Kevin Klein is officially out indefinitely with a fractured thumb. Klein suffered the injury late in the third period of last night’s game on a hit from Reid Boucher. The hit wasn’t dirty, but Klein landed awkwardly on his hand.
It is expected that Dylan McIlrath will play in his place, and no call ups will be made.
The Rangers’ first game back from the break was a real back and forth matchup against near their near rivals the New Jersey Devils. J.T. Miller continued with the strong play he demonstrated before the recess, gaining the zone with ease, driving to the net, and scoring two nice goals. Despite this and other solid efforts from players like Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, and Viktor Stalberg, it wasn’t enough to power past the Devils, with a bad goal given up by Dan Girardi taking away the Rangers’ lead just after Miller’s second put them up a goal.
Special teams proved to be the difference in this game with the Rangers going 0 for 4 on the power play, with the Devils’ game winner coming on their man-advantage. This Rangers loss now puts them only two points ahead of the Devils, and the blueshirts will have to be better if they expect that gap to widen as opposed to shrink, with the two teams meeting twice more this month.
No gifs in the post today, but you can view them all at Ryan Ohanesian’s timeline here.
Rangers 1 Devils 0
The All Star break is over, and now begins the playoff push for the Rangers. They’ve been playing better of late, 6-3-1 in their last ten, but the overall performance has still left something to be desired. The process is certainly better on the ice, and the forwards have been better as well, but defensive issues remain.
This is a rather important game for the Rangers, as the Devils are four points behind the Blueshirts, but the Rangers have a game in hand. A regulation win makes it a six point cushion with a game in hand –potentially eight point lead– which is almost insurmountable with the three-point game system we have today.
The Rangers are entering a crossroads for their farm system this summer. They have 18 players in Hartford/Greenville that will have their contracts expire at the end of the season. Some of those players are household names that have been in the organization for a while, some are guys on their ELCs that haven’t panned out.
Some of the younger players will be re-signed, either as hopes that they pan out or just to fill roster spots. There are also guys that are expected to be signed to their ELCs (Pavel Buchnevich, Boo Nieves, Steven Fogarty). But with the slew of veterans that are likely leaving Hartford, there will be a bunch of roster spots open.
It’s amazing how quickly public opinion can turn on a player. Last year Kevin Hayes could do no wrong, aside from faceoffs. This year, he’s the worst player on the team and needs to be traded. I find this to be humorous, because these are not only opposite ends of the spectrum, but incorrect talent evaluations. It’s one made from subjectivity, not objectivity.
In reality, Kevin Hayes is just fine. Hayes has seen better performance in relative Corsi (up to 3.0 from 2.2 last season), shots on goal (on pace for 144 this season, to 111 last season), and assists (on pace for 30 assists to 25 last year). People are focusing on his seven goals, which is down from last year. But in reality, I think it’s just unrealistic expectations that are causing all this unwarranted hate.
Chris Kreider has approached a crossroads in his Rangers career. Kreider has the opportunity to make himself either untouchable (and in line for a new fat contract) or very quickly place himself in the cross hairs of General Manager Jeff Gorton as the team approach the trade deadline.
One assumes that the Rangers (whether you like it or not) are likely to be buyers at the deadline. They need to add to the core if they’re going to have realistic designs on a deep playoff run and with draft picks at a premium it’s likely to be young roster players that are the focus of any potential trading partners. There’s a handful of underperforming players on the roster at the moment and teams covet upside – particularly upside that’s attached to an expiring contract.
Below you’ll find episode 4 of our weekly podcast, the Blue Seat Blogs-cast! We hope you enjoy this weeks prospect roundup with Josh, whose stats projects and other work can be found here. As always you can find us here at Blue Seat Blogs, on iTunes, and on Soundcloud.
The first half of the 2015-2016 season for the Rangers can only be described as a roller coaster. They stormed out of the gate with three quick wins before going 0-2-1 to level expectations. Then came the run that no one could have predicted, going 13-1-1 over the next 15 games to start the season at 16-3-2, a team record. Then came the fall, as the Rangers went 3-9-2 over their next 14, literally crashing down to Earth.
The process was terrible throughout, but the recent games from the end of December through January have been cause for hope. The process is improving, and the team has started to turn it around, going 6-3-1 in their last ten games. But like every team not based in Washington D.C., there are a few questions that the Rangers will need to find answers for heading into the second half of the season.
The East won the Skills Competition last night, with full results here. The highlight was definitely P.K. Subban donning a Panthers jersey/mullet wig and doing his best Jaromir Jagr impression, complete with the salute. Ryan McDoangh participated in the Skills Challenge Relay, with his team losing his heat.
Today is the 3-on-3 tournament by division, with the winning teams in the opening round playing once more in the finals. Use this as your open thread to discuss the skills competition, the game, or anything else you want.
There are a whole load of questions (and moving parts) when it comes to how the Rangers approach the trade deadline in February. One player who could have an indirect impact is top prospect Pavel Buchnevich.
The Rangers top forward prospect has developed incredibly well over the past two seasons in the KHL. Buchnevich quickly became Severstal’s best forward, breaking scoring records for a teenager along the way – besting Vladimir Tarasenko’s previous scoring mark. He earned himself a move to the powerhouse SKA club where he has more than held his own on a stacked hockey club. Even with less ice time than at Severstal, Buchnevich is making an impact.