Archive for Musings
Chris usually gets to have all the fun with these musings posts, but my thoughts are all over the place with so many interesting developments in the first four games of the season. So here are some of my early impressions:
- It seems like entering each year now, there’s buzz about how the upcoming season will be the Rangers’ last real chance at the Cup and the window is rapidly closing. But that’s really a bunch of baloney. The end of this run could come, and it could come suddenly – but if it does, it will only because Henrik Lundqvist has finally fallen from his perch atop the mountain of NHL goalies. Four games into this season, that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon. Lundqvist has responded to coach Alain Vigneault’s challenge to start the year better with a sparkling stretch of unbelievable saves. Lundqvist’s reflexes look faster than ever, and if he’s actually able to continue this hot streak for the first few weeks and months when Lundqvist usually struggles, then you might as well hand him the Vezina Trophy now.
- One of my biggest problems with trading Carl Hagelin was that I thought his speed was essential to the team’s identity. Bu this year’s version of the Blueshirts plays as frenetic as ever. There’s still speed to burn up and down the lineup and it has to be a nightmare to defend.
Over the weekend, Rangers Twitter was ablaze with fury as Alain Vigneault dressed Tanner Glass over Jesper Fast. “Why take out a kid who has proved he belongs for a veteran who shouldn’t be in the lineup?” everyone said. “We all knew Glass wouldn’t stay in the press box much longer,” said others. This was compounded when AV stated that he liked Glass on the fourth line, and would not change his forwards.
But then came the bomb: Dan Boyle will be sitting for Dylan McIlrath. Boyle –who hasn’t been as advertised since signing last summer– is “struggling” according to a few. To others, including myself, he’s unspectacular, but efficient. Any rage that wasn’t spent on Glass was now shifted at AV, not for dressing McIlrath, but for scratching Boyle. For some reason, people thought it would be Dan Girardi (yea, right) or Kevin Klein (not after his start).
Now everyone repeat after me.
Isn’t everyone in a much better mood now that hockey is back? It doesn’t hurt that the Rangers won their opener against the defending champs and rained on their obnoxious banner-raising ceremony. Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for the Blackhawks organization, but my god, that was a little much. The Blueshirts are back at it tonight against Columbus, so I figured I would share some thoughts on game day…
In the interest of keeping this in some semblance of order, I’m going to try and compartmentalize these bullets into ‘Hawks thoughts and then Blue Jackets thoughts.
Happy Friday, BSB’ers! The preseason is officially over and we are only five days away from the 2015-2016 opener in Chicago. There are still some cuts looming and possibly a roster move or two. Naturally, I have some thoughts…
1. The more I think about the concept, the more I like the idea of eight defenseman. The Rangers have a pretty diverse skill set amongst their backliners, so I think using some sort of rotation to keep certain guys (Boyle, Girardi) fresh and to take advantage of matchups is a good idea.
2. Kevin Klein is a difficult call for me. On one hand, he is overpriced for his place on this roster. I think he is a bargain for teams of lesser defensive depth, but he is a luxury for us. His presence makes for waiver exposure to cost-effective guys that are useful to the roster. Read More→
Four questions this week as the training camp battles heat up. As always, you can use the widget on the right to send all your questions to me, and I will answer them in a weekly mailbag post.
anon asks: Why do you think Kevin Hayes should stick to center? He can’t win a faceoff to save his life.
I’ve addressed this on Twitter a bunch of times, but I may as well address it here too. While faceoffs on special teams are important, even strength faceoffs don’t do much in terms of controlling the play. It’s what is done after the faceoff that matters. The Derek Stepan winner against Washington showed us that much, as Stepan didn’t win that draw. It was Jesper Fast that came in and poked the puck to Keith Yandle that set the whole play up. But I digress.
The point with Hayes is that of his 45 points last year, I believe 40 of them were either goals or primary assists. That’s 90% primary points for him. That’s what you want your centers to do. You want them to create offense, you don’t want them to be passengers. Hayes is very smart as well, as he consistently drives to the net, and he gets himself open to shoot. He’s a beast with the puck, and he’s pretty solid defensively too. Faceoffs are skill that can be improved upon. You can’t teach hockey IQ, and Hayes has that in droves.
Received one question this week. This is a unique question, since I think the sender was spam, but it asked a question that a few folks have asked in the comments. So, spammer, you get your question answered. Congrats, that’s a first here. As always, submit your questions for the mailbag via the widget on the right side of the page.
Columbus (Spam) asks: Why are forecasters picking the Rangers to finish second or third, behind the Islanders and Blue Jackets?
And now you see why I think this question was spam. Not many are picking the Isles or Blue Jackets to finish ahead of the Rangers. Most predictions I’ve seen have the Penguins and/or Capitals finishing ahead of the Rangers. The Isles still have questions on their blue line and in their forward depth. The Blue Jackets have a great set of forwards, but their defense is suspect.
Finally. September. The ridiculous 90+ degree heat hasn’t seemed to stop, but at least hockey is not only weeks, instead of months, away. There has been a summer full of great off-season analysis, and Traverse City is right around the corner. As we move at break-neck speed back toward hockey season, I have some thoughts…
There have been several slightly off-topic articles written over the past few weeks that I wanted to throw my .02 in, at least just conceptually. Read More→
It truly is the dog days of summer. It’s not just the Rangers that are quiet but the league in general is in its summer slumber but there’s still a few things worth discussing – both Ranger and league wide.
Danny Briere officially retired this week. Another undersized player, like Marty St Louis Briere also had to fight his way up depth charts to forge a good career. Even though he was a first round draft pick he wasn’t an immediate success. Not Hall of Fame worthy but almost 700 points as well as over 100 playoff points makes an impressive resume.
Offseason (slightly biased) prediction: Henrik Lundqvist finally wins his second Vezina. He should be fresh and will have a pretty big workload meaning strong volume stats.
Two questions this week. As always, submit your questions using the form on the right, and we will answer them in our weekly mailbag.
asfjr asks: With the possibility of expansion coming in the next 2 or 3 years, what rules are there for protecting players with NMC/NTC? Say expansion happens after the 15/16 season, would the Rangers be required to protect Marc Staal since he will still have an NMC, but still be able to expose Dan Girardi since he will only have an NTC?
Now this is an interesting question that I simply can’t answer right now. There are no provisions in the current CBA that account for an expansion draft, so this is something that would need to be negotiated by the league and the union. When expansion is approved by the Board of Governors (and yes, it’s a when, not an if), then this will be a hot topic.
No-move clauses are designed to protect against any involuntary movement, meaning trades or demotions. However, there are varying degrees. Take Derek Stepan: He has a full no trade for part of his deal, and a limited no-trade for part of his deal, but he has full no-move throughout. What I am interpreting this to mean is when his NTC goes from full to limited, his NMC will protect him from a demotion. A full NTC and NMC covers everything. A limited NTC and a full NMC covers demotions and limited trades. That’s just my guess though.
In addition to checking on the teams in the Metropolitan we’re going to take a look at general league goings on as we’re in the middle of hockey summer and as we eventually approach the pre-season. So, without further delay…
Unsustainable shooting percentage
Starting with some Rangers stuff (hey, we’re a Ranger blog after all). Having looked at the shooting percentages, Kevin Hayes (15.3%) will be an interesting follow next year as his shooting % is surely unsustainable. Offensively Hayes finished the regular season on fire but can he repeat his numbers, can he kick on offensively or, given a likely shooting percentage regression, will his numbers take a dip?
Bernier lowballed by the Leafs.