Archive for Defense

nick holden

Jeff Gorton’s main focus this offseason was retooling the blue line. He did so with what amounted to a major overhaul. Dan Girardi was bought out and essentially replaced with Kevin Shattenkirk. Anthony DeAngelo was brought in as a result of the blockbuster trade involving Derek Stepan. Kevin Klein retired. Brendan Smith was re-signed. And the Rangers inked two solid undrafted free agents in Alexei Bereglazov and Nick Pionk. All in all, the Rangers will have a vastly improved blue line this season.

However there are still many questions on the blue line. As we all pencil in Shattenkirk alongside Ryan McDonagh, some of us are left to wonder if that is truly the top pairing. As Brady Skjei is penciled into the 2LD spot, some wonder if that is still Marc Staal’s spot to lose. Many of these questions are aimed at the coaching staff, as Gorton has certainly done his job.

Read More→

Categories : Defense
Comments (60)

kevin shattenkirk

Last summer Jeff Gorton made the Rangers into one of the most dynamic scoring machines in the league. The forwards were vastly improved and they could seemingly score at will. But that dried up against the good teams in the playofs because the defense simply couldn’t keep up. That made Gorton’s for this summer goal clear: Fix the defense.

By buying out Dan Girardi, essentially replacing him with Kevin Shattenkirk, and re-signing Brendan Smith, the Rangers have what could potentially be the best top-four in the Metro Division. A potential pairing of Shattenkirk with Ryan McDonagh also gives the Rangers what could be a top pairing that is top-five in the league. No hyperbole.

Read More→

Categories : Defense
Comments (83)

nick holden

The performance of the Rangers’ defensive pairs has been a pain point for many this playoff season. Most Ranger fans agree that the Nick Holden/Marc Staal pair has been awful (I’ve written many words about them). That the Brendan Smith/Brady Skjei pair has been solid (and them). That Dan Girardi, while not exactly amazing, has had a better playoffs than anticipated. And Ryan McDonagh is awesome.

But is that really true?

The playoffs are a whole difference animal, where PDO has a huge impact on how we perceive performance. In the playoffs, which are essentially four mini seasons of seven games, you’re better off being lucky than good. Poor results overshadow great process. And great results overshadow poor process. There simply isn’t enough time for the numbers to correct themselves. It skews how we view success, and it’s completely expected.

Read More→

Categories : Analysis, Defense, Playoffs
Comments (27)
ryan mcdonagh

Photo: Winslow Townson/AP

The final preview piece for the first round is one that is sure to decide the series, and that is the blue line. The Rangers have had issues with their defensive units all year long, but added Brendan Smith at the deadline. The Habs, who did not have such issues,  added Nikita Nesterov and Jordie Benn at the deadline, moves which improved their depth.

The Habs are projected to have the following pairs for the playoffs:

Shea Weber-Andrei Markov
Alexei Emelin-Jeff Petry
Jordie Benn-Nathan Beaulieu

Read More→

Categories : Defense, Playoffs
Comments (12)
Mar
24

Dan Girardi back in lineup, on top pair

Posted by: | Comments (11)

Per Larry Brooks, Dan Girardi is back in the lineup. He is practicing on the top pair with Ryan McDonagh. Marc Staal and Nick Holden are back together. Brady Skjei and Brendan Smith are the third pair. Adam Clendening and Steve Kampfer are the scratches.

This is what we expected from Alain Vigneault, as disappointing as it is. At this point it’s beyond the players, it’s on the coach. These are not the optimal pairs for a team that wants to succeed in the playoffs.

Who knows? Maybe this is just a one game thing before AV tinkers more. But I’m not optimistic. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Categories : Defense
Comments (11)

Ryan McDonagh has regained his status as one of the league’s elite defensemen

In hindsight, the 7-6 circus loss to the Dallas Stars on January 17 might have been the low-water mark of the 2016-2017 season for the Rangers. That marked the third time in 11 games the club yielded as many as seven goals and the Blueshirts were mired in a stretch of atrocious defensive play that made playoff contention seem comical.

But since that night, New York has given up four goals or more only six times in 27 games, and just twice surrendered as many as five.

In fact, the Rangers have allowed just 64 goals over that timeframe – a stingy 2.37 goals-against per game, which would rank fourth in the league if it were the team’s season-long rate.

Read More→

Categories : Defense
Comments (28)
dan girardi

Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America

The Rangers haven’t had a fully healthy defensive unit for some time now. Kevin Klein has been out with a nagging back injury, and Dan Girardi has been out with an ankle injury. We haven’t heard any news about them skating in practice yet, so it’s safe to say the Rangers are taking their time and not rushing either veteran back into the lineup.

With the new luxury of being able to rest some players without really impacting playoff seeding, Alain Vigneault has a rare opportunity to evaluate the current six-some on defense and see if and where Girardi/Klein can slide in when healthy. Emphasis here is on if.

Read More→

Categories : Defense
Comments (7)
Jan
28

Revamping this defense

Posted by: | Comments (77)
ryan mcdonagh

Photo: Winslow Townson/AP

It’s no secret that defense is the big problem area for the New York Rangers. Fans know it, pundits know it, and by the sound of things GM Jeff Gorton knows it. This defensive corps is simply not fit to contend for a Cup, and has held back an otherwise talented forward group as the team gets hemmed in its own end and struggles to complete successful breakouts.

Revamping this defense is Gorton’s number one priority as he heads into the trade deadline and the offseason, and as I hinted at in this week’s post about my dream acquisition, it’s something that’s been on my mind as well. I’ve given some thought to how the Rangers might go about fixing things, and hopefully they can do so without losing too much of their offensive mojo. How might they go about ameliorating the present situation you ask? Hold onto your butts.

Read More→

Categories : Defense
Comments (77)
Jan
10

Midseason report cards: The defense

Posted by: | Comments (65)
ryan mcdonagh kevin klein

Photo: MSG

With the Rangers on their bye week, which was perfectly timed with the halfway point of the season, we are afforded the opportunity to evaluate the Rangers with nothing else going on. Midseason report cards have been a bit of a tradition here at BSB, so let’s keep that tradition going, shall we?

Over the next few days, each of us will be tackling a different aspect of the team, and assigning grades accordingly. I’m batting leadoff here, and I’m going to be discussing the most polarizing aspect of this year’s team: The defense.

Overall, the back line for the Rangers has been relatively bad. The combination of age, injuries, wear and tear, and a shift towards speed has made what was once a strong defense into a bottom-five unit in the league. The slow start by Henrik Lundqvist exposed the defense even more. But it’s not all bad, either.

Read More→

Categories : Defense
Comments (65)

alain vigneault

Boy, the Rangers play two mediocre games and all of a sudden the world is ending. The focus, as always, has been on the defense. But let’s be clear here. We all knew the defense was in need of an upgrade before the season started. The major problem lies on the right side, where Dan Girardi plays top pairing minutes and Kevin Klein has been bouncing between second and third pair. Brady Skjei has moved to that side to try to stabilize everything.

Dylan McIlrath wasn’t the answer. Adam Clendening may or may not be a viable bottom-pairing guy, and we won’t know until he’s in the lineup more consistently. Alain Vigneault is going to lean on his guys until major roster decisions are made down the road. So let’s try to get into AV’s head and understand why he’s making the decisions he’s making, instead of just bashing him or the players blindly.

Read More→

Categories : Defense, Rants
Comments (19)