Since Chris is on his annual pilgrimage to the US of A, you’re all stuck with me for this week’s musings. I know my questions won’t be anywhere near as poignant or provocative as my colleague from across the pond, but I’m gonna give it the old college try…
After not having seen the Maple Leafs since the middle of January, I’ll admit I was expecting more of the same from Toronto. I was incorrect. That team is a pain to play against. They run an aggressive forecheck and are deadly in transition. They are going to make someone’s life very difficult in the first round. As long as their goaltending holds up…
Torts shuffled the lines around big time last night. While I really enjoy seeing the Nash-Stepan-Cally line together, I understand Tort’s thinking. The Phaneuf matchup was killing that line and Tort’s needed to give Toronto a different look. I wasn’t crazy about any of the specific lines he created, and since the Isles don’t have a shut-down number 1 d-man, I’d expect more familiar line combos come Saturday.
I know Hags hasn’t fully cemented himself as a top-6 player just yet, but even when he’s moving up and down the lineup, I think it’s a waste to play him with Boyle or Pyatt. Read more »
Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News
Up front, the Rangers will have a lot of moving parts this summer beyond their top six. With Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan certainties to be retained (a question of how much rather than if) and the club focused on developing the young players such as Chris Kreider and JT Miller, there’s not a lot of space on the roster. With the club committed, at least financially, to Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, Brian Boyle, Arron Asham, and Taylor Pyatt there’s maybe no space for the likes of Mats Zuccarello, no matter how he plays this year out.
The natural assumption is that the Rangers will trade guys to make room for others. But the problem with this assumption is that the cap is coming down to $64.3 million, and assuming the Rangers can move a now expendable guy such as Taylor Pyatt (and his $1.55 million cap hit) is a dangerous assumption. There’s also no guarantees the club can move a Boyle or a Pyatt should they choose to. Now, do the math. That’s ten players listed without considering Ryane Clowe, Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and Darroll Powe. That’s also not considering any players from the Whale, CHL, Europe, NCAA, or free agency. Log Jam folks.
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Gaborik needs to step up, the Rangers need him.
I almost didn’t want to write this post out of protest at losing valuable sleep having to watch the Montreal game Tuesday night. That said, it probably should have sent me to sleep. Anyway, it’s another musings on another game day. Let’s get at it.
Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik need to be much, much better. Inconsistent at best, invisible at worst these guys should be difference makers in turgid affairs like the one on Tuesday.
Gaborik: I’m a huge fan, one of my favourite Rangers. That said, he’s started to play more on the perimeter again and is getting away from what makes him successful when he’s been scoring as a Ranger. We need to see him in open ice, yes. However, we also need to see him around the net, looking for rebounds, looking to sneak behind defensemen. Gaborik needs to step up.
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The Rangers had plenty to celebrate tonight.
The Rangers rode an offensively strong first period and turned it into a pretty dominant 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Aside from a somewhat defensively suspect first period (which gave Lundqvist some nice practice time…) and a brain fart on the Lightning goal, this was as near to a complete game as you’ll get.
The Rangers had strong performances all over the ice. Led by Hagelin followed by Nash, Staal, Lundqvist, the fourth line and Ryan McDonagh, but in particular Girardi was up there with Hagelin displaying his exceptional decision making all game long. The Rangers controlled the boards, controlled the tempo and controlled a highly skilled team allowing them just 20 shots. This game makes you excited to be a Ranger fan as the depth really came to the fore tonight.
On to the breakdown folks.
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Hagelin won’t be goal-less for long.
With the Rangers offense appearing to finally be coming to form, the attention shifts focus to the goal count for the newcomers and those with high expectations. Many expect the offense to come primarily from Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, and Derek Stepan. But to the surprise of many, Taylor Pyatt (three goals) has thrown his name into the mix, and Carl Hagelin has been MIA on the score sheet.
Pyatt has been the second best offseason acquisition thus far. His three goals are a product of his hard work and his ability to be in the right place at the right time. Pyatt’s three goals have come off seven shots, good for a 42.9% conversion rate. Obviously that won’t continue, especially when you look at his career 11% conversion rate. A regression to the mean is bound to happen, and while seven shots is a small sample size, those expecting Pyatt to continue scoring at this pace will be in for a rude awakening.
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If you want one word to sum up the New York Rangers tonight feel free to use sloppy. The Rangers were defeated 3-1 by the Boston Bruins and were second best in almost every facet. Throughout the season the goals in each game (as well as a brief game summary) will be broken down right here so keep on coming back. Let’s get in to it.
