The New York Rangers made it six wins in a row last night, topping the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 3-0, giving Henrik Lundqvist his first shutout of the season. This isn’t one of those games that the Rangers were “lucky to escape,” despite getting outplayed for stretches by the Canes. However, the Rangers were certainly prone to playing down to their inferior opponent. They had a weak start to the game and a weak finish to the second period. Hank stood tall throughout, as per usual, stopping all 33 shots he faced.
Despite the periods of relatively weak hockey at times, the Rangers were still solid on the forecheck, and it resulted in their first two goals, both scored in a 13 second window in the first period. It wasn’t their forecheck that was the problem, that’s for sure. Rick Nash was a force all game, and Mats Zuccarello played probably his best game as a Ranger.
What was a problem, aside from the defensive zone play, was the undisciplined play. The Rangers took six penalties in this game. Their penalty killing is top notch though, so they killed them all off. It’s been a problem for a few games though.
The Rangers are experiencing quite a run of success. They are 10-2-2 to start the season and 7-0-2 in their last nine games. Tonight they face a Carolina Hurricanes team that is one of the better possession teams in the league. They are small and fast, but lack true finishing skill outside of the Staals.
The Canes have played .500 hockey for their first 14 games, and have a -10 goal differential thus far. They have just one player (Versteeg) with double-digit points. Their goaltending duo of Cam Ward-Eddie Lack has been atrocious, with neither above a .907 SV%. The Canes have a good process –they drive possession– but lack the talent to score or keep scorers at bay.
What have they done lately?
The Rangers are probably the most hotly debated 10-2-2 team that I’ve ever come across. There are those that believe the Rangers are the best team in the league. There are others that believe the Rangers are a product of unsustainable goaltending and shooting percentage. The reality likely falls in the middle.
The Rangers are probably one of the deepest teams in the league at forward. They have four lines that can score and play two-way hockey. They can skate, score, and play defense. Their rush-based offense has again turned turnovers into scoring chances and goals. The goaltending is elite, not much else to say there. The biggest questions are on the blue line, and it’s something we’ve covered here a bunch of times.
Last week, I introduced a tool that was able to track how prospects in the WHL were doing. Today I would officially like to show the QMJHL version of the tool and allow people to use it. The visual is attached below. This feature is available in the main menus at the top, under Prospect Career Trends. The direct link to the QMJHL tool is here.
To use this, go to the drop down menu and choose any QMJHL player . You will automatically be able to see the trend of the prospect along his QMJHL Career. If you are interested you may use the “Seasons” slider to look at how the player has done over time season by season.
The first graph shows Assists/Game and Goals/Game. Under the circle we have player name, points/game and games played. The second Graph graphs the QoC (Quality of Competition) and QoT (Quality of teammates). The higher the QoT,the better the teammates, and the higher the QoC the tougher the competition. Hope this will be useful for people and I will be updating stats around every week and a half.
The fanbase is obviously divided on Dan Girardi. It couldn’t be any more obvious. Some think he’s a top pairing, shutdown defenseman. Others think he should be fired into the sun with a giant Acme slingshot. The rest think it’s somewhere in between. It’s pretty fun to watch the interactions on Twitter and in the comments.
So that leads me to the newest poll: Where do you think the Rangers should play Girardi? Top pair? Out of the lineup? In between? Vote in the poll below.
Disclaimer: I’m 100% poking the bear here.
Rick Nash has returned to practice, skating on his usual line with Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard. Emerson Etem is back as the spare forward. Dan Boyle will also stay in the lineup, and Dylan McIlrath will sit.
Over the weekend, Alain Vigneault spoke with Dan Boyle, and said that he would be getting more time off as a healthy scratch throughout the season. The reasoning is that the Rangers have a fairly condensed schedule, with 17 back-to-backs and about ten (I think) three-in-fours. While Boyle is better defensively than he receives credit, he is also 39 years old coming off a long season.
There’s also the factor of getting Dylan McIlrath playing time, which in the long-run is equally important. McIlrath has made tremendous strides in his game over the past year, and has gone from “bust” territory to serviceable defenseman. The Rangers invested a lot of time and effort into his development, and it appears to finally be paying dividends.
The New York Rangers have won five games in a row. They are 7-0-2 in their last nine games, and are sitting atop the Metro Division. But yet the focus seems to be on Rick Nash, at least when it isn’t on Dan Girardi. Nash has just one goal thus far, and has drawn the ire of many fans. But I’m not all that concerned about Rick Nash. And neither should you.
We’ve discussed Nash here and there over the past month, mostly noting that he’s shooting well below his career average of 12.4% (he’s at just 3% now). He’s doing the right things, driving to the net, getting scoring chances, and creating offense for him and his teammates. It’s definitely a slump to start the season. That said, the process is there but the results, to date, have not.
Bridgeport Sound Tigers 1, Hartford Wolf Pack 0
Bridgeport, CT, November 8, 2015 – The Hartford Wolf Pack were shut out for a third straight time, a first in franchise history, Sunday at Webster Bank Arena, losing 1-0 to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
The Wolf Pack outshot the Sound Tigers 30-18, but could not solve Bridgeport goaltender Christopher Gibson. Jesse Graham’s late-second period goal was the only scoring. Magnus Hellberg made 17 stops in the Wolf Pack net.
The loss came on the heels of a 4-0 Wolf Pack home-ice setback vs. the Albany Devils Saturday night and a 5-0 home loss to the Toronto Marlies Wednesday.