Archive for Marc Staal
The Rangers are finally starting to get healthy, per the notes from practice yesterday. To summarize:
- Pavel Buchnevich and Rick Nash will return to the lineup tonight. With Nicklas Jensen already sent down, one of Matt Puempel, Brandon Pirri, or Marek Hrivik will sit so both can play (unless Jesper Fast can’t play).
- Fast has the flu. AV wasn’t 100% he will be good to go tonight.
- Mika Zibanejad was skating in full yesterday. He will not play this weekend, and will practice again in full on Monday. Alain Vigneault hinted that it’s a matter of getting Zibanejad back in game shape.
- Marc Staal is likely not playing this weekend. That likely means the same defense pairings tonight and tomorrow.
With the recent news that Marc Staal is going to be out indefinitely with post concussion symptoms, the Rangers find themselves short one of their top-four defensemen. Whether you agree Staal should have been in the top-four is a bit irrelevant at the moment, since he was in the top-four regardless. This is going to force Alain Vigneault and possibly Jeff Gorton to adjust if this team is going to make a run at a Stanley Cup.
In fact, it has already forced AV to make a major change to his defense, taking Dan Girardi off the top pair for Brady Skjei. Adam Clendening was naturally in the lineup, and was put on his off-side with Kevin Klein. Dan Girardi moved down to play with Nick Holden, who moved back to his natural side on the left. I personally did not watch the game, but from what I’ve heard, Clendo and Skjei both had strong games in their roles.
Per Larry Brooks, Rangers defenseman Marc Staal is out indefinitely with post concussion syndrome. Staal has struggled with concussions since getting hit by his brother Eric into the boards about five years ago. Staal’s head hit the boards awkwardly, which caused the concussion.
Obviously this is not good news for the Rangers and for Staal, as Staal was having a relatively dependable bounce back year. He seemed to have clicked with Nick Holden to form a somewhat dependable second pairing.
Injuries have plagued Staal, and definitely zapped some of the potential. Without concussions and with two functional eyes, Staal was a can’t miss defenseman. Now he’s simply serviceable. What could have been.
With the Rangers on their bye week, which was perfectly timed with the halfway point of the season, we are afforded the opportunity to evaluate the Rangers with nothing else going on. Midseason report cards have been a bit of a tradition here at BSB, so let’s keep that tradition going, shall we?
Over the next few days, each of us will be tackling a different aspect of the team, and assigning grades accordingly. I’m batting leadoff here, and I’m going to be discussing the most polarizing aspect of this year’s team: The defense.
Overall, the back line for the Rangers has been relatively bad. The combination of age, injuries, wear and tear, and a shift towards speed has made what was once a strong defense into a bottom-five unit in the league. The slow start by Henrik Lundqvist exposed the defense even more. But it’s not all bad, either.
A little late to the news here, but Rangers defenseman Marc Staal will miss at least the next two games with an upper body injury. There’s no indication of where this injury occurred, but it was obviously during last the loss to Buffalo Sabres. Staal has been significantly better this year, and has clicked with Nick Holden. His presence in the lineup may be missed over the next two games.
Adam Clendening will dress for the next two games while Staal is out. For tonight, he will skate on the left side –opening him up to offensive opportunities– with Kevin Klein. Brady Skjei will play with Ryan McDonagh on the top pair (!), while Dan Girardi will play with Holden on the third pair.
At the end of last spring, it was fairly apparent to anyone who had watched the team, whether it was all year long or just the short time the Rangers spent in the post season, that the defense was an issue. Putting aside GM Jeff Gorton’s attempts to address this issue or lack thereof, a popular narrative began floating around that the squad’s worst two defenders, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, would bounce back come October.
Although at the time this notion may have seemed plausible to some and wishful thinking to others, we’re at a point in the season where we can begin to evaluate whether or not that either player has truly bounced back. The Rangers have played enough games to get us to a point where statistical sample sizes are meaningful, and the body of work that we’ve seen on the ice is more than just a momentary flash in the pan.
Even though the Rangers have started the season 2-2, there have been plenty of reasons for optimism. The team has dominated possession and scoring chances in the two losses, and were simply stymied by two goaltenders on their game. There have been some highlights and lowlights since the season began, and as you can imagine, I have some thoughts…
1. This forward group has been really impressive so far. There is speed up and down the lineup. Oddly good chemistry has developed on certain lines very quickly (coughKreiderZBadBuchcough) and the special teams have had a much better look, as well. The sample sizes are still to small to look at efficiency or league rankings, etc., but the visual analysis tells me that it has been much improved.
2. It is really nice to have some shooters in the lineup for a change. There is obviously a point of diminishing returns with simply firing at the net with every touch, but having those guys with a shoot first instinct has made the offense much more dynamic. Mika Zibanejad has been especially impressive thus far.
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) June 24, 2016
This is certainly an interesting development, as all signs had pointed to one, if not both of them staying. Both are signed to long term deals with big cap hits and no-move clauses, but both carry name brand value.
This could be an interesting draft.
Apparently, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are so bad (p.s. they’re not) that they are untradeable unless the Rangers do something ridiculous like take back Bobby Holik and Scott Gomez’s Ranger contracts.
Well, the rather perplexing trade between the Canucks and Panthers this week has taught us two things that should excite the Rangers and those are: NHL General Managers still make stupid decisions and there is most certainly a market for mediocre defensive defensemen.
Here’s the deal; Erik Gudbranson is a better, younger player than either Staal or Girardi but he has neither lived up to his draft billing (3rd overall in 2010) nor is he such a particularly impressive blueliner that teams ‘just have to have him’. Factor in the Canucks gave up the 33rd overall pick in what appears to be a solid draft, gave up on their 14th overall draft pick from 2014 and you have the makings of an overpayment regardless of the other bits and pieces in the deal.
Unless you were living under a rock this season, you noticed that the Rangers need to make some changes if they wish to stay relevant in the NHL. Without singling out specific players, they were slow, apathetic, careless, and sloppy all season long. Some of it was attitude, with the apparent expectation that they could just flip the switch in the playoffs. That didn’t work.
The bigger issue was the inability to get the puck out of the defensive zone to transition to offense. On defense, only Keith Yandle consistently moved the puck out of the defensive zone. But he’s going to command $6 million on the open market. That snowballed throughout the lineup, as the forwards were unable to generate speed through the neutral zone. That stymied the offense, especially in the playoffs.