Not a single team currently ranked lower than the Rangers in face-off percentage this year will be in the playoffs. The last four Stanley Cup Champions (Chicago (twice), LA and Boston) rank 5th, 3rd and 8th respectively in face-off success. All three of the Rangers centers relied on for their offense – Derick Brassard, Derek Stepan and Brad Richards (so, not Dom Moore and Brian Boyle) – have less than a 50% success rate, with Stepan winning a paltry 45.2% of his face offs. Can you see the point we’re trying to make?
When Brad Richards leaves the Rangers this summer, the team must ensure his replacement(s) count face-off ability among their skill sets. Face-off weakness is also one why reason why Derick Brassard being retained isn’t a guarantee. Aside from resolving Marc Staal’s contract situation this summer, perhaps the biggest focus for the Rangers needs to be acquiring proven face-off centermen.
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The Rangers saw their five game winning streak snapped in addition to having their lead on the Flyers for 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division trimmed in a bitterly disappointing loss to the Flames in Calgary tonight, 4-3. This one saw Martin St. Louis kick in his would-be first Rangers goal, Henrik Lundqvist surrender a super soft game winner, and Kari Ramo make some huge saves before all was said and done. It wasn’t all bad for the Blueshirts, however. They created tons of chances, and the 4th line again looked fantastic. It’s just tough to swallow a loss against a team like the Flames. Onto the goals…
Rangers 0, Flames 1
After some nice work on the forecheck, Derek Dorsett pursued the puck into the zone and took and ill advised penalty behind the play. As the penalty wore down, McDonagh and Derek Stepan found themselves both collapsing as the Flames entered the zone. This gave Curtis Glencross the space to drift into the high left slot and blasted a shot over Hank’s left shoulder. Although the light went on and both teams reacted as if the puck had gone in, it had actually hit the post. On the ensuing scrum in front, Joe Colborne banged in a rebound for the early lead. Read more »
Photo: Frank Franklin II AP
One of the many issues the Rangers have dealt with in the past is depth, specifically on the fourth line. The inconsistency is what led previous coach John Tortorella to play the line just five minutes a night (much to the chagrin of the fans). Last year saw endless combinations of Taylor Pyatt, Darroll Powe, Arron Asham, Derek Dorsett, or –in the playoffs– Brad Richards. In 2011-2012 it was some combination of Mike Rupp, John Mitchell, and a rotating right winger.
The key here is that the Brian Boyle line, whoever he was playing with, was always the third line. The Boyle, Brandon Prust, Ruslan Fedotenko line, the one we all loved so much, was playing top-nine minutes. Not to take anything away from them, as they were one of the better shutdown lines in the game, but that trio –on a deep team poised for a run to the Cup– is a fourth line. It’s something we harped on ’round these parts for about three years.
Our exact quote: “When Brian Boyle is our fourth line center, we will finally have the depth required to make a deep run.”
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With the regular season coming to an end in a few short weeks, speculation will increase as to whether Brian Boyle should be retained or not. For the right price, Glen Sather should absolutely keep Boyle – for the short term. It may be Boyle’s demands that scupper any extension with New York, but from a pure skill perspective he still fills multiple needs for the Rangers.
The Rangers are not a good face-off team. Derek Stepan is at best inconsistent in the face-off circle and, with Brad Richards likely to leave in the summer, the Rangers definitely need some face-off proficiency wherever they can get it. This is a big reason why keeping Boyle is a wise move. Boyle is a solid defensive player (he’s one of the best fourth line players in the game) and he’s essential to the penalty kill, A big part of that is because of his face-off ability.
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Photo credit: Christopher Pasatieri
Often it is the smaller, less heralded moves that make the difference in playoff races. So as the Rangers approach the trade deadline in good form, but still with flaws, should they make any additions? In most cases you have to give to receive, and if the Rangers want to make a real upgrade to their team they will need to consider moving a current piece of the roster.
One player who has quietly had a solid season – even during the dark, inept start laid down by the Rangers – is Brian Boyle. He’s also one player whose future in New York is unclear. We have discussed here numerous times the merits of Boyle’s defensive game, his face-off skills, and his underrated role on the Rangers. While his 21 goal season has proved to be the exception to the rule, even his 10 points so far this year have been welcome help.
All that said, it appears Boyle may be an ex-Ranger soon. Larry Brooks published negative sounding comments from Boyle regarding his future, and pointed out his regressing role as the Rangers have become increasingly disciplined on the ice. Would it make sense to move Boyle? Can the Rangers replace his PK prowess?
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After Tuesday’s disappointing and above all unnecessary loss to the Lightning, the Rangers take on Detroit tonight. Absolutely there for the taking, the Rangers need to avoid a let down game against the Wings who are depleted and not what they were a couple years back. Let’s hit the musings for the first time in a while shall we?
Careful what you wish for: For all the moaning and concerns about the Rangers start to the year, consider the state of the Wings franchise right now. A squad with a few core aging players (think Alfredsson, Kronwall, Bertuzzi, Samuelsson and Cleary) and not a huge amount coming through their system (relatively speaking, of course). The Rangers on the other hand are younger, with a pipeline that while not chock full of talent is far from empty. The Rangers could be in a lot worse shape compared to many teams in the league.
