Category: Players

Raphael Diaz filling in nicely as injury replacement

Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

When the Rangers acquired Raphael Diaz for a 5th round pick, it was pegged as a depth move made by a team that needed a #7 defenseman pretty badly. We made the same assessment, but said not to sleep on that deal. Diaz was a solid contributor for Montreal and Vancouver, perhaps more-so than his numbers would indicate. The Rangers sorely needed an injury replacement, and the acquisition couldn’t have come at a better time.

It was three weeks following his acquisition that John Moore went down with an apparent concussion. When he was ready to return, Ryan McDonagh went down with a shoulder injury. Diaz has been in the lineup for nine straight games, notching a goal and an assist in the process. But it’s what he’s done away from the puck that has kept the blue line steady while their best defensemen has been sidelined.

Read more »

Alain Vigneault gives J.T. Miller some tough love

It’s just tough love.

There’s a specific reason why I waited a little bit to address the comments Alain Vigneault made about J.T. Miller yesterday. First, there was a ton of over reaction from the majority of the fan base, and we wanted to let that subside. Second, I wanted to let the comments settle in before I addressed them. If you missed the comments, AV called out Miller’s work ethic and commitment:

“He just hasn’t earned the right to be at this level on a regular basis,” Vigneault said, hours before the Rangers-Avalanche match. “He needs to show more commitment on the ice and off. Until he does that, he hasn’t earned the right.”

“J.T. has to figure it out, and hopefully he will,” Vigneault said. “When he does, we’re going to have a good player. If he doesn’t, he will be a good minor league player.”

Let’s not sugar coat this, these words are a clear message to the former first round pick. You have to work hard on and off the ice to succeed at this level. It’s a lesson that all kids must learn. But that’s just it, a lesson.

Read more »

Benoit Pouliot’s breakout year is a good example of why teams roll the dice on disappointing youngsters

Benoit Pouliot has blossomed in New York after playing for four teams in his first six seasons

Every year it seems like the Rangers have a reclamation project or two on their roster. There have been former first- and second-round picks that never panned out in their former homes like Enver Lisin, Chris Higgins, Alex Frolov, Wojtek Wolski and Brian Boyle as well as fringe NHLers looking for a final shot like Ales Kotalik, Anton Stralman, John Mitchell, Erik Christensen and Aaron Voros.

Really, every team has a guy or two like that. The majority of them last no more than a year or two with their respective new clubs before shuffling off to a different NHL team if they’re lucky – or, in most cases, to the minors or overseas. But every so often, the light bulb goes on. Boyle and Stralman have both been valuable players for the Blueshirts for the last several years and this season, Benoit Pouliot has played a major role.

Read more »

St. Louis’ struggles go beyond goals

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

In the comments section of yesterday’s goal breakdown, BSB regular SalMerc made a comment about how Martin St. Louis’ presence on the ice seemed to be opening up space for others. I thought that was a solid idea for a post, since he isn’t scoring. We’ve looked past snake bitten players in the past (see: Dubinsky, Brandon) when they are doing other things to assist their teammates, so this seemed to be another case of that. If player’s that just can’t seem to score are doing the right things on the ice, then the ship will eventually right itself and the player will begin scoring again. At least, that’s the theory.

Looking at the Rangers team page on Extra Skater, the first thing to notice is that in his 14 games since the trade, MSL is facing the toughest competition on the team (tied with Nash at 29.9% ToTm% QoC). This helps us conclude that SalMerc’s observation is an accurate one: His on-ice presence is affecting how the opposition matches up against him. He is drawing the top defensive assignments, which opens up the ice for his teammates. It’s a small sample size, so we need to take this with a grain of salt, but since it is MSL, we can assume these matchups will continue.

Read more »

Carcillo deserves an extension

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

It almost sounds strange to say, but Daniel Carcillo has been a welcomed addition to the New York Rangers hockey club. Once public enemy #1 after smacking the bejesus out of Marian Gaborik, Carcillo has brought some sandpaper to an otherwise vanilla team.

Back in December, before Sather traded for Carcillo, I wrote the Rangers needed to acquire a player with some grit to their game. Since his acquisition, the Rangers seem to have a different dynamic. Given, a lot has clicked since those dog days of winter, but Carcillo’s game shouldn’t be undersold.

He’s been good on the forecheck, he’s drawn more penalties than he’s taken, and he’s 4th on the team in hits per game. Most importantly, Carcillo has avoided the box. He has only 8 minors this season. Continuing this narrative will be important come playoff time when bottom six players always seem to grab the spotlight.

Read more »

Ryan McDonagh’s case for the Norris

Photo Credit: LoHud

Photo Credit: LoHud

If there is one award that is up in the air this year, it is the Norris Trophy for best defenseman. Only once in the post-Lidstrom era has a purely offensive defenseman (Erik Karlsson) won the award, but the award does generally lean towards those with pretty offensive numbers (although that’s clearly not the only criteria, or else Mike Green would have won a few times). The award goes to the guy that can play in all three zones, and be one of the best in the league at doing so. It’s why guys like Lidstrom, Zdeno Chara, Duncan Keith, and Chris Pronger are (were) always in the running. It’s why we expect P.K. Subban to be in the running for the majority of his career.

