As was the case seven years ago, the NHL owners and players are very far apart heading into the final months of labor negotiations prior to the scheduled open of the 2012-2013 season. If there aren’t some serious compromises by both sides, it’s unlikely that the season will start on time.
While that’s an unpleasant thought for Rangers fans, it also might be a good thing for the team’s fortunes next season, assuming it is held in a shortened fashion.
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Oh where to start with this one…. Alexander Semin is known to be soft, he has an awful reputation for disappearing when a season matters most and he’s outstayed his welcome in Washington on a team that collectively has (massively) underachieved. Despite all this, there is a lot to like about Semin as a potential free agent target.
Barring a generous contract offer from the KHL, or an offer from one of the NHL’s lottery teams desperate for a quick fix, Semin is highly unlikely to get the same kind of money he earned this season ($6m) this summer. If Semin wants to play for a team with playoff/Cup aspirations, he will certainly need to keep his demands relatively modest.
Semin has a wicked shot and is a pure goal scorer who has proven he can be a point/game player in the NHL. There are not many of those to be had on the cheap. He can produce offensive on his own, something that he had to do a lot of in Washington because for most of his tenure the Caps lacked a skilled second line center to take advantage of Semin’s ability. Alex Ovechkin (rightly so) was the main beneficiary of Nicklas Backstrom’s playmaking abilities leaving Semin to play with the likes of Troy Brouwer, Marcus Johansson, and aging veterans such as Jason Arnott and Brendan Morrison.
There are several legitimate reasons to consider Semin as an option for the Rangers.
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Despite showing an unexpected offensive upside at the NHL level in his rookie year the Rangers will be better placed for a long term, successful era when Carl Hagelin is flying down the left wing on the third line. He won’t be a casualty of depth but could be the difference maker because of it.
Make no mistake Hagelin exceeded expectations this year (despite a generally subpar playoffs ), showed his flexibility in terms of ability to slide up and down the line-up, while also surprising many with his ability to play on the top line and not look out of depth alongside marquee NHL talent such as Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. However, there are a few reasons why Hagelin’s future may lie further down the line-up – something that is no insult by any stretch.
As discussed extensively, there is a good chance that the Rangers will pursue a high end, skilled forward this summer to help remedy the main causes of their playoff series loss to the Devils in particular. The main reasons the Rangers lost were inconsistent – to be polite – goal scoring and a (still) subpar powerplay. Bringing in someone like the oft mentioned Zach Parise should help remedy both areas of need. Needless to say, bringing in a big ticket like Parise means ice time and an integral role for the new recruit. It likely means top line duty and will bump other players further down the roster – including Hagelin.
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After taking most of the day to digest the bombshell of Marian Gaborik’s torn labrum, I’ve come to the glass half-full conclusion that there’s good and bad to be drawn from the news.
Timing – Obviously Gaborik was hampered by his injury during the playoffs, but if you’re choosing to look towards the future, it’s a good thing this happened now and not in October. Gaborik now has four full months to recover before the start of the season and even if he were out for the full six months suggested by doctors, he’d still be able to play a considerable chunk of the season. Better yet, the extent of the injury was discovered prior to any offseason player movement, giving the front office time to rethink and revise its plan of attack for the summer. Offense was the team’s primary need before the injury and that hasn’t changed, but at least GM Glen Sather and company know just where they stand. If this injury happened in training camp, the team would be able to do little in reaction and could be looking at severely weakened chances of winning the Atlantic Division crown.
Potential lockout – Of course none of us want a lockout, but there exists the very real possibility that the 2012-2013 season will be shortened. If it takes the owners and players a month or two to hash out their differences, Gaborik could actually be ready to go from the outset. Don’t do anything foolish and start praying for a work stoppage, but if your primary concern is finishing as high as possible in the Eastern Conference again, then having a healthy Gaborik on board for a shortened season may be the best thing to hope for.
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According to nhl.com, Marian Gaborik had an MRI on Tuesday and learned that he has a torn labrum. He told Slovakian newspaper SME that he will undergo surgery next Wednesday and could be out up to 5-6 months, though that timetable will likely change after surgery.
As we mentioned in our report cards the other day, you can now forgive Gabby for under-performing during the playoffs. You also have to respect the man for taking pain injections and still going out there and competing. Even with a torn rotator he was able to 86 the Caps and put up 11 points in 20 games, far more than some of our healthy players.
Anyway, we will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.
It’s a depressing musing day. It’s the day between games and we’re potentially a day away from the end of the season. If you’re negative that is. Anyway, let’s get on to the musings.
Marian Gaborik scored. Ryan Callahan scored. The offense wasn’t the issue in the game five defeat. The defense was subpar and above all the Rangers couldn’t keep the Devils top players in check. Kovalchuk, Parise and Zajac combined for 5 points. The Rangers have yet to play a game this series (arguably all playoffs) where every facet of their game – defense, goaltending, offense, special teams – has clicked at the same time.
I read a few things today where people have begun to criticise Lundqvist, because of game five. If I meet any of these people in person I may very well attack them. I loves me a good beat down. I cannot tolerate mindless fools and/or drama queens. Step away from the ledge.
