and more acceptable as his game has improved. That makes nine for those counting.
Have a happy thanksgiving everyone. Just a few Rangers thoughts to keep you going as you head into the thanksgiving weekend.
Last season it was a ‘Marty St Louis love fest’. The two games against the Lightning this season, well they have been Ryan Callahan love fests. Given the Rangers’ familiarity with their former captain and fan favourite it is completely unacceptable Callahan can have as much time and space in front of Lundqvist as he has done. Has a player ever torched their ex-club so much in their first games against their former employers as Captain Cally has?
Once again, we’ve seen the ugly side of Marc Staal. He was awful against Callahan and the Lightning. Yet he was excellent against the Canadiens and Flyers. Again, this type of inconsistency cannot be accepted especially for someone wanting the dollars Staal does.
Rick Nash scores when he wants. Nash had one of his quieter games in recent weeks. He wasn’t as dominant as he usually is yet he had a two point night. It’s always a good sign when a player finds ways to contribute even when not at their best. Nash has been a beast this year and is the absolute critical mass the Rangers need him to be.
Funny how things work out: Kevin Klein’s contract is starting to look very good value. In a league where a guy like Nikita Nikitn can get well over 4m on a multi-year deal, Klein’s steady improvement is making him a bargain. The sample size is small but Klein certainly has the talent to keep it up.
The one thing we’ve come to expect of our hockey clubs in New York is consistency. With the New York Rangers, that consistency, at least in the opening few months of the season, is defined as consistently inconsistent. It’s a bit of a running joke, but it’s alarmingly true. Last night’s game was a prime example of how this club can play when they don’t play down to their competition. They did just that when they lose to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, and Colorado Avalanche, all pretty bad teams.
Sure, you can blame the injuries to the blue line, and no team has really suffered injuries to the extent the Rangers have, but all teams do deal with injuries. You can point to the Derek Stepan injury, which led to an even more massive hole at center than initially predicted —by us— at the beginning of the season. But the Rangers have an opportunity now to put that inconsistency behind them with a relatively easy schedule to close out the month. Of course, being consistently inconsistent, you never know.
On to the musings: