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Posts tagged: Carl Hagelin

Replacing Boyle in the lineup

When Chris Neil took out Brian Boyle with a questionable hit on Saturday night, he took out the Rangers most effective forward. He took out their leading scorer, top defensive forward, and top penalty killer in this series. He took out the only player that has managed to get under the skin of the Senators. It’s a big blow to the Rangers, and not a player easily replaced. The best the Rangers can do is find some sort of lineup option that maximizes the return of Carl Hagelin, and minimizes the departure of Boyle. This is no easy task.

Side note: Is it great for the depth of the team to say that Boyle has been the best forward, or is it a sign of weakness in the top six? Tough call there.

The good news, as mentioned above, is that Hagelin will be returning to the lineup tonight after serving his three game suspension for elbowing and concussing Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. The addition of Hagelin adds some much needed speed and puck possession to the lineup, which also helps minimize the negative effects of having their top defensive forward out of the lineup.

This leaves the Rangers with a few lineup options to consider for the game, and while none are perfect, they give the Rangers much needed flexibility.

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Calder finalists announced, Hagelin not among them

In what is no surprise to pretty much anyone, Carl Hagelin was not included in the finalists for the Calder Trophy for the NHL’s top rookie. The finalists are Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, New Jersey’s Adam Henrique, and Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog.

RNH appears to be the front runner, as he has the post points among the trio in less games (62), with a line of 18-34-52. Comparatively, Landeskog has as many points (22-30-52) in a full 82 games, while Henrique has a line of 16-35-51 in 74 games.

To average this out over 82 games, RNH would finish with a line of approximately 23-44-67. Henrique’s numbers would jump slightly to 17-38-55, and Landeskog’s numbers would remain the same.

Hagelin finished the season with a line of 14-24-38 in 64 games. Averaged out over 82 games, that’s a line of 17-30-47. So the omission of Hagelin is a reasonable one.

My prediction: RNH wins it, probably close to unanimously too.

Even strength play needs to get better

The Rangers made it through the regular season by dominating teams at even strength. Their powerplay was nothing to write home about, and it was actually considered the biggest weakness in their game. But now, four games into the series with Ottawa, the Senators have managed to expose the Rangers at even strength. The last even strength goal: Brian Boyle’s goal in the third period of Game Three. The one before that? Boyle’s goal in the third period of Game Two.

For those keeping track, that’s two even strength goals in seven periods of hockey. That is not what made the Rangers the top seed in the Eastern Conference. They have a lead in even strength goals (7-6 thus far), but considering the weaknesses of the powerplay*, there needs to be a wider gap.

*-Statistically the Rangers powerplay isn’t awful this series, but it cost them Game Two. Timing is everything with powerplay goals.

The biggest offenders at even strength are the two guys that were signed to provide scoring for the Rangers: Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards. Both have just one even strength point (a goal a piece). Simply put: they need to be better at even strength.

The Senators aren’t exactly a defensive juggernaut, but they have managed to hold the Rangers to two goals or less in three of the first four games. Only Game One saw a successful Rangers attack at even strength. As Suit pointed out, the Senators aggressive hybrid trap has the Rangers running around in their own zone, and seemingly unable to get anything going on offense.

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Musings: When leadership plays its role; Special teams playoffs; Kreider’s ice time

So the Rangers lost another heartbreaker last night in overtime. It’s their second loss to the Senators in the series, both coming in overtime. The fan base is on edge, and for good reason. The Senators are a good team, and a team that the Rangers do not match up well against. It’s going to be a stressful series, that’s for sure. But enough of that, let’s get to the musings for the day.

I’m in the process of reading a book called “Losing the Edge: The Rise and Fall of the Stanley Cup Champion New York Rangers”, and there was a great quote in the book, from none other than Mark Messier:

“Leadership isn’t about the win, it’s about how you rebound after the loss.”

This statement is more true now, in this series, than ever before. The Rangers have more leaders on this team with Cup experience than the Senators. It’s time for the leaders to take charge. In fact, one of the leaders –Mike Rupp– almost won the game for the Rangers in overtime with his forecheck in the Senators zone.  People still rip on Rupp for no reason whatsoever. Maybe it’s the contract, but I get the sense that it’s a feeling of “he doesn’t do anything for this club.” That is so false, it pains me every time I see it. Hockey is more than goals and assists. It’s about dirty work, especially playoff hockey.

