Archive for Players

May
14

Retaining Brendan Smith is Key

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Brendan smith

Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

As we reflect on the 2016-17 Rangers season, and unfortunately short postseason, one thing that ought to be clear is that this team’s defense simply isn’t good enough as currently constructed. The Rangers are obviously going to have to do something about Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, may make a serious push for Kevin Shattenkirk, and will most certainly have to give Brady Skjei the bigger role he deserves on this blueline. One other thing became abundantly clear this postseason, and it goes hand in hand with my last point: the Rangers must re-sign Brendan Smith.

This past playoff run, Smith showed that he is absolutely indispensable on the back end alongside Skjei, with his savvy play allowing the youngster to take more liberties and let his offensive potential shine. Their chemistry was plainly evident, and they would make a solid second pairing together.

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May
08

It’s time to start trusting Brady Skjei

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brady skjei

Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Over the course of the past few weeks, coach Alain Vigneault has come under significant criticism. This is certainly warranted, as he has leaned on his veterans in the playoffs –like most coaches– to deliver late. The problem is that we are now at three games where these veterans have coughed up a late lead. All three times, the Rangers wound up losing in overtime.

While the players on the ice seem to change when the tying goal is scored, the one constant is that Brady Skjei rarely sees ice time in these situations. On Saturday, he was benched for the final five minutes. The Senators tied it late and won in overtime. The same thing happened in Game 2. Same result. He saw just one shift in Game 2 against Montreal. Same result.

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May
06

On Tanner Glassdom

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tanner glass

Let’s all take a moment here to appreciate Tanner Glass. I say that sincerely and with a straight face – dude had a nice game on Thursday night and deserves some appreciation. I’d like to do a bit more than just appreciate Tanner Glass however, I’d like to talk about him and the phenomena of obsession over him by some fans and members of the media.

You see there’s a misconception out there that some fans who would rather he not be in the lineup hate Tanner Glass or hope to see him fail. The response by those who hold this misconception is to praise Tanner Glass over and over, exalting his character and work ethic.

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mika zibanejad

When teams are struggling to score it’s easy to look down a roster and pick off players with the zeros. While Chris Kreider has been nearly invisible this playoff series, I have noticed that Mika Zibanejad has been getting flack. Zibanejad will forever be linked to Big Game Brass, a fan favorite, and during the playoffs it’s easy to be nostalgic. Zibanejad has only one point thus far, while Derick Brassard has five. It’s easy to see the frustration some fans have for Zibanejad, but that’s a very small window for comparison.

Brassard came to the Rangers during his 25 year old season in the NHL. That is already one later than Zibanejad (who is also five years younger), who just turned 24 a few days ago. Before Brassard came to the Rangers he was seen as a risky center with injury history that had been unable to reach his potential with Columbus. The Rangers helped mold Brassard and utilized his skill properly by placing him with the right players. Low and behold, Brassard blossomed in front of our eyes. So why are we so down on Zibanejad?

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Mika Zibanejad has just four fewer points than Derick Brassard despite missing 25 games with a broken fibula

For Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich, the 2016-2017 season did not go according to plan.

Zibanejad missed 25 games with a broken fibula suffered on November 20th and Buchnevich was removed from the lineup to undergo a midseason strengthening plan devised by the Rangers coaching staff.

But despite their lengthy absences, both players exhibited early signs of what they can bring to the table. Zibanejad was New York’s most dominant forward in the preseason other than Chris Kreider and quickly demonstrated the creativity and two-way play that attracted the Rangers to him this summer.

Buchnevich took a bit longer to flash as he adapted to the North American game, but he racked up goals in four straight games before going on the shelf.

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Apr
04

What a year for Mats Zuccarello

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mats zuccarello

Mats Zuccarello has been something special for the Rangers. When he first came on board, he was an unknown that was having a lot of trouble adjusting to the North American game. It wasn’t until he made the necessary adjustments (discussed in detail by Suit) that he was able to become a productive and consistent NHL player.

Fast forward to today, and Zucc is about to put together his second straight 60 point season, third if you want to round up from 59 during the 2013 season. But it’s not just the points that are impressive. Well, they are, as are those amazing passes he makes look routine and simple. But it’s the fact that he makes others around him better.

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Mar
27

Regression, thy name is Michael Grabner

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michael grabner

Photo: NHLI/Getty Images

Michael Grabner has been a helluva find for the Rangers this year. His 27 goals and 39 points are about double what any rational mind expected when the Rangers inked him to a two-year deal worth $1.6 million. Expansion draft fodder. Solid bottom-six depth. Decent penalty killer. Those were the expectations.

But then Grabner started scoring, and scoring often. He started scoring so often that he became the leading goal scorer on the team, and has an outside shot at a 30-goal season. With that came something we all saw coming. Grabner was shooting over 20%. The regression was coming. And it was going to come fast.

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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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