Just when you thought he’d turned a page, Michael Del Zotto has a major lapse in the Tampa loss. That’s why he is so frustrating; for all the good, there is always some bad just around the corner.
The Rangers MVP after the halfway mark? Ryan McDonagh. Undoubtedly without McDonagh, the defense – which has been in a state of flux all year anyway – would have been in big trouble. His offense is also developing quickly.
Talking contracts: How much can Ryan – I can’t stay healthy – Callahan really command and get come contract time? Is it possible that he demands more than the Rangers can offer?
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When healthy, Derek Dorsett has been everything the Rangers hoped for
Like many parts of the 2013-2014 roster, the bottom-six forwards have struggled through long stretches of the season thus far. Part of that can be attributed to players being used out of place and in unusual situations, but the team hasn’t gotten consistent play out of many of its depth forwards for most of the year. That seems to be changing over the last few weeks, and has been as instrumental to the team’s mini turnaround as anything else.
Boyle will forever be a polarizing player amongst Ranger fans because he has hands of stone and doesn’t drive opponents through the boards with his massive size. You can’t really judge Boyle fairly until you accept those two facts of life, which many refuse to do. But Boyle is a very useful player in many other areas. Though this hasn’t been his finest year, Boyle is still being relied on as the team’s top defensive forward, plays well on the penalty kill, is the best faceoff man on the team and drives possession. He is guilty of being a passenger at times this season the same as nearly every player on the roster, but for the most part, Boyle has been use usual steady self. Still, scoring just one goal all year is pretty hard to do.
Grade: B Read more »
Ryan Callahan’s injury woes are concerning, but New York will still likely do everything it can to keep its captain
Quick note: Dave was at the game last night, so the goal breakdown will be done for the afternoon post.
The Rangers’ season is quickly spiraling out of control and it’s probably a matter of time before GM Glen Sather steps in and makes a major shakeup. But with so many pending free agents and so many players underperforming, it’s a certainty that the 2014-2015 version of the Blueshirts will look drastically different than the edition that stunk up the joint last night against Nashville. So let’s take a look at New York’s upcoming free agents and see who might still be around next year, and who could be gone.
Ryan Callahan - Yet another injury has clouded this situation. A few months ago it would have been unthinkable to imagine life without Callahan, but his health is becoming increasingly concerning. New York’s doctors will have to evaluate Callahan’s physical condition, but assuming he’s in one piece, I still expect the Rangers to do everything they can to lock up their captain long-term. Some of the beat writers think Callahan would be very tempted to join the Sabres next summer to move closer to home, but though I’m sure Callahan loves Rochester, New York City isn’t all that far away and I can’t imagine Callahan joining a rebuilding team. If things really fall apart for the Blueshirts and there’s not much progress in negotiations, I could see Callahan being tempted by a contender. But it’s still most likely the Rangers will retain their captain, albeit at a very steep price. Remember, the Rangers paid RFAs Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle and Michael Sauer over Callahan in 2011 and gave him a lesser deal due to the resulting cap crunch. No. 24 swallowed that bitter pill then, but it’s unlikely New York will be getting a hometown discount this time around.
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A strong, prolonged period of results was slightly tarnished with the sloppy, unnecessary loss to the Devils earlier this week. Sloppy goals, defensive lapses and a lack of finish had many reminding us of the early season edition of the Rangers. With games against the Canadiens and Kings on the weekend it’s a big couple of days for the Rangers. On to the musings
Generally speaking, the Rangers have played well in recent games and this has highlighted the contributions from the youth on the roster such as Chris Kreider. With the Wolf Packing doing pretty well too, it makes the Rangers prospect ranking of 27th on Hockey’s Future (if you buy into that kind of thing) pretty farcical.
Danny Kristo, JT Miller, Jesper Fast, Kreider (still not classed as ‘graduated’), Dylan McIlrath, Oscar Lindberg and ‘Boo’ Nieves highlight a pretty talented pool if you ask me. There’s a ton of NHL upside in the Rangers system and the best part is none of it needs to be rushed. The only area of real concern (in my humble opinion) is in goal.
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Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
Over the past few seasons, namely since his 20-goal season, Brian Boyle has become a whipping boy around the inter-webs. It’s incredibly perplexing since Boyle has been one of, if not the best, defensive forward the Rangers have had in quite some time. Many argue that he doesn’t score and doesn’t provide offense, but that’s not his role on the team. Yes, Boyle scored 20 goals once upon a time. But his role now is to take defensive zone draws, play solid defense, and move shutdown the opposition. It’s something he has been very good at as well.
Another common, and not thought out, complaint about Boyle is that he “isn’t physical.” This I laugh at quite often. There is a difference between being a physical player and being a fighter. Boyle doesn’t fight. He has no need to. Physicality and toughness are about the ability to use size to gain strong position along the boards and outworking your opponent. We see this every game that Boyle plays, and we saw it against Pittsburgh for Ryan McDonagh’s goal.
If the eye test deceives you because of the name on the back of his jersey, then the underlying #fancystats should help shed some light.
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