But yet, Ryan McDonagh seems to be an afterthought for this award. I don’t think I’ve even seen him mentioned in the conversation this year. But yet, he sits 12th in defensive scoring with a line of 13-29-42 on an offensively starved Rangers squad. The four guys from 8th-11th are all on non-playoff teams. We still don’t hear his name mentioned, despite him playing almost 25 minutes per game (13th in the league).

So who do we constantly hear about for the Norris? This year, it appears to be Keith’s award to lose. But we also hear a lot about Subban, Shea Weber, Alex Pietrangelo, and Ryan Suter. All great defensemen, but where does McDonagh line up with all these guys?

Read more »

Getting the most out of Martin St. Louis

More

Courtesy of Getty Images

It has started already hasn’t it? Like Nash vs. Dubi & Arty, or Torts vs. AV, or Prust vs. [insert annual banger's last name here], Rangers fans are watching Martin St. Louis’ every move and comparing them to the box scores coming out of Tampa.

To date, many have already declared a winner and loser of this trade. Our former captain has potted 6 points in 9 games, including a game winner. Moreover, his fit with the Tampa Bay Lightning was recently described as ‘seamless’ by head coach John Cooper.

For the Rangers? Marty’s integration with the Blueshirts has been about as fitting as a suit from Men’s Warehouse. Far from bespoke.

With that said, now isn’t the time to analyze the trade or compare box scores on a game by game basis. That won’t do anyone any good. Right now, we have to figure out how to make this work, because this whole zero goals in eleven games thing can’t continue much longer.

Read more »

Derek Stepan’s improved form crucial to Rangers’ hopes

Derek Stepan is an essential to the Rangers

Derek Stepan is essential to the Rangers

Too many times this season, Derek Stepan – no longer a kid on the Rangers roster – has been a passenger. Despite having 48 points (on course for 55), most people consider his season an underwhelming one, which speaks to Derek’s talent and just how much fans expect of him. Stepan needs to be involved and needs to generate offense for his wingers for the Rangers to be successful. Recently, Stepan has improved and it bodes well for the stretch drive.

With 11 points in his last 10 games, Stepan has started to find some consistency including four goals in his last eight games. It goes beyond the numbers though. Using his goal last night against the Blue Jackets as an example, Stepan is going to the dangerous areas on the ice where he is more involved. He’s going to the net, he’s playing between the circles and recently, he’s looking to use his underrated shot more than he has for most of the season. Five games in a row, Stepan has registered at least two shots on net and looks more involved in games than at any other stage of the season.

Read more »

Why Chris Kreider may be the most important player on the New York Rangers

Frank Franklin II, AP Photo

Frank Franklin II, AP Photo

When the Rangers traded away Ryan Callahan, they traded away a major part of their core to be able to acquire an injection of elite skill in veteran Martin St Louis. It also indicated a change in emphasis on the roster – have the Rangers truly embraces a win-now mode? Barring an unexpected turn of events, Brad Richards will be joining Callahan as an ex-Ranger after this season, and more may follow – think Derick Brassard, Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore et al. Major roster turnover may be around the corner, as Dave mentioned this morning.

With the absence of first round draft picks, the Rangers can’t be expected to land any can’t miss prospects through the draft for the foreseeable future. This subsequently cranks up the pressure on the current youth in the organisation. Enter Chris Kreider.

While the Rangers undoubtedly live and die by Henrik Lundqvist’s form and the scoring ability of St. Louis and Rick Nash, Kreider is the closest thing the franchise has to a sure-fire elite offensive weapon in the long-term. With Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Lundqvist anchoring the team defensively, the team should be in enough games to be competitive. But where do the goals come from?

Read more »

Rick Nash needs to step up

rick-nash1

Has anyone seen this man?

At some stage, Rick Nash needs to be a consistent game changing force because that’s what he is being paid to be. At some stage, people will begin to question his ability to be motivated game in, game out. At some stage if things continue the way they are, the media criticism – so far, relatively tame on Nash – will crank up.

Even with Marty St Louis’ arrival, Nash may still be the most talented skater on the Rangers. Given St Louis’ eventual Hall of Fame conclusion to his career and Ryan McDonagh’s ascendancy to elite defenseman, that’s a big statement. However, 32 points in 52 games simply cannot be an acceptable return from Nash, even allowing for injuries and the disrupted Olympic season.

What’s wrong with Nash? Prior to the Canadian Olympic roster being named – and after it – Nash admitted that the call to Canada’s elite team was a cause of motivation. It also showed in his play as Nash scored in bunches. In New York Nash should have $7.8 million reasons to be motivated. It goes beyond money though.

Read more »