It’s trade season, and that means everyone and their mother has an idea of what the Rangers should do in order to improve the team. Whether this means buying, selling, or standing pat, we’ve all entertained various thoughts in our heads as to what could, should, or might happen.
Last week I wrote about how perspective matters and on the most recent podcast we talked with Sean Hartnett about how close this team is to contending (with the always intelligent Hartnett offering his opinion that the Rangers are a “tier 2” contender, just below the level of say, the Penguins). Prior to that I had written about how the Rangers could improve this blue line, floating the idea of acquiring Cody Franson and waiting until the summer for Kevin Shattenkirk. Some recent developments however, have changed my mind.
Some interesting tidbits coming up today for the Rangers, per Chris Nichols. First is that they are still hovering around Kevin Shattenkirk, but the price is way too high for the Rangers right now. There is a rumor that the Blues/Lightning were talking about Tyler Johnson in this kind of swap. If that’s true, the price on the Rangers’ end would be someone you don’t want to part with for a rental, even if he’s likely to re-sign in New York.
If Shattenkirk doesn’t come to New York, then Nichols, citing Darren Dreger, thinks the Rangers are targeting Brendan Smith of the Red Wings. Smith is a solid defensive guy, great at suppressing shots. He’s also a pending UFA, so the cost should be less. He’s a lefty though, so some lineup tinkering would need to be done. He’s capable of playing both sides, though.
Smith is a shrewd pickup at the right price. If the Rangers go this way, my guess is that he or Brady Skjei goes to the right side and Kevin Klein goes to the press box. But that’s just my assumption.
It was another goalie duel last night, as Henrik Lundqvist and Frederik Andersen made difficult saves look routine on a regular basis. Both goalies allowed just one in regulation, and neither stood a chance on those goals. Both were magnificent in overtime as well, stopping chance after chance. It was marvelous to watch.
Aside from the goalies, Rick Nash was a machine again as he generated a lot of scoring chances. None found twine, but that’s more due to Andersen’s excellence. Honestly, I’m just going to gush over the goaltender performances in this game. As a goalie, it was so much fun watching this game and watching these two battle it out. If the Rangers do meet the Leafs in the playoffs, then it will be one for the ages.
On to the goals: Read More→
The Rangers are in Toronto tonight, taking on a very potent Leafs team that has some solid scoring talent. The Rangers caught a break, as Mitch Marner is not in the lineup, but the Leafs are still one of the better offensive teams in the league. They are certainly high-event, like the Rangers, so this should be a back and forth type of game.
Alain Vigneault made one lineup change, subbing in Brandon Pirri for Pavel Buchnevich. The goal is to jump-start the powerplay, which has been in a slump lately. It also helps to get Pirri some game time, since he hasn’t played all month. It’s a switch that doesn’t move the needle much for one game, but certainly has fans up in arms.
Alain Vigneault has made one lineup change tonight, and it is going to upset a few people. Brandon Pirri will be back in the lineup for the first time since January 31, while Pavel Buchnevich will sit as a healthy scratch.
AV mentioned that Pirri will be used on the powerplay as an attempt to get some life back into the unit, as it has been struggling of late. That said, one of their better puck movers is still stapled to the press box.
Buchnevich was a healthy scratch against the Islanders last week, and then played in the two following games.
The trade deadline is one week away, and the rumors are surprisingly quiet. I expect it will pick up over the weekend and as we get closer to Tuesday/Wednesday. The Rangers are not really in many rumors at the moment, but that I also expect to change as the trade winds pick up.
In case you revived the dead horse, the Rangers need defensive help. And if you did revive the dead horse, you now have a zombie horse. It’s your fault when the zombie apocalypse happens. Jerk. Enjoy your final trade deadline musings before packs of zombie horses eat you.
Jeff Gorton has done a masterful job remaking the Rangers’ forward corps and deserves full credit for that.
But as the trade deadline closes in without any apparent blueline solutions on the horizon that don’t cost an arm and a leg, it’s fair to ask – what was the plan on defense?
The decision to let Keith Yandle walk was puzzling, but with Yandle having a poor year and his not insignificant contract, we’ve largely given Gorton a pass on that.
And indeed, the acquisition of Nick Holden has worked out marvelously. Paying a mere fourth-round pick for arguably New York’s second-best D-man was a coup.
But here’s the key question: was that it?
Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price lived up to their reputations, making life difficult for scorers as they both made difficult saves look routine. The Rangers never led in regulation, coming from behind twice to force overtime. But in the extra period, tied 2-2, it was the Carey Price show. Price made several wonderful stops, keeping the Rangers from winning it before the Habs could take the extra point in the shootout.
For a potential –and I think it is the most likely scenario– first round matchup, this game had a little bit of everything. It was certainly a strong game by two teams just below the upper echelon of teams chasing the Cup. Perhaps it was just me, but this seemed like a relatively clean game by both teams. Neither team was overly sloppy, although there were some bad penalties. But overall a fun game to watch. The Rangers just lost the coin flip this time around.
On to the goals:
The Rangers have won seven of eight, and are now hosting their likely first round opponent in Montreal tonight. Montreal is fresh off a coaching change, swapping out Michel Therrien for Claude Julien. That’s a major upgrade for them.
It’s tough to predict how Julien’s Habs are going to play, but looking at the lineups it appears the Rangers probably have the edge on paper. The Habs are certainly a top-heavy flawed team being carried by their goaltender, much like Rangers teams of the past. I honestly don’t remember any time where Lundqvist vs. Price turned into a goalie showdown. Would love to see one.
This offseason, head coach Alain Vigneault said the plan was to get defenseman Dan Girardi some rest from time to time. The idea made sense, as Girardi played most of last season with a fractured kneecap, and was just downright awful. This was on top of his declining play becoming the focal point among fans. After all, keeping Girardi fresh is the best way to get the best hockey out of him as he ages.
However through this point of the season, Girardi has been a healthy scratch for rest just once. It has showed in his on-ice performance, as he simply can’t keep up with the opposition’s top skaters. But that hasn’t stopped AV from dressing him nightly. He was asked about this after practice on Saturday, and his answer clued us into what his approach will be going forward.