Archive for Forwards

filip chytil

The Rangers need a center. That part we know. It’s something that has been known for quite some time, actually. Jeff Gorton sent Derek Stepan to Arizona and failed to replace him. David Desharnais was a shot in the dark that, while a low risk move, has worked somewhat, hasn’t been a replacement for Stepan.

All in all, Gorton replaced Stepan with Desharnais. Filip Chytil was initially given the role, but was sent to the AHL after two games and nine minutes of playing time. With the flu bugging Boo Nieves –and Paul Carey being his replacement– the dire need for a center has intensified.

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Categories : Forwards
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Can Detroit and the Rangers help each other?

This post was written a few days ago. Since then, the beat writers have bemoaned the lack of center depth, AV has gone crazy with his line combinations and the Rangers threw up a stinker to the Devils (I fear for the Rangers against the Pens as I schedule this post…). So without further ado, back to one potential external center solution?

The Rangers inability (or stubbornness?) to properly address the center position prior to the new season has definitely had an impact on their uneven start to the season, even if more of the blame can/should be rested squarely at the feet of Alain Vigneault and his now borderline inexplicable coaching decisions (please, no more Steven Kampfer).

What makes the Rangers struggles at center even more frustrating is that there are very legitimate, indeed enticing, options outside of the organisation. Are ten days into a season too early to make a external move? Well clearly not, as the club deemed it appropriate to pick up journeyman depth player Adam Cracknell. Yay.

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mika zibanejad

It’s been an interesting start to the season, hasn’t it? Jeff Gorton and Alain Vigneault have toyed with our emotions, albeit inadvertently, with their roster decisions. The team has toyed with our emotions by scoring a ton, not scoring ever, and playing a combination of great defense and Swiss cheese defense. All in all, it’s been one of the more entertaining starts to the season since the 2013-2014 season. You know, the one where Tomas Hertl deked Martin Biron into retirement.

The main positive that has been the focus of attention has been Mika Zibanejad. With five goals this season, Zibanejad has opened this season the way he did last year before breaking his leg. He’s seemed to have found a home in the Ovi spot on the powerplay, and with Kevin Shattenkirk feeding him one-timers, he’s poised for a big year.

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Categories : Forwards
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Aug
05

Options at Center

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jt miller

Trading Derek Stepan and losing Oscar Lindberg to Vegas sent a shockwave through the Rangers lineup this offseason, leaving two major holes at center and turning what was one of the Blueshirts’ biggest strengths into what could be their biggest weakness. Although the Rangers did acquire David Desharnais to help fill a bottom six role there remains one slot at center to be filled, and I thought it would be a good idea on this hot summer day to sketch out some of the options the team has for filling that gap.

The first is trading for a top-six center. The most obvious name on the market is Matt Duchene but unfortunately you’ve got to give to get. Still, considering the Rangers’ considerable depth on wing and new found glut of defensive prospects, theres pieces in place to make a deal happen. I still think this one is unlikely to happen, but it’s certainly a possibility.

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May
20

Lindberg? Hayes? Why not both?

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oscar lindberg kevin hayes henrik lundqvist

With the expansion draft looming, there’s naturally going to be a lot of talk and speculation about who the Rangers are going to lose to Las Vegas. It’s certainly not fun envisioning one of our beloved Blueshirts in Vegas Gold/Black/Whatever, but it’s just the reality of the situation. Among the most likely candidates to be chosen are Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast, and Michael Grabner.

Now, I’m going to focus primarily on Lindberg in this post, because there’s been some buzz lately about the season he’s had compared to Kevin Hayes. Their respective numbers are pretty comparable this past season, with Hayes actually posting slightly worse numbers than Lindberg in G/60, P1/60, relCF%, relGF%, and relxGF%. This is certainly concerning, and isn’t the kind of thing we want to see, but I think it’s fair to throw some cold water on all the talk about Lindberg and Hayes.