Speaking of playoff hockey, is last night’s game what we are reduced to? There were a toal of 12 penalties last night totaling 24 PIMs. Some were legitimate calls, but I can point to two penalties, one per team, that were questionable at best. Ryan McDonagh’s “trip” on Zenon Kenopka in the first period and Zach Smith’s “interference” on Ruslan Fedotenko in the second period were very iffy calls. But such is the life after a dirty first two games. The refs aren’t going to allow this stuff to fly. This is now a special teams series, and that makes most people nervous.

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Getting by without Hagelin

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past week, you know that Carl Hagelin was suspended (questionably) for 3 games for elbowing Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson in the head during game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.  Due to this turn of events, the Rangers have lost a key cog in their top line, and one of their biggest speed/forechecking threats.

Chris Kreider was inserted into the lineup in Hagelin’s place for game 3 and acquitted himself well for a pro debut in the middle of a playoff series.  By the third period, however, Torts felt that Kreider wasn’t ready to be that guy for the top line and inserted Derek Stepan.  The question remains going into Game 4 on Wednesday, who is the right guy to take Hagelin’s spot on the top unit?

Let’s take a look at some possibilities…

  • Ryan Callahan- Captain Cally does just about everything for the Rangers, so why not install him on the top line?  He could be a huge boon to the forecheck and allow for Richards and Gabby a little more room to operate down low.  He also has an unfailing nose for the net, and if those two can generate shots on goal, Cally is a good bet to bang in some rebounds.
  • Brandon Dubinsky- Last season’s leading scorer, Dubi would seem to possess the skill set to complement the top line nicely.  He has a decent set of hands and can bring some jam to a finesse unit.  However, he has had trouble finding the back of the net this season, and has often looked lost between passing and shooting.  But, who knows, maybe playing with talent like Gaborik and Richards is just the thing to light the fire under Dubi’s offensive game. Read more »

Hagelin’s suspension leads to Kreider’s opportunity

In case you missed it last night, Brendan Shanahan inexplicably suspended winger Carl Hagelin for three games for his hit on Daniel Alfredsson. While the hit may have warranted a suspension, the inconsistencies of the suspension rulings are what have most people perplexed. That is not the main point of this story though.

Hagelin’s loss is a big one. He has so much speed that he forces the opposition to play differently. He was one of the reasons why the Rangers had such a dominant season with his puck possession skills, and was clicking on the top line with Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards. He will be sorely missed in the Rangers lineup.

But with loss comes opportunity. The Rangers lose Hagelin, but now rookie Chris Kreider has an opportunity to show why he is so highly touted. Kreider has the speed to match Hagelin’s loss, but the real question is about his ability to click with the top line, and to match Hagelin’s dominant puck possession metrics.

Many are not too enamored with Kreider’s stats in college, and these are the people doubting his ability to perform in the NHL. But those are the same people that don’t understand that stats in college are only one aspect of a player’s potential. BC ran four lines evenly en route to a National Championship. The top scorers in the NCCA played on teams that ran two or three lines regularly. Thus, these scoring leaders get significantly more ice time than Kreider.

Kreider has all the tools to become a dominant NHL player. It’s why the Rangers didn’t want to trade Kreider in any deal for Rick Nash. Having the tools is one thing, performing is another. The rookie winger has an opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done in 21 years in this organization. He has the opportunity to debut –and make an impact– as a rookie in the playoffs. Tony Amonte was the last Ranger to do so in 1991, now Kreider will likely have his shot.

Hagelin suspended three games, Carkner gets only one.

Per Bob McKenzie, Carl Hagelin has been suspended for three games for his hit on Daniel Alfredsson in Game 2 of the Rangers/Senators conference quarterfinal.  Here is Brendan Shanahan’s video explanation.

 

Update: Per NHL.com, Carkner has only been suspended for one game. Here is Shannys video for Carkner.

Season Turning Point: Calling up Hagelin and Mitchell

With a playoff spot clinched, we are running a new series about turning points in the season. These posts will focus on moves the Rangers made that effectively turned their season from mediocre to great.

On November 24, the Rangers had lost two games in a row to the Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers. It wasn’t so much that the Rangers lost the games, it was that they were getting beat to every single loose puck in those games. They looked slow, and even looked slow in their six wins prior to those losses. The two players made an immediate impact, and the Rangers won their next five in a row, including three in a row against Washington, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.

But those wins weren’t just ordinary wins. The Rangers looked faster, and for good reason. Hagelin and Mitchell eventually replaced the revolving door of Erik Christensen, Wojtek Wolski, and Sean Avery (with a little Andre Deveaux as well). Only Avery had some sort of speed out of that trio. Their success paved the way for the removal of all three spare parts (and distractions) from the Rangers locker room, permanently. It was not only addition by speed, but addition by subtraction.

