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Last night, Marc Staal was a last-minute scratch from Game Four, forcing Steve Eminger back into the lineup. In Games One and Two, Eminger got enough ice time to give the others a rest, playing 10 minutes in Game One and 14 minutes in Game Two. After sitting out Game Three (with Staal in the lineup), Eminger played just six minutes in Game Four, and didn’t see the ice after a gaffe in the offensive zone that led to the Caps first goal.
Perhaps that is just a one game benching, much like we had seen with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik this season. But we’ve also seen the other end of the spectrum (see: Bickel, Stu) where repeated gaffes led to barely five minutes of playing time per game. Eminger has seen his fair share of benching, but he has also seen top-four minutes under Torts.
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Per Katie Strang, the Rangers have activated Marc Staal off injured reserve. This is not a guarantee that he will play tonight, but it is very likely he will be back. Staal will likely replace Steve Eminger in the lineup.
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One of the oldest adages of hockey is that to win games, you must stay out of the penalty box. Nothing revolutionary there, it makes sense that you don’t want to give your opponent too many chances to outnumber you on the ice.
It will certainly ring true in Round One, when the Rangers face Washington’s #1 ranked power play, which converted at a 26.8% rate this season. The Blueshirts must continue to play disciplined hockey, but that could be tricky; Washington’s offense isn’t just a handful on the power play, the Capitals rank fourth overall in offense and possess the league’s hottest scorer, the resurgent Alex Ovechkin.
You might have heard that Ovechkin was left for dead and then came roaring back with 27 goals in his final 32 games to end up leading the league. Unsurprisingly, Ovechkin did his most damage on the power play, where he netted 16 goals, a ridiculous six more than the league’s second-most productive player, Steven Stamkos. Read more »
Per Andrew Gross, Marc Staal has been announced as the Rangers’ nominee for the Bill Masterton trophy. The Masterton is awarded to the player “who best exemplifies dedication, perseverance and sportsmanship to hockey.” Staal overcame a concussion that cost him half of last season, and has been out since March after taking a puck to the eye.
Gross also noted that Dan Girardi won this year’s Rangers John Halligan Good Guy Award. The Halligan Award is given to the “Ranger considered to have cooperated the most with the media during the season and previous winners (Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan and Henrik Lundqvist) ineligible.”
Rick Nash needs to find twine again. Starting tonight.
It’s a game day. It’s the Florida Panthers who always seem to trip up our boys in blue. If ever there was an occasion not to play down to the level of your opponents it’s tonight. Let’s jump into the musings.
Rick Nash needs to be better. The past few games – starting with a few turnovers against the Islanders – he hasn’t been that dominant forward we’ve enjoyed for the most part of the year. This is the time of the year you need your best to be your best. That said, I think we see a strong game from Nash tonight.
For those of you that haven’t seen it, this is a nice little article on Lundqvist, on TSN. Just shows even without being a particularly old goalie, how much respect Lundqvist carries and what kind of impact he’s had on the league. There are probably many league goalies that look to The King for tips.
This time of the year, it’s about results. These next three games are in my view not just must wins but should wins. A team that needs points with the Rangers’ talent level should be maxing points in this next three. In fact, if the Rangers play to their talent level (a big ask this season for sure) there’s no reason they cannot win at least five of six. Big ask, but doable.
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Per John Giannone, Marc Staal is traveling with the club to Pittsburgh and then to Carolina
and Toronto. There is still no time-table for his return, so don’t expect him to be returning to the lineup during this trip, but it is a step in the right direction. It was reported two days ago that Staal was working out off the ice, and it appears that he has ramped up those workouts. The optimist in me thinks he can be ready for the playoffs, but I still wouldn’t plan on having him back at all this season.
In the best news Rangers fans could possibly hope for on deadline day, Marc Staal was at the practice facility today doing an off-ice workout according to Katie Strang. Strang was told that Staal is “progressing, but slowly.”
Obviously Staal’s potential return is off in the distance, but this may be an indication that there’s hope Staal could play again this year. That would be a far better addition than anyone the Rangers might acquire on deadline day.
Del Zotto has been solid lately, much needed by the Rangers
It won’t be a popular topic with many Rangers fans, but Michael Del Zotto has quietly gone about playing some very good hockey since returning from his injury. This return to form is also coinciding with the Rangers recent strong run, which is no coincidence.
Del Zotto’s form has been overshadowed by Ryan McDonagh’s own return to form, Marc Staal’s injury, Rick Nash’s free scoring ways and the partial re-emergence of a powerplay that has begun to make a positive difference once again (finally?). Perhaps this is the best way for Del Zotto. He gets the opportunity to float under the radar, and have the attention focused elsewhere.
In not being blamed for every defensive error committed by the Rangers, and partially forgotten about on the offensive side of the puck, Del Zotto has had the opportunity to play himself back in to form in relative peace and quiet. While other players take the plaudits, Del Zotto has gotten better.
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It looks like we have some positive news on the Marc Staal front. Per Kevin Paul Dupont, the Rangers expect Staal to miss an additional two or three weeks, assuming no setbacks in the recovery process. That represents the best possible scenario, and is great news for Staal and the Rangers.
The Rangers need Gaborik and the offense to help accommodate for Staal’s injury
It may seem an odd statement to make in light of an important defenseman being lost to injury, but the Rangers offense will need to produce consistently now more than ever. Despite the addition of Roman Hamrlik and the presence of multiple defensemen on the roster, the Rangers cannot reasonably expect to fill the void Marc Staal will leave. This is despite the presence of Henrik Lundqvist and the still impressive, remaining top four blueliners.
Any time a team loses a player of Marc Staal’s ability it’s going to hurt. When Staal went down the Rangers lost their best offensive blueliner (going by points alone), and lost a player that had returned to his All Star defensive best. Take an All Star who plays over twenty three minutes a game out of any line-up (except maybe the Blackhawks…) and you cannot reasonably expect the same performance level.
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