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Apr
25

Rangers vs. Senators – Forwards Preview

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JUSTIN TANG / THE CANADIAN PRESS

It’s been well-documented at this point that the Rangers ousted the Canadiens in the first round by prioritizing skill throughout their lineup at forward.  Montreal was a well-coached team with outstanding goaltending, but they were simply unable to match New York’s depth.

Though they employ a structured, defensive style of hockey, the Ottawa Senators pose a very different challenge for the Rangers to deal with in the second round of the playoffs.  Head coach Guy Boucher is well-known for not just his neutral zone trap, but also juggling his lines.

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Categories : Forwards, Playoffs
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Apr
16

Optimizing the Rangers Lineup

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It’s playoff time, and that means over-analyzing absolutely everything there is to analyze about hockey. Whether it’s a particular goal, a bad call, or the decision to play Nick Holden and Marc Staal in the twilight of a close game, it all deserves our intense scrutiny because well, we’re talking about a chance at a Stanley Cup here. One thing that’s especially crucial in the playoffs, and thus warranting our obsessive analysis, is chemistry.

A couple of weeks back the excellent Ryan Stimson put up a piece on just that. For those of you who don’t know, Stimson runs the Passing Project, which is an effort to track passes that take place during hockey games in order to better understand the little things that make a big difference over the course of a season. While the Passing Project doesn’t quite have every game tracked, they do have a substantial amount of work done already (almost 900 games) and Ryan’s work is worth your attention. The piece can be found over on hockey-graphs.com, and I highly recommend you read it. Read More→

Categories : Analysis, Forwards
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pavel buchnevich jimmy vesey

Photo Credit: AP / Jim Mone

Over the weekend, Alain Vigneault decided to put Pavel Buchnevich, Oscar Lindberg, and Jimmy Vesey together on the fourth line. The trio clicked immediately, despite some concerns they might be defensively deficient. It provides even more evidence to support the speed/skill fourth line over grit/toughness.

Now don’t get me wrong, every team needs snarl. We got a little bit of that last night with a good Old Time Hockey brawl. It wasn’t a staged fight. It was one of passion that involved Vesey dropping the gloves, teamed with Brendan Smith and Nick Holden against three Devils. That same Vesey has been involved in a few other tussles this season.

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Categories : Forwards
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Mar
20

The benefits of scoring and skill depth

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pavel buchnevich

Bruce Bennet/Getty Images

It’s no secret that I am a big proponent of four skill lines that can put the puck in the net. If I haven’t come out and said it, it’s been implied in almost every post I’ve written about lineup decisions and forwards. The best teams in the league, the ones that are true Cup contenders, are ones that have four skill lines. And the reason is simple. Matchups.

The Rangers’ fourth line scored twice on Saturday against Minnesota –a game I did not watch, as I was at a wedding– while dressing three young skilled guys on that fourth line. It was the first game in a week where the most polarizing fourth line player in history (Tanner Glass) did not play. Jimmy Vesey and Oscar Lindberg scored. Lindberg and Pavel Buchnevich also had assists.

Adam Clendening, in for Steven Kampfer, also had an assist.

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Categories : Forwards
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Mar
16

Appreciating the Rangers’ scoring depth

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mika zibanejad

As the Rangers gear up for a playoff run, a lot of the focus has been on potential opponents and/or pending lineup decisions. But I want to take a step back and appreciate the big picture for a second. In September, we all thought the Rangers had no chance of being this good. If you had told me that Henrik Lundqvist would struggle for the first half of the season, I would have guessed the Rangers missed the playoffs.

But here we are, 90 points later and a virtual lock for the playoffs. The goaltending came around. The defense is pretty bad, but there have been bright spots and unexpected scoring sources. However it’s been the forwards carrying the load by outscoring the inconsistent goaltending and porous defense. It’s time we appreciate that depth.

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Categories : Forwards
Comments (39)