It wasn’t just speed though. Something was different. Both players immediately bought into the John Tortorella system of forechecking, two way hockey, and grinding out games. The Rangers had the puck more often, and it showed. Their time of possession in the offensive zone shot up noticeably, and the Rangers were generating more offense off the physical offensive zone play. They had the puck more, it’s as simple as that, and it was mainly due to Mitchell and Hagelin.

Puck possession is an easy enough metric to figure out, as it’s defined by the stat Corsi. Corsi is a stat that counts the number of shots directed at your net (missed, blocked, saved, or goals) versus the number of shots directed at your opponents net (missed, blocked, saved, or goals) while a specific player is on the ice. All shot attempts for – all shot attempts against = Corsi. Essentially, the more shots directed at your opponents net, the more you have the puck, and vice versa.

Relative Corsi (I’m going to abbreviate this as RCorsi) takes Corsi to a different level. Generally speaking, the better teams in the league will dominate Corsi. RCorsi accounts for this, and takes the Corsi of the player (as described above) and subtract the Corsi of the team when that player is off the ice. This makes for a more balanced measure of puck possession, as it eliminates the team concept and focuses solely on the player, and how he affects the team.

Now that we’ve explained RCorsi, it’s easy to see why Hagelin and Mitchell were instrumental to the Rangers long term success. They boast the two highest RCorsi among forwards on the team. Mitchell’s RCorsi is 13.1, and Hagelin’s is 12.6. To really put a value to this, the next best Ranger is Brandon Dubinsky at 8.5 RCorsi. Brad Richards sit’s in 4th at 2.7 RCorsi.

What’s even more impressive about their RCorsi is that Hagelin starts less than 50% of his shifts in the offensive zone (46.5%) and Mitchell is barely above 50% offensive zone starts (51.1%).

The best part is that these guys are showing they made a difference on the ice and on the scoreboard. Despite playing 20 fewer games than the rest of the team, Hagelin still sits in the top five in scoring on the team (14-23-37). Average that out over a full 72 games thus far for the Rangers, and that’s 18-30-48. That’s Calder discussion worthy. As for Mitchell, he has 15 points (5-10-15) while playing mostly checking line duties.

The Rangers didn’t just call up two AHL guys, they called up two difference makers. These two almost single-handedly righted the ship for the Rangers in what could have been a disastrous stretch. Just think Mitchell was acquired from Toronto for a 7th round pick, and Hagelin was a 6th round pick in 2008. Not bad Mr. Sather.

Dubinsky’s biggest problem

No, it isn’t Carl Hagelin, although that’s a pretty big issue for Dubinsky right now. Dubinsky is clearly the forgotten man in the Rangers offense right now and his biggest problem this season is consistency.

Anyone who watched the Islanders game will have seen Dubinsky was strong on the puck and his line generated plenty of chances all round. Dubinsky then followed it up with a game against Carolina where he was a complete non-factor and ended up with the third least ice time among forwards bettering only fourth line stalwarts Mike Rupp and John Mitchell (who still managed to make some good plays in his ice time).

These two games – against cellar dwellers no less – sum up Dubinsky’s year. Yes you can point to the emergence of Carl Hagelin, who has provided effort, production, speed and a cheap solution to the left wing spot.  And yes, you can say Dubinsky hasn’t finished enough of the chances that have come his way – you’ll not find disagreement on any of this.

However, trust is earned with Tortorella and the coach simply cannot rely on the well paid Dubinsky to back up one good game with another. Dubinsky has twelve regular season games and the playoffs to save his Rangers career. He certainly won’t be a hurdle for Chris Kreider to jump given the organisation’s lust for the BC winger to be in NY as soon as possible. He’s well behind the eight ball if it’s a Hagelin vs. Dubinsky debate. And don’t even get started on a Nash/insert free agent name vs. Dubinsky debate.

Dubi doesn’t need to score at a crazy rate to finish the season to have a chance to remain a Ranger, but he does need to show something that has often eluded him his entire Ranger career – consistency. Note: there’s a big difference between consistency and streaky. If Dubinsky can show he can be counted on to be a factor for the remainder of the season, then both he and the franchise will benefit from it. It may be Dubinsky’s last chance to remain a Ranger.

