His record in Game Seven’s is borderline outrageous: 5-1 in game sevens, 1.00 GAA, .965%. Numbers that only get better when looking at the last four Game Sevens. He’s 10-2 when facing elimination. All eye popping numbers and the list goes on and on. Imagine if he had received better offensive support in recent years?
When you remove Lundqvist’s difficult start to the season, you can begin to make a legitimate argument that not only is Lundqvist the best goaltender in hockey but he’s the most clutch performer in the entire sport. Name another goaltender that has received as little offensive support as Lundqvist and has done more with it than the former Vezina winner? Lundqvist always steps up in big games and that’s all you can ask from your best player.
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AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
When Chris Kreider went down with his hand injury in March, the immediate effect wasn’t apparent. The Rangers kept winning, and the hole in the lineup, specifically on the second line, wasn’t exposed. That’s to be expected when you consider the relatively easy March/April schedule for the Rangers, but with the playoffs looming, the club had a real problem on their hands. They didn’t have the depth to replace a top-six forward.
The hole was something that New York struggled to fix. Jesper Fast proved to be effective in a defensive role, but lacked the offensive punch (for now) to be a mainstay in the lineup. J.T. Miller had the exact opposite problem, as his play without the puck was too erratic to counter his aggressive play. Dan Carcillo was certainly effective, but he has always been more of a wild card than a reliable offensive force. Call him the new Sean Avery, circa 2011. None of these three had the ability to fill the hole Kreider left, and it showed.
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Rob Carr/Getty Images
Relative to his offensive expectations, Brian Boyle draws a lot of unnecessary heat from Rangers fans. There are a few reasons why fans seem to think he’s “useless” and “an oaf,” although many of them aren’t really thought out. Common arguments are that Boyle doesn’t score anymore –he’s not a scorer– and that Boyle isn’t a physical presence –he is. But, people see what they want: A 6’7 forward who once scored 20 goals who doesn’t drop the glove twice a game. These appear to be the main issues with Boyle.
But what people miss about Boyle is that he is probably one of the best fourth line centers in the game. He pretty much lives in the defensive zone, he gets huge minutes on the penalty kill, and, relatively speaking with his zone starts, is decent at driving puck possession (i.e.: not a tire fire because he spend less than 30% of his time in the offensive zone). But perhaps the biggest contribution is his willingness to sacrifice his body to block the shot, something we saw in Game Five.
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Brassard needs to be more consistent if he’s to be a long term Ranger Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Derick Brassard has a ton of ability and has flashed it countless times as a Ranger. Along with Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot he was part of the Rangers’ most consistent line all season, however was Brassard individually consistent enough to warrant being brought back next year?
Brassard came in from Columbus last year and was an impact player for the Rangers. Brassard was one of the few Rangers who distinguished themselves in the playoffs last season, but this year has been different as Brassard has been underwhelming in the playoffs following a streaky regular season.
Two big questions surround Brassard’s future in New York. How much of his (limited) success was a result of Mats Zuccarello’s breakout year and how much will Brassard demand to stay with the Rangers? Both questions aren’t easy to answer. The chemistry that Brassard showed with Zuccarello and Pouliot isn’t easy to measure or replicate. Secondly, given the weak free agent class this summer Brassard could make more money on the open market, if he gets there. Brassard was the fourth highest paid Ranger forward this year as he made $3.2m in salary during 2013-14.
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Returning tonight. Sweet.
With the news of Chris Kreider’s imminent return to the Rangers line-up (likely tonight), it’s fair to say the sooner the talented winger is back in the line-up the better the Rangers chances are to overcome the Penguins. The fact that a rookie – who has had a solid yet unspectacular first full season with the Rangers – is almost seen as a saviour for the offense can be seen as an indirect criticism of most if not all of the Rangers big name offensive players up front, most notably Rick Nash.
How Chris Kreider fares in this year’s playoffs and the start of next season will have a direct impact on the future of Rick Nash. Many Rangers fans have already begun to jump off the Nash bandwagon amid his distinct lack of playoff production. If Kreider could come back and become the consistent scorer everyone thinks he could be it could spell danger for Nash’s Rangers future.
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When I sat down to write last night, I was set on a post about Rick Nash. He’s the center of attention lately, and I was going to dive into his traditional and #fancystats to see the impact he was having on the team. But then this E:60 segment was brought to my attention.
For those unfamiliar, E:60 is a show that has short stories on athletes around the world. This time around, Jeremy Schaap focused on the story of Rangers forward and Masterton nominee Dominic Moore. Moore took 18 months off from hockey to be with his wife, who passed away last year. This is his story, and it’s a tear jerker. I posted a preview below, but the full story is 12 minutes long and can be found here.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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