Archive for State of the Rangers

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Quite a bit has happened since I penned this piece back at the end of December about Henrik Lundqvist’s workload.  At the time, the Rangers were sitting in fourth place in the Metro division, with a semi-comfortable grasp on a playoff spot and only four points out of first place in the division.  They were sitting in the first wild card position, with a healthy Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Kreider.  Lundqvist was on pace for 68 starts.

Since then, Shattenkirk has been knocked out of the lineup with a knee injury that required surgery (and basically every other defenseman, for that matter), Chris Kreider was diagnosed with a blood clot disorder that also required rib surgery.  The Rangers have plummeted in the standings and now sit in last place in the Metro.  Management has even come around, essentially preparing the fan base for a rebuild and writing a memo and holding a press conference signally that the team would be selling at the deadline.  Lundqvist is still on pace for 68 starts. Read More→

Categories : Goaltending
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(JUSTIN TASCH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

In case you missed it, yesterday saw some significant happenings in Rangerland.  First, the Rangers placed Brendan Smith on waivers and called up Neal Pionk.  Soon after, Jeff Gorton and Glen Sather showed up at practice and issued a joint statement about the future of the franchise.  There was a tepid (re: non-existent) endorsement about AV’s future and much Twitter ink spilled about what it all means.  As you can imagine, I have some thoughts…

1. If you read the memo that the Rangers organization released, a couple of things jump out. First, it seems the organization is trying to gauge fan reaction to the notion of a rebuild.  There is enough qualifying language and vague platitudes in the memo to reverse course if the reaction to the release was pure outrage at abandoning a season where they aren’t completely out of it.  Read More→

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In early December, I made my maiden voyage to MSG to the first-ever boxing match between two time Olympic gold medalists. The historic Vasyl Lomanchenko-Guiellermo Rigondeaux fight was supposed to be a high-speed chess match between two of the world’s top fighters. It was instead, a bloodletting. The younger and much faster Lomanchenko peppered Rigondeaux so thoroughly for 6 rounds that “The Jackal” made up an injury and refused to fight any longer.

You see where I’m going here.

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Feb
02

Trading Lundqvist is a fool’s errand

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Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

With the possibility of the Rangers selling for the first time in forever coming more acutely possible, the focus from the fan base has understandably turned to hypothetical returns for the teams’ more attractive trade chips.  Naturally, the logical discussions (many of which have been examined in this space) involve Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, Michael Grabner and Mats Zuccarello.  One target that a fairly vocal minority of the fan base has consistently brough up has been, oddly enough, Henrik Lundqvist.

Now, the reasons why Hank’s detractors (or trade advocates) feel moving the King would be a prudent move aren’t all that far-fetched.  He takes up a significant amount of cap space.  His overall performance has delayed a (probably necessary) rebuild longer than it should have taken.  The organization clearly wants to win as long as they have a generational talent on the roster, etc., etc.  These are valid opinions.

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alain vigneault

Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

For years now, the Rangers have tailored their system around quality over quantity. It was a little maddening watching the Rangers get out-shot on a game by game basis, but it worked. The Rangers had the skill to back it up, and their high SH% was no fluke. This drove regular season success, and helped them to a Stanley Cup Final and Conference Final.

Fast forward to this season, and it all seems to be coming apart. While most of this was expected on the defensive end, it’s the lack of goals that does come as a little bit of a surprise. The Rangers are still talented up front, but it seems to come in spurts. Lately, those spurts have been Rick Nash or bust. And there is a very clear reason for that as well. The system is not designed to handle a combination of injuries and lack of depth.

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Categories : Coaching
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Jan
14

Mid-Season Report Card: The Defense

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Welcome to this special place, Kevin

We’ve saved our best (worst) report card for last: the stellar defensive corps of the New York Rangers. I’ve been searching for the best string of analogies to explain how bad this defense has been. It’s similar to the DirecTV ad campaign… some people really just enjoy being in pain. And that’s us, wishing the Rangers would play well.

We’ll take a look at the seven gentlemen who defend our goaltenders through the 43 games played. Oh yes, 43, including the disaster that took place at the Garden yesterday. Keep in mind that this season started with the promise of a new day in the form of Kevin Shattenkirk supposedly playing with Ryan McDonagh. Lol.

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Categories : Defense
Comments (41)
Jan
13

Mid-season Report Card: Jeff Gorton

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msg networks.com

When I was in school I took a course pass fail. This turned out to be a good idea, because it was an incredibly demanding Latin American history course, and I was totally out of my depth, having just transferred from a fairly big state university where everything was large lectures to a small liberal arts school where classes were much more intimate, but I digress.

At the end of the semester I needed an extension on the final paper, and because of that I didn’t get the final word on whether I passed or failed when I was supposed to – I got an incomplete. If you can’t see where I’m going with this one already, just pretend that Jeff Gorton was me in Latin American History, and that his final evaluation is pending the completion of his work. That’s right, he’s getting an incomplete this semester.

There’s two ways you could really tackle this I think, and both lend themselves to this conclusion pretty well.

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Jan
12

Mid-season report card: the goalies

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Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

The Rangers went into this season with question marks surrounding both of their goaltenders.  Henrik Lundqvist was shaking off questions about an uncharacteristically poor season last year, and Ondrej Pavelec, Benoit Allaire’s latest pet project, had one foot out of the NHL.  There were good reasons for fans and pundits alike to be skeptical of the stability in the Ranger crease, especially with Lundqvist turning 36 this season and the ridiculously high-quality backup goaltenders the Rangers have had the past four years.

At the halfway mark of the season, it seems that many of those fears have been unfounded (mine included), as both goaltenders have been strong through the team’s first 42 games. Let’s a dig a little deeper at each of their respective performances, shall we?

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ryan mcdonagh

The Rangers have a problem on the blue line. We can spend years debating what the issue(s) is (are), but the fact remains that there is a problem. Be it personnel, coaching, or system, the problem exists. It is an undeniable fact, and has been for a few years now.

We’ve gone through many iterations of defense combos on the blue line in the first half of the season. The only fact we have come across in those 42 games is that the Blueshirts are going to stick with their current crop, and not call up any prospects to potentially be an upgrade (barring injury). So we are left with one option: Find the most effective pairs, and stick with them.

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Categories : Defense
Comments (13)

pavel buchnevich

The Rangers have hit the midseason point of the year, and have a perfectly timed bye week to celebrate. I say it is perfectly times because it gives us a chance to do all the report cards before the Rangers play another game. Rob did the top-six forwards on Saturday, I covered coaching earlier in the week, and now it’s time for the bottom-six forwards.

The Rangers have had a whole lot of players in the bottom six. But given who Rob covered in his post, let’s limit the bottom-six to the guys that he didn’t cover. I think that makes sense, right?

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Categories : Forwards
Comments (36)