Archive for Players

kevin klein

One of the big storylines this season for the Rangers has been injuries. Throughout the season, skaters all across the lineup have endured some form of injury or another, with even the perennially healthy Henrik Lundqvist falling victim to the injury bug. We’ve already covered the Jesper Fast angle of the injury story, so I thought I’d probe one of the more interesting questions raised by a fully healthy lineup: what happens with Kevin Klein.

Most everyone can acknowledge that Klein has had a down year. He’s never been much more than a low-end second pair, more appropriately third pair guy, but in years past his offensive production has masked his shortcomings. This year not so much, with the play of red hot rookie Brady Skjei compensating for his errors at best and those same errors on full display at worst.

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tanner glass

Folks, I’m going to break a rule of mine. You see, I had promised myself that aside from the game recap the other night, I wouldn’t devote any time or thought to the Tanner Glass recall. Figuring that it’s a minor move likely to be soon undone, and deciding that there were better horses to beat to death than the one that’s been beaten over and over, I made a solemn vow to just find something else to talk about.

The other night however Alain Vigneualt made a decision that simply put, blew my mind. I had long since turned off the game (I wasn’t feeling well and just wanted to sleep), so I learned about this all secondhand, but with a one-goal deficit late in the third AV opted to play Tanner Glass as his extra attacker, benching Pavel Buchnevich.

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Mar
10

Brady Skjei deserves Calder votes

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brady skjei

Bruce Bennet/Getty Images

I swear I am not stealing Joe Fortunato’s post. I had this idea on Tuesday and today was the first chance I got to write/post it. Don’t hate, Joe. 

One of the many bright spots this season has been the evolution of Brady Skjei. Called up briefly last season, Skjei looked nervous in his first NHL action. It was clear there was potential and that he deserved to be in the lineup regularly, but he needed a little more seasoning and experience.

When this season started, Skjei was put into a sheltered role on the third pair. This gave him the opportunity to gain confidence in himself, but also gave him the chance to earn Alain Vigneault’s trust. Fast forward to March 10, and Skjei is easily the best non-Ryan McDonagh defenseman on the team.

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Mar
09

What is wrong with Derek Stepan?

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AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

There are two major discussion points that don’t involve Tanner Glass or any of the members of the defense. One is the woes at MSG, which I covered yesterday. The other is the slump of the Rangers top center. Derek Stepan has a line of 12-32-44 through 67 games. That puts him on pace for 54 points over an 82 game season, on par for his career average.

However the Stepan we’ve seen since January 17, the last time he scored a goal, is not the Stepan that is capable of putting up 54 points per season. In that span of 22 games, Stepan has just eight assists. It has drawn the ire of a good number of fans as well. And don’t think it’s gone unnoticed around here either. So let’s dive into what might be troubling Stepan.

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dan girardi

Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

This offseason, head coach Alain Vigneault said the plan was to get defenseman Dan Girardi some rest from time to time. The idea made sense, as Girardi played most of last season with a fractured kneecap, and was just downright awful. This was on top of his declining play becoming the focal point among fans. After all, keeping Girardi fresh is the best way to get the best hockey out of him as he ages.

However through this point of the season, Girardi has been a healthy scratch for rest just once. It has showed in his on-ice performance, as he simply can’t keep up with the opposition’s top skaters. But that hasn’t stopped AV from dressing him nightly. He was asked about this after practice on Saturday, and his answer clued us into what his approach will be going forward.

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Feb
11

Chasing 400 wins

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henrik lundqvist

I remember watching when Henrik Lundqvist first arriving on the scene in 2005. Kevin Weekes had just gone down with an injury, and the soon to be anointed King took over for a game. Then one game became two. Then two became two in a row. Then three in a row, and then he was the starter, appearing in 53 games that season and winning 30 of them.

That was his first 30 win season. He would win at least 30 in every non-lockout season following, and sits at 399 career wins. Usually I’m hesitant to use goaltender wins as a mark of success because it is a team oriented stat, but in watching Hank you know he carried a number of those Rangers teams much farther than they should have been. Without Hank, the post-Jaromir Jagr teams are non-playoff teams until 2011-2012.

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kevin hayes

The New York Rangers are an incredible case study, I do not believe that there has ever been a team with such stark differences regarding the talent level between the offense and the defense. The offense is so deep that we may as well call our forwards Mariana. Tje defense… eh I don’t have to say anything.

In the grand scheme of things, especially seeing the moves that GM Jeff Gorton made over the summer, I still consider this season to be a transition season, and it hasn’t been as bad on the eyes as last year so that’s always fun. The Rangers’ possession numbers aren’t something to be thrilled about though, and while the defense has been a focal point of the issues that we have faced, I think there are some things that may at least be worth trying to maximize the potential of our offense.

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mats zuccarello

Mats Zuccarello is showing that hockey is for everyone. He has been named the You Can Play Ambassador for the Rangers. The You Can Play project is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the LGBTQ community and fighting homophobia in sports.

Per the Hockey is for Everyone calendar, the Rangers will participate in festivities on February 5th when they host the Calgary Flames, and on February 7th when they host the Anaheim Ducks. I’d like to see them on the calendar more, considering the city in which they play.

The NHL is doing a wonderful thing for equal rights and fighting hate. Kudos to Zucc for taking on a role in the effort.

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pavel buchnevich

Bruce Bennet/Getty Images

The Rangers should have already seen enough from Pavel Buchnevich that it should be the talented Russian (and Chris Kreider) that should be the cornerstone(s) of the offense moving forward. Of course, JT Miller, Kevin Hayes and Mika Zibanejad should be critical components of this team up front but no one has the upside of Kreider and Buchnevich.

The Rangers need to make some bold decisions about the state of the offense over the next half a season or so and any decision should revolve around Kreider and Buchnevich. The Rangers have a ton of young depth but none are more important than Buch.

Can you really focus an offense around a young man that has 17 games in the NHL? Yes you can. Is it too early to do so? Perhaps, but teams need to commit to their young talent earlier than ever in the current NHL and Buchnevich is a good example of a player you hitch your wagon to.

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Jan
30

Jimmy Vesey and the NCAA wall

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jimmy vesey

Photo: Brad Penner-USA Today

As the prized offseason signing for the Rangers, Jimmy Vesey burst onto the scene in his first month of NHL action. The highly touted rookie put up a line of 6-3-9 in his first ten NHL games, as the Rangers blew teams away to start the season. But as the Rangers dealt with injuries and the scoring regressed to a more realistic pace, Vesey’s scoring has disappeared. In his past 38 games, Vesey has scored just five goals and five assists, a far cry from the near point-per-game pace.

The dip in scoring was to be expected. It’s rare you get rookies that can score at a point per game, and those kids are usually taken in the top-five picks. Vesey was a third rounder and not an elite talent like McDavid or Matthews. Beyond the expected drop off, this is also the most hockey Vesey has ever played. He has played 48 games thus far, and the last time he even touched 40 games was in 2011-2012.

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