Recap: Rangers v. Penguins

The return of Sidney Crosby promptly ended the Rangers mini-winning streak as the Pens dropped the Rangers tonight 5-2 at Madison Square Garden.  The Blue shirt’s Jekyll and Hyde play in this game ultimately was their undoing.  There was a lot of positives to take away from this game as well as quite a few negatives.  To the bullets…

  • 1st Period
  • The Rangers started off the game trying to establish a physical presence.  Boyle and Prust were targeting Malkin relentlessly.  Unfortunately, that physical edge would not last long.
  • It seemed like the Rangers were getting their bearings for the first half of the period.  They almost needed to prove to themselves that they could skate with Pittsburgh.
  • Tough bounce on the Pen’s first goal.  Biron made a nice pad save and the rebound went off the crossbar, off Bickel and into the net.  1-0 Penguins.
  • The PK unit looked great in the first.  They were all over Crosby at the point and not allowing the wingers to gain possession along the sidewalls.
  • Carl Hagelin was able to pot a rebound chance off a scramble in front to tie the score at the 13:36 mark.  That line was at it again. 1-1.
  • Marty Biron had a rock solid first period, with great saves on several Penguins chances.
  • 2nd Period
  • Carl Hagelin was the best player on the ice (non-Malkin addition) in the first period and continued his strong play into the second.  He was a forechecking machine and created several turnovers in the offensive zone.
  • James Neal had a tremendous individual effort on Malkin’s goal.  He stripped the puck from Ryan McDonagh and made a fantastic pass to Malkin on the doorstep to give the Pens the lead.  2-1 Pittsburgh.
  • 1:12 later, Matt Cooke put the Pens up by a pair.  Broken defensive coverage allowed Cooke to sneak in the far side for basically an empty net goal.  Gabby got caught in no man’s land on the back check. 3-1 Pens.
  • The Rangers got some chances in the latter half of the second.  Marc-Andre Fleury had an unbelievable glove save on Marian Gaborik, and Brandon Prust followed that up by banging one off the crossbar.
  • The Rangers would pull within one with about five and a half minutes to go in the second.  Gaborik made a terrific back pass on a give and go to Brad Richards and eventually found himself in the slot and buried the shot under Fleury’s right arm.  3-2 Penguins.
  • Late in the second period, the Ranger’s lost Artem Anisimov with an upper body injury sustained on a body check.  He would not return for the remainder of the game.
  • 3rd Period
  • Play was a little timid to start the third.  The teams started out 4-on-4 before the Penguins would eventually see the last minute or so of the double minor to Stu Bickel assessed at the end of the second.  The Rangers did a nice job killing the penalty, but as it was expiring, Brian Boyle blocked a shot that left him limping.  It was essentially a 5-on-3 as Bickel raced from the box and Chris Kunitz was able to beat Marty Biron over his right shoulder off a feed from Crosby.  4-2 Penguins.
  • The Penguins would put the final nail in the coffin several minutes later after Pascal Dupuis banged home a rebound that Biron probably should have controlled or deflected.  5-2 Penguins.
  • The Rangers had several good chances in the final 6 minutes or so but Marc Andre Fleury had a couple ridiculous saves.

Goaltending analysis

  • Marc Andre Fleury was terrific tonight, making 29 saves.  He quashed several good scoring chances the Rangers (mostly the Hagelin-Richards-Gaborik line) created.  His glove was a major weapon tonight.
  • Marty Biron obviously faired a little worse than Fleury in this one.  Overall, I thought he played pretty well though.  The first goal was a brutal bounce and there was very little he could have done on the Malkin and Cooke goals.  The rebound on Dupuis’ goal and his positioning on Kunitz was a little sketchy, but he battled and made some nice saves for the team.

Random thoughts

  • Although the result is not what we were all looking for, it wasn’t as bad as the score would indicate.  Considering the absences of Lundqvist, Callahan and Del Zotto, the Rangers could have played much, much worse.
  • That said, the Rangers lost this game when they stopped forechecking and maintaining their physical edge.  The only line that was really doing much of anything offensively was the new top unit.
  • Too many wide shots tonight.  When your opportunities are limited, you need to at least force the goalie to make a save.
  • Kris Letang was +5 tonight.
  • McDonagh had a rough game.  He saw Staal take his spot on the top pair after the Malkin goal and made a few questionable decisions as the game went along.  Hopefully he can put it behind him and come out strong against Colorado.
  • The secondary scoring has to start to come with some consistency.  The Stepan-Dubi-Anisimov line has to be better than they were tonight.  They showed flashes of promise, but they need to put it together consistently.
  • Even though Crosby’s line did some damage, I actually thought they defended him personally pretty well.
  • Health is so unbelievably important down the stretch into the playoffs.  This team needs Cally/Hank/DZ back asap.

Off tomorrow then the red hot Avalanche come to town Saturday night.