After a roller coaster win against Carolina on Tuesday, the Rangers are looking to build on their strong third period against Buffalo. The Rangers erased a two goal lead and got off the schneid, so building some momentum will help get them moving in the right direction. The Sabres are the perfect team to do that against, as their defense is pretty bad. Might actually be worse than the Rangers.
But that’s why they play the games. The Sabres may be bad on defense and questionable in net, but they are skilled and deep at forward. They can easily exploit the Rangers defense as easily as the Rangers can exploit theirs. Banking points is important for the Rangers, but getting back to proper process –note: not banking the puck off the glass every single time they clear the defensive zone– is perhaps more important.
The Rangers can probably tolerate one blueliner playing poorly until they finally decide to amend their blueline closer to the trade deadline, a time when cap space is likely to be plentiful and when the typical NYC obsession with acquiring a big name will take over Jeff Gorton. What they cannot afford is to have multiple liabilities on the back end, particularly on a unit that cannot move the puck as it is and on a unit, that is seemingly playing worse in its own zone as the season progresses.
Kevin Klein has truly come back down to earth and is nowhere near the player the Rangers have enjoyed over the past couple of seasons. His form with and without the puck is becoming a serious problem for the Rangers. With his unsustainable level of offense now a memory, Klein is standing out more for his multiple turnovers, poor positional play and general incompetence on the ice. His indecisiveness and hesitation on the puck right in front of Henrik Lundqvist against the ‘Canes – that led to Viktor Stalberg’s goal – was typical of the Klein we’ve seen this season more often than not.
Fans have been clamoring for Clendo to get into the lineup for a while. It’s no surprise that it’s for Klein either, who has been struggling mightily all season. Let’s see what the kid can do.
We are 24 games into the season, and we’ve seen a Rangers team that has wowed us, depressed us and made us feel every feeling in between. No matter where you sit on the spectrum of the Rangers play, you are likely happy with the 16-7-1 start to the season. If not, then you are likely happy with the +29 goal differential thus far. If not, then well then I’m assuming you hate the coach.
We’ve seen enough of the Rangers that we can evaluate their performance and perhaps what’s to come for the rest of the season. Joe Fortunato did a wonderful job of reviewing if you should be worried about the club, something you should check out, and this is likely going to cover a lot of the same points. I had this post planned for today, so I’m going to write it anyway. Sue me Joe.
– There’s a lot of consternation over Adam Clendening’s lack of playing time. Ideally, he’d be in the lineup in place of Kevin Klein, but generally we as fans make way too big a deal over the guy in the press box. Rarely does that roster decision make or break a team. The bigger issue on defense continues to be the distribution of minutes within the existing top six and the need to add a real difference maker.
– With many of the once available trade targets now re-signed, the one big name still on the horizon is Kevin Shattenkirk. Yes, Dougie Hamilton can also be had, but he’d cost the Rangers a player they won’t give up. If GM Jeff Gorton wasn’t willing to build a package worthwhile for the Jets or Ducks, then I don’t think he’s prepared to give up J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes or Chris Kreider for Hamilton. And given the way this team has been winning on the back of its offense, that’s probably the right call.
– But as there have been for months and years, there remain loud whispers that Shattenkirk is eyeing New York. It’s hard to see a path to his services during this campaign, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel come July. Read More→
The Rangers beat the Hurricanes last night in a win that could be described in a few words – bizarre, ugly, concerning – but no matter what, a win is a win. This was a win the Rangers needed to turn around from the slight slump the top-scoring offense in the NHL needed, however strange and ugly that win may be.
Let’s take a period-by-period look at this game in bulleted form:
- Carolina opened the game with a ton of pressure, consistently swarming the Rangers when they’d make it to the offensive zone and forcing turnovers.
- Once trapped in their own zone, the Rangers main move was to attempt to chip the puck out to the neutral zone. When this worked, all it did was come right back in.
The Rangers are 2-3-1 in their last six games, and have played some pretty poor hockey in that stretch. They are dealing with injuries, but they are also dealing with a regressing blue line and regressing shooting, which is taking its toll on the offensive potential of the team. No matter which way you look at it, the Rangers need to play better.
Enter Carolina, who is very quietly just three points out of a playoff spot. It’s still very early, but it’s clear Carolina is moving in the right direction. Give them a halfway decent goaltender, and they might be a sneaky playoff team. They are able to move the puck well, but struggle a little to score (2.46 G/G). They have a -4 goal differential, but that is almost entirely on bad goaltending.
This is a perfect opportunity for the Rangers to get some confidence back by lighting up the Canes, but the last time we said this, they lost.
Regression is miserable to watch, and we are going through that misery right now. As Rangers fans, you’d think we were used to this by now, having gone through the exact same thing last year. Even though this year’s team is vastly improved and still a playoff team, there are some major problems on the blue line that have not been addressed. If the Rangers are to succeed beyond a being a one-and-done in the playoffs, things need to change.
The good news is that we’ve seen Alain Vigneault already make one adjustment on the blue line. Remember top pairing defenseman Nick Holden? He wasn’t being put in a position to succeed. He’s now on the third pair, and has been significantly better in that role. It’s time to make those adjustments for the rest of the lineup. These aren’t major moves either, it’s just a simple matter of tweaks before a potential upgrade arrives.
When the Rangers lost Mika Zibanejad to a broken leg, the Rangers lost perhaps the one forward that would be the most difficult to replace. Zibanejad is a unique forward for the Rangers not in production, but the curveball he throws to the opposition when matching up. The majority of the Rangers are left-handed, pass-first players. Zibanejad is the exact opposite as a right-handed, shoot-first player.
This is the kind of player that the Rangers sorely needed for the longest time, as he was the pure shooter the Rangers needed not only at even strength, but even more so on the powerplay. It was the most evident the other night against Ottawa, when the Rangers could get nothing going on with the man advantage.
In this week’s episode of the Blue Seat Blogs-cast we discuss different ways to interpret wins, what it might take to pry Dougie Hamilton away from the Calgary Flames, and answer some listener questions. As always you can find us right here, on SoundCloud, and on iTunes.