Archive for Marc Staal
Ever since Jordan Staal turned down a 10-year, $60 million contract extension from Pittsburgh last June, leading to a blockbuster draft day trade to the Hurricanes, Rangers fans have been panicked about Marc Staal’s desire to join his three brothers in Carolina.
Marc himself has never given us any reason to believe he’s anything but thrilled to be playing in New York, but it’s of course not a giant leap to think the four Staal brothers have discussed playing together.
With Marc set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2015, many nervous Rangers fans have suggested that GM Glen Sather phone Carolina GM Jim Rutherford and see what he can get for Marc now, well in advance of the end of Marc’s contract, before his trade value depreciates.
There are a couple of problems with this:
Rick Nash and Marc Staal were 2 of 47 invited to Canadian Olympic camp, as Canada looks to form their team from this group. Nash was on the 2006 and 2010 rosters, but Staal was left off the 2010 roster after receiving an invite. Dan Girardi was notably absent from the list, but there are a lot of big names there.
With the NHL draft behind us, the attention turns to the free agency period beginning on July 5th. In the mean time, teams begin to offload salary and make roster changes in anticipation of auction season. One of the moves that has already been made has seen Vancouver place Keith Ballard on waivers (regular waives, not buyout waivers). While the Rangers have already attempted to add blueline depth by adding Justin Falk, the Rangers could consider taking a risk on Keith Ballard.
Ballard has been a marginal player for the Canucks despite having a cap numbing $4.2m cap hit. His contract doesn’t come off the books until after the 2014/15 season. That said, Ballard is only 30, can skate well and is a solid player at both ends of the rink when he’s on his game. Much of the decision here depends on the organization’s intentions with Michael Del Zotto (once again thrown into the rumour mill by Brooks) and the health of Marc Staal. With Mike Sauer no longer in contention, the Rangers would really solidify their blueline if Ballard would pan out.
Defense was a hallmark of the 2011-2012 New York Rangers. It was arguably the key ingredient in their run to the Eastern Conference Finals. They had an unwavering commitment to shot-blocking and solid play in their own end. Even without a ton of roster turnover, the unit was not as proficient as they were last season, but still had a solid campaign overall. Let’s look at the individual contributions of each blue liner…
McDonagh experienced a slight drop off from his 2011-2012 form, but overall showed off a much more well-rounded game. Although his point totals remained very similar to last season, he showed an increased willingness to jump up into the play and be more involved in the offense. He still plays a top-notch, shutdown defensive game and can eat workhorse minutes. As his offensive game improves, he could develop into a Norris level defenseman. Let’s not forget, he’s only 24. A-
The Rangers were able to keep their season going/salvage some dignity last night with a dramatic OT win over the Bruins at MSG. My sister-in-law, who is an ER nurse, was working last night and catching bits and pieces of the game on a hospital TV. Between the third period and OT, she posted on Facebook, “Ok Rangers, I kept my patient alive, you can keep this game alive!”. It was a nice microcosm of the attitude of Ranger fandom, and her defiant faith was rewarded. The Blueshirts still have quite the task ahead, but as they say, “one game at a time”. Since we are heading back to Boston tomorrow, I thought I’d share some thoughts about the game and series in general…
- Henrik Lundqvist was stellar again last night. The funny thing about The King in this series is that he gets blasted for Game 2 (simply due to the number of goals allowed), but I thought he was hung out to dry big time in that game. For me, if the Rangers fall say, one game short, the missed opportunity will have been Game 1. Both of the regulation goals in that game were stoppable, and the complexion of this series could have been very different going to New York.
- As Ranger fans, we tend to focus on our team’s shortcomings in the event of failure. Let’s not forget in this instance, the Boston Bruins are a very good team. They can roll four lines for 60 minutes and have plenty of system depth. We didn’t have a Torey Krug or Matt Bartkowski to slot into the lineup when Marc Staal got hurt. Many fans are going to lament the teams goal scoring woes, and seek to bolster the offense in the offseason, but I think quality depth is the number one priority at this stage. Read More→
Something that was very obvious during yesterday’s loss was that the Rangers defense had a lot of trouble matching up and shutting down the Bruins forwards. Prior to the series, coach John Tortorella swapped his defense pairings to prepare for a much deeper Bruins club. In doing so, he split up Dan Girardi/Ryan McDonagh, and put Girardi with Michael Del Zotto.
Let’s be clear about one thing, Del Zotto is a top-four defenseman in this league. He’s a top-50 guy, which puts him in the upper echelon of second pairing defensemen. He’s not perfect, he’s not going to do well against the top scorers in the league, but he will be able to hold his own. That said, the pairing of Del Zotto/Girardi has never worked. It didn’t work two years ago, it didn’t work last year, it won’t work this year.
Per Pat Leonard, Marc Staal, Ryane Clowe, and Darroll Powe are all out for tonight’s Game Seven in Washington. Powe and Clowe didn’t even travel with the team for the game tonight. With these three out, expect the same lineup as Game Six. It’s worth noting that the Rangers have not dressed their top lineup at all during the postseason.
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.
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.
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→