Last night, we saw the Rangers nine game win streak come to an end. It was a bit ugly and frustrating, but whatever. It’s hard to complain about winning nine of ten (note: analyzing is not complaining). Since it’s Friday afternoon before a holiday week, and we will be right back to the grind tomorrow night, I thought I’d bring some levity to your last work day.
There has been tons or articles over the past couple years highlighting the different archetypes of beer league players (seriously, Google it), but I have never seen one from a goalie’s perspective. If you’re a beer league player, laugh and nod your head along with me, if not, just a quick glimpse of what you are getting into if you decide to lace ‘em up with some of the game’s finest. Read More→
The Tampa Bay Lightning ended the New York Rangers’ winning streak with a late shorthanded goal. Valtteri Filpulla and J.T. Brown hooked up for the winner with a minute remaining in the game with Brian Boyle in the box. Dominic Moore tied the game late with a solid individual effort, and the game looked like it was swinging in their favor after the Boyle penalty. But that’s how dangerous the Lightning can be.
This was a battle of two teams that may very well meet in the Eastern Conference Final again this season. You are looking at two of the top four in the East, and Tampa was without half of their forwards for this game.
The Rangers are in Tampa tonight to take on the defending Eastern Conference champion Lightning. The Bolts bested the Rangers in seven games last season, sending the Rangers home in crushing fashion. But the Bolts the Rangers are facing today are just a shell of the lineup they dressed in May. They are missing Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Cedric Paquette, and Jonathan Drouin. Ryan Callahan is also a game-time decision.
Tonight’s game is another test for the Rangers during their impressive streak. They are seeking their tenth win in a row and seeking at least a point in their 14th straight game (11-0-2). That’s one amazing run the Rangers are on. Racking up this many points early is something we aren’t used to seeing in New York.
Per Andrew Gross, Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle is considering retirement at the end of this season. This should come as no surprise, as Boyle is 39 years old and has stated he wants to spend more time with his family. Boyle also said that this is not a physical issue, it’s mental. He wants to be with his young daughters.
Last week, Josh added a new feature to the blog called QMJHL career trends. Using that feature, you could select a prospect in the QMJHL and see how he has improved throughout his career in the league. Today, Josh has added the same feature for the WHL and OHL.
The Rangers have four prospects in the WHL: Keegan Iverson, Ryan Gropp, Brad Morrison, and Sergey Zborovskiy. They also have two in the OHL: Ryan Mantha and Brandon Halverson. They have none in the QMJHL.
Be sure to check them out. They are solid tools to see how a prospect has been playing throughout his career before he winds up with the Rangers organization.
Concussions are one of the most serious and pressing issues in contemporary sports, with hockey being no exception. Concussions can have both short term effects, causing painful symptoms and leading to missed games for players, as well as longer term and sometimes much more tragic consequences. Treating and preventing concussions is one of the foremost challenges of today’s game, and I recently had the privilege of attending an event where a new collar like piece of equipment potentially revolutionizing the field of concussion prevention was unveiled.
The event was held by Performance Sports Group, a sport equipment company whose brands include Easton and Bauer. The presentation began with a short video about the symptoms and effects of concussions, including testimonial from Marc Staal about his experiences with concussions. Kevin Davis, the CEO of Performance Sports then gave a short speech on his company’s focus on innovation and safety not just at the professional level but also amateur and youth levels as well, before ceding the stage to Dr Julian Bailes, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and Co-Director of the NorthShore University HealthSystem Neurological Institute. Dr. Bailes, who will be played by Alec Baldwin in the upcoming movie Concussion, then began to explain the science behind the new device.
The Rangers are off to their best start in history, but yet there is that sneaking suspicion that all is not well in Rangerland. Both Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Raanta have been forced to make highlight reel saves on a regular basis. Defensemen are getting burned to the outside, are getting caught out of position, and are hemorrhaging shots against at an alarming rate. When the SV% comes back down to Earth, and it will, the Rangers may find themselves losing games they should win.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a playoff team with elite goaltending and forward depth that is envied across the league. They are one of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference right now, up there with Montreal, Tampa Bay, and Washington. Any of those four can come out of the East. Wild cards like Pittsburgh and the Islanders also make things interesting.
Since the East is going to be a dog fight, the Rangers need to do everything possible to improve their performance on the ice and give themselves the best chance at winning that elusive Stanley Cup. That includes improving upon their bottom-third score-adjusted possession rate.
Just two questions this week in the mailbag. You can submit questions for mailbags via the form on the right.
Michael: A couple days ago someone asked what was the link between zone start percentage and Corsi. So i got all the data from War on ice for each individual player for this season plotted relative zone start percentage vs Corsi for and fit a line on the data. Nothing mind blowing but thought it would be interesting to share with you guys. As one might expect better o zone starts leads to better possession numbers.
The Rangers have placed defenseman Peter Zamorsky on unconditional waivers to terminate his contract. Zamorsky was signed as an undrafted free agent out of the Czech league in June of 2014. Zamorsky never made the cut for the Rangers, and was getting passed on the depth chart by guys like Brady Skjei and Ryan Graves. Zamorsky will return to the Czech Republic, and he will be removed from the reserve list.
The Rangers also placed goalie Cedrick Desjardins on regular waivers, and he will be sent to the AHL. Desjardins was injured, so he couldn’t be waived prior to today.
Richard Nejezchleb was sent down to the ECHL as well.
Last week, the Detroit Red Wings signed winger Justin Abdelkader to a whopping seven year extension that comes with a cap hit of $4.25 million per season. Abdelkader was set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season, the final year of his four-year deal. His cap hit was $1.8 million, but this season he made $2.25 million. The 28-year-old winger has just one 20-goal season under his belt and sports a career line of 66-74-140 in 415 games. This contract puts him in Mats Zuccarello territory.
This leads us to Chris Kreider, who is going to be a restricted free agent after this season. While not direct comparables, the Abdelkader contract can be used as a reference point for Kreider’s agent in negotiations*. Kreider is four years younger, already has a 20-goal season under his belt, and has been a consistent presence in the top-six for the past two seasons.
*-The Abdelkader contract cannot be used as a comparable in arbitration, but can be used by his agent in negotiations outside of arbitration.