Boston 1 Rangers 0
The Rangers got caught on a line change for Boston’s first goal. David Krejci was fed the puck, cross ice, from Andrew Ference and being completely wide open, was able to get off a low shot from the boards which Henrik Lundqvist was only able to push out in front to a streaking Lucic who banked it home from the top of the crease around the fourteen mark of the first. It was a sloppy goal all round from the Rangers especially when you consider how Staal failed to cover Lucic in front. Missed coverage, easy finish.
Boston 2 Rangers 0
The Bruins got their second (midway through the second) once again, directly off a bad change by the Rangers. Following a breakout by the Bruins, essentially Dan Paille was wide open because the back checking Ranger was late back because of the poorly timed change. Whether it was traffic or a deflection (actually, both) Lundqvist was unable to stop Paille’s high shot which hit the post and proceeded to bank off Lundqvist before trickling over the goal line. Boston’s second was another sloppy goal conceded by the Rangers given the badly timed change and poor coverage. Several breakdowns occurred on the goal.
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We know Ryan McDonagh is back in the US and we know Carl Hagelin has terminated his deal with his hometown team back in Sweden. We also know Rick Nash has had his own injury issues despite scoring at an impressive rate in Switzerland. It goes without saying that the NHL is the best league in the world when they’re actually playing hockey. So why then are so many Rangers players struggling to adapt to playing in inferior leagues with inferior players?
Rick Nash aside, and perhaps Hagelin – although in Sweden’s second tier, don’t forget – no Ranger has exactly set the world alight in Europe thus far. In one way it’s hard to be overly critical. After all with little practice time, familiarisation to their clubs, their leagues’ playing style and teammates and a lack of long term perspective (given the short term deals struck with clubs) there isn’t a great basis for success for players heading to Europe.
Again, to be fair it’s not just Rangers players that have failed to make a significant impact. For example Ilya Bryzgalov hasn’t exactly got his game back on track in the KHL, Evander Kane suffered a torrid time in Russia while Max Paciorettey had a miserable time in Europe and came back at the first opportunity following a somewhat bitter divorce with his Euro employers.
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First, I hope that everyone who reads this blog and all of your families are safe. Hurricane Sandy did a number on the tri-state area, and it was by far the worst storm we have ever encountered. I had a close call myself, as a tree that is (was) three feet from my bedroom window snapped, and the top half came crashing down, missing my apartment by about five feet. There was also another tree that was leaning, but did not go down. Both trees have been removed thankfully.
Now back to some semblance of Ranger hockey: Carl Hagelin had a bit of a scare last night, as he took a hit to the shoulder and was removed from the game. It was a precautionary move, but like Rick Nash before him, his shoulder injury is day-to-day.
Additionally, MSG is planning on airing more KHL games on the MSG network as the lockout continues. There will be a total of eight games aired on MSG throughout the month of November:
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Amid the brief optimism and subsequent let down of the lockout negotiations (aka ‘far apart’) Rangers prospects have been getting it done and, which has been the case all season long, the Swedish contingent are shining bright.
Jesper Fasth continued his strong start to the SEL season and now has 9 points in 14 games for HV71. Fast grabbed two goals on Wednesday as HV71 beat Färjestad 4-3. The most encouraging thing in regard to Fasth is the fact he’s producing on the powerplay (2 of his 6 goals so far) and is seeing considerable ice time at close to 20 minutes/game.
Clearly, Fasth is becoming a go-to option for his club which should stand him in good stead long term. With Oscar Lindberg still scoring at a point/game clip (now 14 in 14) come next season there will likely be another two Swedes making a serious case for inclusion on the Rangers roster.
So how does this affect the roster, aside from player turnover?
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Last night, Ryan McDonagh made his KHL debut for Barys Astana, notching some significant ice time and finishing the 5-1 victory with a +1 rating. Some names that you might notice that are playing with McDonagh on Barys: Nik Antropov, Brandon Bochenski, Dustin Boyes, Nigel Dawes, Victor Hedman, and Andrew Hutchinson. Not exactly a lineup lacking in NHL and/or North American players.
Carl Hagelin also continued his great play in Allsvenskan, notching a goal and an assist in Södertälje SK 5-1 win. That update comes courtesy of Bill Meltzer, who has been doing a great job of tweeting updates from all around Europe and Russia. Definitely give him a follow, as he gives updates on leagues, like Hagelin’s Allsvenskan, that we find it difficult to locate game stats.