Whether it was injury or not; Ryan Callahan, despite being impressive in game five, hasn’t been the offensive force in these playoffs that he needs to be. That says a lot. Why? The Rangers have one heck of a leader and all rounder hockey player in Cally. However, on offensively strong teams Callahan would be an offensive compliment not a go-to-guy.
I think tiredness is present in the Rangers but it’s maybe overstated. I think sometimes the media create stories and players and teams can often buy into them, believe them. Is that going on here?
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That the Rangers are two wins away from the Stanley Cup final is down to the impressive work rate, team ethic and application of the roster and the coaching staff. That the team is almost running on empty and may perhaps fall short of the Finals is because of the way the team plays, the style and energy required to play that way. That said, whatever happens the rest of the season it has been a hugely successful one. More importantly, the way the Rangers play promises so much for the future.
Teams can be blessed with skill and can fall short because of a lack of heart, character or work ethic. It’s hard to acquire those traits. It’s easier to acquire talent. The Rangers have gone about it the right way and that is why this team should be a contender for the foreseeable future.
That the team (currently) struggle to score goals consistently is down to the fact the club has a lack of in their prime skill players – Gaborik and Richards aside. Players like Stepan and Anisimov, Kreider and Hagelin are still developing. This is one of the youngest clubs in the entire league. Players such as Ryan Callahan need to be complemented with skill. It’s this combination of youth however that should develop in to quality scorers even if it’s not happening just yet.
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So we get a lot of questions on Twitter, and it is unfortunate that we cannot always respond to every question. In an attempt to address the most popular questions, we are going to start with these “Twitter Bag” posts, where we answer some of the more consistent questions we get on Twitter. We love addressing these, so keep them coming, and we will do everything we can to answer each question sent to us.
Q: Why is Stu Bickel playing still? Wouldn’t Jeff Woywitka or Steve Eminger have a better effect?
A: It’s tough to really say why Bickel is still in the lineup. He played better on Saturday with double the normal amount of ice time, but his usual three minutes don’t really give him an opportunity to be a difference maker. Tortorella likes him because of his physical ability, which is something that neither Woywitka nor Eminger really have. Eminger is ahead of Woywitka on the depth chart, so we can essentially eliminate Woywitka from the occasion (barring injury). In terms of ability, Eminger is a marginally better skater than Bickel, but it is clear Torts likes the latter. I think the club can benefit from having someone like Eminger take more than three minutes of ice time, but only if Torts trusts him to do so.
Q: Why did Torts bench Chris Kreider? Isn’t that sending the wrong message?
A: I’m in the minority that agrees with the benching. The club is in a tough spot of trying to teach the kid on the fly while winning games in the playoffs. That turnover –and Hank’s flub– was the direct cause of the goal. Every other youngster that Torts has coached has seen significant time on the bench when similar mistakes are made. It would be a coaching inconsistency to not bench Kreider. Lesson learned. He won’t do it again.
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The amount of hatred throw at Marian Gaborik for the Rangers loss last night, or for any loss in general, is frighteningly disturbing. I understand the need to have a scapegoat for a loss, but picking on someone who had an assist in the game and was nowhere near invisible is just irrational. The guy isn’t Wojtek Wolski. He’s not Erik Christensen. He’s not invisible out there.
Gaborik, in fact, is second on the team in scoring in the playoffs, with five points (1-4-5) in nine games thus far. Only Brad Richards has more points than him. It would be nice if he shot the puck a bit more (just 16 shots on goal so far), but that’s not a measure of how well he’s playing.
Gaborik is in fact creating offensive plays, finding open ice, and giving his teammates opportunities to score. Look at last night’s goal by Richards for an example of what Gaborik is doing to create offense for the team. As Suit pointed out, Gaborik found the open ice after blown coverage and a bad change by Brooks Laich. After getting the puck, he feathered a perfect pass to Richards for a tap-in goal.
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Welcome to the biggest game in the Rangers recent history, well since the lock out. Those of you who disagree, by all means do so but it doesn’t get much bigger than a do or die game 7 on home ice as the conference’s top seed. Especially with the defending champs and possibly biggest threat (Pens) already out. Musings Time.
Marian Gaborik needs to step up yes, but he hasn’t been that bad. We need more of him, but its times like this that attention is given to the guys like Gaborik and depth guys step up. Exhibit A: Brian Boyle. Exhibit B: Chris Kreider.
Brandon Dubinsky has zero points in six games. Would you like me to remind you how much he earns? What’s the likelihood Dubinsky plays well tonight? I didn’t think so either. See you in a different uniform next October Brandon.
Henrik Lundqvist, Vezina Trophy nominee. Well we’ve heard that before. I just hope the voters take into account the division he played in, his absolute position as most vital Ranger and the fact well, hey… it’s his turn.
The Pens are out. The Bruins are out. The Caps have a goaltending sub plot this April. The Devils and the Panthers aren’t all that scary…. Hey, if this team actually gets past this tricky, awkward Senators team there’s real opportunity to progress. Yes, I am not concerned about the team with Bryzgalov in net.
I wonder how long Brian Boyle is going to be out and how damaging that is to the Rangers (assuming they can squeak past Ottawa).
Respect Time: There is a legitimate chance Daniel Alfredsson, a true modern great of the game, plays his last NHL game tonight at the Garden. Against any other team I’d hope he had a few left in him. Maybe he comes back next year but if he doesn’t…. happy retirement Danny boy.
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