Archive for Players
Rick Nash may never again score 40 goals in a season, but his play this season should put any debate about his Rangers’ future to bed. So long as Dan Girardi is on the Rangers blue line, and Jeff Gorton doesn’t significantly address the Rangers defense, the Rangers cannot afford to get rid of a genuinely elite two-way player such as Nash.
Nash’s play without the puck and his defensive conscience are essential to the team, as in his absence we’ve seen inconsistent play from the forwards in their own zone. The Rangers are not a good team defensively and this relative ineptitude in their own zone has only enforced Nash’s importance to the cause.
Even before confirmation that he needs to be protected in the expansion draft, Nash’s own impressive play this season should have made him a player the Rangers would have protected anyway. There is simply no replacing Nash. Whether it’s his ability as a goal scorer, as a leader, or as a two-way example to the younger players on the roster. Cap hit and age be damned.
The Rangers need defensive help. Most of that is because of the rapid decline of Dan Girardi, who continues to play on the top pair due to lack of other options on the Rangers. No matter where you sit on the Girardi spectrum, it’s tough to argue against Girardi being a shell of what he was five years ago. Players like him deserve a leash, but that leash should have run out two years ago.
Beyond his declining play, his contract is an albatross to the Rangers. He is signed for another three years following the 2016-2017 season, with a $5.5 million cap hit. The Rangers were able to get some cap breathing space in the Derick Brassard/Mika Zibanejad swap, but not enough to make an adequate fix to the defense. Even if the Rangers had the space to make an upgrade, there’s no room for additions. Something has to give.
At the end of last spring, it was fairly apparent to anyone who had watched the team, whether it was all year long or just the short time the Rangers spent in the post season, that the defense was an issue. Putting aside GM Jeff Gorton’s attempts to address this issue or lack thereof, a popular narrative began floating around that the squad’s worst two defenders, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, would bounce back come October.
Although at the time this notion may have seemed plausible to some and wishful thinking to others, we’re at a point in the season where we can begin to evaluate whether or not that either player has truly bounced back. The Rangers have played enough games to get us to a point where statistical sample sizes are meaningful, and the body of work that we’ve seen on the ice is more than just a momentary flash in the pan.
Ever since Cody Eakin laid a dirty hit on Henrik Lundqvist, one that got him suspended for four games, there has been talk that the Rangers are not tough enough. They need someone to retaliate in these situations. They need a deterrent to prevent hits like that. All this had led to discussion that Tanner Glass should be recalled and immediately inserted into the lineup. A certain beat write wrote about it, and I’m not about to link to that piece.
There is nothing wrong with thinking the Rangers need to add a little bit of fear to the lineup. I am one of the people who believed the Rangers should have tackled Eakin for that hit, and forfeited the powerplay. I have absolutely no problem with that line of thinking. However I draw the line at one-dimensional players that struggle in other aspects of the game. So no, Tanner Glass is not the solution to anything.
We here at BSB have been granted an exclusive story. We have it on good word from Russian Intelligence that Russian President Vladimir Putin has actually kidnapped Pavel Buchnevich. At the moment, the reason is unknown, but we have theorized that it has to do with Putin’s vision of recreating the dominant Soviet team from the 1970’s.
Buchnevich has not played a game for the New York Rangers since November, with the team placing the rookie on IR with “back spasms.” It looks like this was meant to be taken literally, as Buchnevich experienced a “spasm” so bad he’s “back” in Russia. Our source has stated he is chained to a radiator in his apartment, forced to eat beets, dill, and herring to stay healthy while being corralled to and from practice by an army of bodyguards.
No Ranger forward is more polarizing year after year than Rick Nash. Opinions on Nash range from best 5v5 forward on the team to terrible and needs to be traded. It’s a little entertaining to see the back-and-forth regarding Nash, but it’s tough to argue that Nash hasn’t been one of the best forwards on the club this year.
Through 29 games, Nash has a line of 13-7-20, and is on pace for a 30-goal season. He’s tied with Michael Grabner for the team lead in goals, and is fourth on the team in points. He’s also tied for the team lead in PPG (4) and PPP (6). All this while missing four games due to injury.
Brady Skjei’s first NHL goal, with celebration.
Hopefully the Rangers won’t have considered shopping JT Miller, Kevin Hayes or any of the ‘core’ kids to help address the team’s obvious flaws but one player who has constantly been touted as a trade chip has been Oscar Lindberg. Thanks to the way the Rangers have utilised Lindberg it’s hard to see any kind package involving Lindberg bringing back any meaningful return.
Yes, Alain Vigneault has openly preached patience with Lindberg (and rightly so) as he came back from a significant injury but the fact Vigneault has prioritised Matt Puempel and Josh Jooris is bad roster management. Neither player likely offer the Rangers more upside than Lindberg whether that is as a trade piece or part of the current roster set up. The fact that Vigneault sees Jesper Fast as a top six winger but keeps Lindberg in street clothes is also baffling even though Fast and Lindberg’s respective destinies should not be directly linked. Fast indeed, has certainly deserved to stay in the line-up despite being misused.
The Rangers have been the definition of inconsistency recently, going 4-4-1, as the team noticeably took a step back after its hot start to the season. During that start the Rangers were arguably led not by Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash and Derek Stepan but by their kids; most notably Jimmy Vesey, Kevin Hayes and JT Miller.
What we’re seeing right now is all three players go through some growing pains, inconsistent form and quite simply stretches of games where the puck doesn’t go in for them. This isn’t time for panic however. Far from it in fact and this despite Hayes being pointless in four, Miller goalless in six and Vesey with one goal since November 13.
The Rangers can probably tolerate one blueliner playing poorly until they finally decide to amend their blueline closer to the trade deadline, a time when cap space is likely to be plentiful and when the typical NYC obsession with acquiring a big name will take over Jeff Gorton. What they cannot afford is to have multiple liabilities on the back end, particularly on a unit that cannot move the puck as it is and on a unit, that is seemingly playing worse in its own zone as the season progresses.
Kevin Klein has truly come back down to earth and is nowhere near the player the Rangers have enjoyed over the past couple of seasons. His form with and without the puck is becoming a serious problem for the Rangers. With his unsustainable level of offense now a memory, Klein is standing out more for his multiple turnovers, poor positional play and general incompetence on the ice. His indecisiveness and hesitation on the puck right in front of Henrik Lundqvist against the ‘Canes – that led to Viktor Stalberg’s goal – was typical of the Klein we’ve seen this season more often than not.