Archive for Musings
The Rangers’ defensive lapses and disappointing individual performances have been discussed again and again, but one surprising issue this season has been the frequency with which the team hits the ice with very little energy. We saw so few of those pure stinker games in recent years under first John Tortorella and then Alain Vigneault, but this impossible-to-measure quality has been missing this season with unacceptable regularity.
Part of the problem has been the exodus of key individuals that served as the main spark plugs for the Blueshirts. Former captain Ryan Callahan could always be counted on to give the team a lift by sacrificing his body, Carl Hagelin had the unique ability to fly on ice and wreak havoc in the opponent’s zone, and Martin St. Louis channeled his veteran status and personal experiences into juice for the club. The Rangers survived the departure of Callahan just fine, but losing the latter two last summer may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Read More→
The Rangers find themselves back in action on Tuesday, after their seven day All-Star layoff. Hopefully, the rest does the team well, as they have exchanged optimistic signs of improvement with mediocre displays over the past few weeks (months). While we take a little breather from competitive hockey, I have some thoughts.
Might as well start with the All-Star Game. I will just say what we are all thinking: it’s terrible. It has been terrible for quite some time. At least it doesn’t determine home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final, but that’s a different discussion altogether. I have read various articles on how to improve it, and at least the NHL is trying. Yearly tweaks to format, a fantasy draft, etc., have at least shown the league acknowledges the problem. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a realistic fix. Players don’t try, which is fine. The problem is over the past few years they spend more time just dicking around than they do playing hockey. I understand that these guys work very hard over the course of the year and deserve some levity and recreation. The problem is watching Carey Price play goal backwards just isn’t very entertaining. That’s not to even touch on the whole John Scott fiasco. Read More→
Two questions for this week’s mailbag. As always, email us your questions using the form on the right.
Felix asks: Given all the (well deserved) criticism about AV’s stubbornness in sticking with declining aging players, why do think he hasn’t learned his lesson from his Vancouver days and is seemingly recreating his own demise, this time in New York?
This is tough to answer. Part of AV’s dismissal in Vancouver was due to reluctance to play younger guys. That appears to be true this year, especially with Dylan McIlrath. However Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, and Kevin Hayes have all flourished under AV. The argument can be made that Kreider, Miller, and Hayes all had to play, as the Rangers had no other option and that when there is an option, AV leans on veterans at the detriment to the team.
Two questions for this week’s mailbag. As always, submit your questions using the mailbag widget on the right.
Hawkeye asks: We have heard talk about how stubborn AV is, and how he is playing favorites by never critiquing Glass, Girardi, and Staal. How much do our assistant coaches play in this? What are Scott and Ulf doing that hasn’t improved the Rangers play during this season? Can they be held responsible as well?
The assistant coaches play a large role in roster decisions as well, but ultimately the buck stops with Alain Vigneault. It’s why he’s the subject of most of the criticism. AV also doesn’t have history on his side, as one of the main concerns that led to his termination in Vancouver was his inability to move on from the declining play of veterans.
Two questions for the mailbag. These came in a while ago, but I honestly haven’t had the chance to address. Sorry for the delay. As always, if you have questions, submit via the mailbag tool on the right.
RFiB asks: What are your opinions of the job AV has done through his 2+ years as Rangers coach? Questions have been popping up recently about his ability to lead this team to the Cup, and I wanted to get the official BSB take.
This is tough to answer. I think Alain Vigneault is a great coach. After the adjustment period when he first came on board, the Rangers steamrolled the Eastern Conference in the second half, but struggled to close out teams in the playoffs. They made it to the Cup Final and lost the closes five game series you’ll ever see. The Rangers had horrible luck in that series. Overall, his first year was a rounding success.
Merry Christmas, y’all! It’s a lovely day, whether you celebrate or not, because chances are, you’re not at work! If you do celebrate, you’re also feverishly unwrapping gifts and relieved that shopping madness is over. Bonus: it’s super warm in the Northeast, so if you’re not quite in the mood to watch Hour 14 of the Yule Log, you can go play outside and burn off some of that ham.
