The New York Rangers are an incredible case study, I do not believe that there has ever been a team with such stark differences regarding the talent level between the offense and the defense. The offense is so deep that we may as well call our forwards Mariana. Tje defense… eh I don’t have to say anything.
In the grand scheme of things, especially seeing the moves that GM Jeff Gorton made over the summer, I still consider this season to be a transition season, and it hasn’t been as bad on the eyes as last year so that’s always fun. The Rangers’ possession numbers aren’t something to be thrilled about though, and while the defense has been a focal point of the issues that we have faced, I think there are some things that may at least be worth trying to maximize the potential of our offense.
It’s that time of the year. Teams are jockeying for playoff spots, trying to identify their team needs for the stretch run. Non-playoff teams are starting to pool offers for rentals. Buyers are trying to figure out what they can part with. Trade deadline rumors are abound.
For the Rangers, every rumor worth reading has them linked to a defenseman. I say “worth reading” because there were one or two rumors that said they want a forward. Considering the depth they have, I don’t buy those. Just looking at the teams solid offense and porous defense shows that they need help on the blue line. But with all the names that have been dropped, the one thing we have yet to hear is what the Rangers are willing to give up.
Late last week, we learned that Mats Zuccarello would be the Rangers Ambassador for You Can Play. The You Can Play project is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the LGBTQ community and fighting homophobia in sports. The Rangers will celebrate You Can Play during tomorrow night’s game against the Ducks.
The details of the event can be found here. A special table will be set up at Section 113/114 where fans can talk to a representative and learn more about the organization and their initiatives. There will also be an online auction, and 100% of the auction’s proceeds will benefit the You Can Play Project.
The Rangers managed to sneak away on Super Bowl Sunday with a win against the lowly Flames, but they made us sweat. Strong first and third periods sandwiched a poor second. A strong offensive performance was overshadowed by poor defense again. No gifs for this game, but bullet points are fun too!
- I missed the first period, but I saw the replays of the goals. The Rangers have this habit of getting in front of shots from the point that they should be avoiding, and not trying to block. Nick Holden was victimized on this one. He tried to get out of the way, but it still hit his hip and went by Hank.
- That said, Hank goofed on handling the puck before the shot by Dougie Hamilton. He tried to make a play and failed. Aside from that though, he was solid.
- Rick Nash cleaned up the garbage in front for his goal. He’s been a man on a mission this season. His contract is always going to be a polarizing topic of conversation, but he’s been great this season.
Rochester Americans 4, Hartford Wolf Pack 2
By Chris Kohler
Hartford, CT, February 4, 2017 – Justin Fontaine scored shorthanded for the Hartford Wolf Pack, and Philip McRae had a power-play goal, Saturday night at the XL Center, but Evan Rodrigues’ two scores led the Rochester Americans to a 4-2 victory.
The loss snapped a two-game Wolf Pack winning streak.
The Rangers are at home today in a Super Bowl LI kickoff pregame, taking on the Calgary Flames. The Flames are pretty bad, with limited scoring depth and bad goaltending. Outside of their top three blue liners, they are weak there as well. All in all, the Rangers are better than Calgary, so this makes for a solid trap game.
I checked with officials ahead of time, and they assured me that the pucks will be properly inflated for the game. That’s good, we don’t want any distractions and sidebar conversations during the game. It would take away from the on-ice product. Am I right?
The defensemen on the Ducks have been a topic of conversation all year. Cam Fowler was the rumored odd man out, but Bob McKenzie said he has been so good for the Ducks he’s practically untradeable. With that in mind, I thought I’d revive a little idea we had on the podcast some while back as it pertains to fixing this blue line: trading for Josh Manson.
You see, the Ducks are in a bind. They have a fairly stacked blueline, plus need to protect Kevin Bieksa in the upcoming expansion draft due to his NMC. They can’t protect all of Fowler, Bieksa, Manson, Sami Vatanen, and Hampus Lindholm, so it stands to reason that one of them will end up being traded or the Ducks risk losing them for nothing. While there’s certainly a chance that ends up being Vatanen, I’ll save that hype-train for Dave, who more or less is his biggest fan. Instead, let’s imagine that Manson is the odd man out here.
Hartford Wolf Pack 4, Utica Comets 3
By Chris Kohler
The Comets got on the board first, after Hartford’s Chris Brown fired a shot that hit the post and rebounded into Utica possession. The Comets’ Andrey Pedan collected the puck and fired an outlet pass to Borna Rendulic, who took the puck the length of the ice and snuck it past Halverson at 3:33 of the first period.
The Twitterverse got a little excited yesterday, as rumors broke that the Rangers are heavily scouting the Kings. They had Doug Risebrough in Ontario to watch LA’s AHL squad, and are rumored to be checking out the NHL squad with regularity. I don’t know much about the source, but people I trust have vouched for him. So, take that as you will.
We know the Rangers want a right handed defenseman. From LA’s standpoint, they need cheap depth scoring. Outside of Kopitar, Gaborik, Toffoli, and Carter, they have very little in terms of skill, scoring, and speed. On paper, there’s a match to be made assuming salaries can sync up. Trying to figure out who LA is willing to part with is a little challenging though.
Earlier this week, the Rangers extended head coach Alain Vigneault’s contract another two years through the 2019-2020 season. The timing was a bit odd, as AV still had another full year on his initial deal and was fresh off a pretty embarrassing playoff defeat last season. But it’s tough to argue with AV’s success with the Rangers. He sports a 175-97-23, good for a .632 win percentage.
AV is a very smart coach. His systems on the ice generate solid offense. There’s a reason why he is as successful as he is. It’s not just dumb luck. But he is not a perfect coach. His flaws not only overshadow his successes, but follow him from team to team.