Archive for Players
The answer about where Martin St. Louis will play next year has been answered. When the Rangers announced they will not be bringing the winger back, there were a few teams interested, but ultimately the 40 year old winger decided on retirement instead. St. Louis, a shoo-in Hall of Famer, was noticeably slower in the second half of the season and in the playoffs, as it appeared age caught up with him.
That said, MSL is, again, a HOFer, possibly on the first ballot. In an era where bigger was better, the 5’8″ winger redefined what it meant to be an NHL player, paving the way for smaller, skilled players like Mats Zuccarello and Tyler Johnson. In 1134 games, MSL put up a line of 391-642-1033 (22-38-60 in 93 games with the Rangers) in the regular season. In the playoffs, he had a line of 42-48-90 in 102 games (9-13-22 in 43 games with the Rangers), including a Stanley Cup with the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning.
His best moment as a Ranger, by far, was this goal:
This goal gave the Rangers a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Montreal Canadiens, a series the Rangers would win in six games.
Last season, the Rangers deployed Benoit Pouliot, Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello on their third line and Derek Dorsett, Dominic Moore and Brian Boyle on the fourth for much of the season. Needless to say, depth up front was a team strength.
Thanks to the cap crunch and some head-scratching offseason moves, the bottom-six just wasn’t quite the same this year. The team spent much of the season attempting to identify a third-line scoring winger and failed to support Dominic Moore on the checking unit. But though the sum of its parts wasn’t good enough, many members of the bottom-six did have terrific seasons.
What more could you ask for from the prized former Blackhawks first-round pick after he chose to join the Rangers last summer? Hayes really turned it on in the second-half, when it seemed like he improved every single game. Hayes has an impressive combination of size, hands and wheels, and the sky appears to be the limit for the 23-year-old. Hayes was a little quieter in the playoffs, but it’s hard to fault him for that.
Grade: A Read More→
Back by popular demand, we’ve decided to kick-start our annual player, coaching, and management report cards. As a reminder, these grades aren’t just based on stats, but also the execution of each personnel or player’s respective role within the organization. Obviously there’s some subjectivity here, but that’s what makes these interesting and conversational.
As always, feel free to post your own grades in the comments section below.
There’s no way to spin it. Girardi did not have a good season. While his effort was undeniably at a maximum, unfortunately his output was still a career low. This year was his worst statistical (scoring chance differential) season on record. What made matters worse was this came after a subpar performance in the 2014 playoffs.
It’s fair to point out that he may have the team’s toughest task with shutting down opposing stars and getting buried with defensive zone starts (after a whistle). However, he’s paid to break up those dangerous plays in the slot and this year he didn’t do that with any regularity. In general, I thought he just looked a step slower.
Henrik Lundqvist is the New York Rangers. He’s their best player, their leader, and the heart and soul of the team. This team goes as far as Lundqvist goes in the postseason. An injury to him would derail any potential playoff run.
Or so we thought.
While most of the above is true, the Rangers dealt with adversity this season when Lundqvist took a puck to the throat, sidelining him with a vascular injury for six weeks. Enter Cam Talbot, the Rangers backup with just 32 NHL games under his belt prior to the injury. Those games were solid, but it was unclear if Talbot would be able to shoulder that load.
Throughout the playoffs, both this year and last, those of us with heads on our shoulders have had to deal with the constant complaining about Rick Nash. While I can accept complaining from passionate fans, who just want to see their team win and vent their frustrations on the highest paid player, I won’t accept this from lazy analysts and broadcasters. Their job is to provide unbiased opinions, and in that regard, they fail.
Nash is not without criticism. He hasn’t scored. The onus falls on him to score. Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy wrote a very good piece on his scoring woes that you should read. To quickly summarize: Nash, like a lot of guys who aren’t bonafide stars, loads up season totals on bad teams, but struggles to score against playoff teams. That’s not a unique situation to Nash though.
Lambert re-evaluated Nash’s playoff performances based on his play against playoff teams in the regular season. The numbers were much more consistent with what we expect. This year alone, he’s seen a 32% (!!!) drop –not in the actual number, but his current SH% is 32% less than his average. For example, if his SH% is 10% for his career, he’s shooting 6.8%, which is a 32% drop– in his shooting percentage. That’s awful luck, and has negatively affected his G/60 (and raw goals, for those who don’t like per-60 numbers).
When Mats Zuccarello went down with a concussion –side bar: It is not a fractured skull.
That was a baseless rumor started by a faceless Twitter rumor account that just wanted attention. Rule of thumb, if the rumor comes from an account with no face, it’s not a rumor– we knew someone on the Rangers would have to step up. Zuccarello is an integral part of the offense, and not easily replaced.
Chris Kreider, who had a relatively quiet series against the Penguins, has stepped up to the plate. He has four goals this series, three of which have come in the last two games with the Rangers facing elimination. It’s not like he’s just getting garbage goals either. He’s scoring at key times that give the Rangers an extra boost.
His offensive outburst started in Game Two, when his early goal set the mood for a Rangers win to even the series.
Two games in and Rick Nash has been good against the Capitals. Whether good is enough to win a Cup is another debate but the best part about Nash so far is that he appears to be getting better as the series develops.
Nash’s lack of goals in the postseason is an issue, of course it is. When your 42 goal regular season scorer, highest paid skater and go-to forward isn’t filling the net it’s an issue. However while Nash plays well and continues to make game influencing plays like he did in game two it’s fine, the Rangers can cope with this issue better than most teams in the league. If Alex Ovechkin suddenly stopped scoring (that would be nice) the Caps would be in trouble as the Caps can’t match the Rangers in depth; there’s a major difference in how the teams are constructed.
Miller finally found a home when he was deployed alongside Hayes and Carl Hagelin on a third line that developed instant chemistry. And when the Blueshirts traded Lee Stempniak and Anthony Duclair, Miller’s position was virtually guaranteed for the rest of the season. That regular spot in the lineup seems to have been the confidence boost Miller needed to settle in as an NHL regular and take his game to the next level.
Since then, he’s gotten better and better. In March Miller trailed just Hayes, Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider in P/60 and ranked seventh on the team in SCF% (by War-on-Ice’s definition). Miller earned a promotion to the second line in the wake of Marty St. Louis’ injury and has fit right in.
Let’s kick it back two months, shall we? Rangers playing Carolina, some traffic in front of Henrik Lundqvist and suddenly the face of the franchise is laying on the ice with an injury. It stops a fan dead in their tracks. Suddenly, we all channel our inner Dr. Briere and learn the workings of whatever is ailing Lundqvist. Henrik came back for one game, but ultimately was sidelined for the better part of two months.
Since nobody is a guarantee for postseason hockey until late March – and that’s only if you’re very lucky – the often mentally unstable fan base was on their collective ledges sobbing for what could have been of the 2014-15 season. Enter Cam Talbot, a once-career AHL goalie whose first season as a backup with the Rangers last year proved him worthy of a one year extension, signed through 2016. Cameron, I hope you troll the interwebs for your name, cause this is an open letter to you, kind sir.
In case you missed it, Mackenzie Skapski was returned to the Hartford Wolf Pack yesterday. That means one and only one thing: Henrik Lundqvist is ready to go. After six long weeks without that glorious hair and perfect charisma, The King is ready to go.
If your memory serves you, Lundqvist is the best goalie in New York Rangers history. No offense to Mike Richter, Eddie Giacomin, and Mike Dunham, but The King is better than all of them. He was, after all, the guy behind the save that sent the Rangers to the Cup Finals last year:
It’s not difficult to fall in love with that man right there. That save is unbelievable. But the best part is when he takes his helmet off.