Tomorrow starts 10 day haul that is the IIHF World Junior Championships over in Finland, so our hockey withdrawal will slowly subside. Prelims on Saturday include Canada-USA at 1pm. We also get the return of NHL hockey tomorrow, so before then, let’s take a look at what the BSB crew is low-key hoping to get this morning from Santa.
The Rangers completed a trip through western Canada over the weekend, going a miserable 0-2-1 against Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary. They played well in Vancouver, but lost due to some questionable officiating. But the two games in Alberta were train wrecks, with the Rangers giving up 12 goals total in those games. Time for some additional thoughts.
1. Those that paid attention to the underlying stats saw this coming. The Rangers were playing above their heads, relying too much on goaltending and unsustainable shooting, and not playing a puck possession game. All of the team’s issues were masked by the goaltending and shooting, and now we are seeing this come crashing down to Earth. The stats are more of a predictive model of which teams are following right process but not necessarily getting results, as well as identifying teams that are getting results without process. It’s like The Weather Channel. They aren’t always right, but most of the time, they are. This is one of those times where they were right, and the Rangers’ poor play is catching up to them.
After a tough loss against Vancouver, the Rangers continue their west coast trip tonight in Edmonton. Between late games and a somewhat erratic, feast or famine schedule, I have some scattered thoughts…
1) Can you believe we are past the 1/3 mark of the season already? I am of the mind set that the first third is for evaluating your systems and personnel, the second third is for making adjustments and the final third is for making that push toward the playoffs. Injuries to Kevin Klein and Derek Stepan have thrown something of a wrench into that plan.
2) Speaking of those injuries, they have really wrecked havoc on AV’s deployment and line management. I understanding you are without one of your top-six centers and top-4 defensemen. That would be a serious issue for any contending team. The concern I have is that it seems like AV is putting a greater focus on trying to find lightning in a bottle with his line combo’s than he is trying to find a reliable balance.
The Rangers got whooped against the Canadiens Wednesday night. Happy thanksgiving everyone! All jokes aside, the Rangers were brutal, but the record is still full of good things so on that note, let’s have a short thanksgiving musings shall we? Have a great day today everyone. Happy holidays.
I’ve gotten a lot of heat recently for writing negative posts on the Rangers despite the sexy record and division lead. The thing is, the Rangers are not playing well in their own zone at all and are over complicating things in the offensive zone as well. We all love the record but if the Rangers ambitions are another trip to the Finals, the play has to begin to catch up to the record.
It’s fact that the list of Rangers players meeting expectations is a lot shorter than the list of players who could be playing much better.
When I started writing this post, I had about 20 things going through my mind about this team, but nothing was solid enough to be a stand alone post. After about an hour of trying to figure out what to write about, it dawned on me. Since Thursday is Thanksgiving, a Monday Musings sounded like a solid idea. I feel like this should have come to me sooner than an hour later, but such is life.
- Let’s get this out of the way first: This start is easy to enjoy. Getting all these points now will make things a lot easier in March/April when other teams are fighting for their playoff lives. They haven’t clinched anything yet, but 32 points after one-quarter of the season is a nice bank of points to start with.
- That said, this team has not been playing as well as their record indicates. That’s not saying they aren’t as good as their record, it’s saying they have not been playing like an elite team. Their defense has been relatively atrocious, and they’ve been poor with puck management. They’ve excelled with what we’ve expected them to: goaltending and transition scoring. Based on the reaction from the poor showing in Florida, people are starting to catch on.
- There will be a significant PDO crash for this team. That means the hot shooting will likely level out, as will the unsustainable goaltending. This doesn’t mean the Rangers will become a bad team, it just means that we should expect some losses. No team can continue at this pace, it’s just not possible.