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Posts tagged: Ruslan Fedotenko

The new bottom six forwards

Over the past few days, we have seen some fairly significant roster turnover for the Rangers. While the majority of the core remains intact, the Rangers saw Arron Asham and Taylor Pyatt come in to –for all intents and purposes– replace Brandon Prust, Ruslan Fedotenko, and John Mitchell.

We’ve analyzed Asham versus Prust and Pyatt versus Fedotenko individually. But to be fair, you need to compare both Asham and Pyatt versus Fedotenko, Prust, and Mitchell to get a real idea of where the Rangers stand after three days of free agency.

Using the same metrics as the two posts prior, let’s look at the defensive metrics of these five players combined:

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Getting to know Taylor Pyatt

When the Rangers inked Taylor Pyatt to a two-year deal last night, there were more quizzical expressions than when the Rangers signed Arron Asham. The signing of Pyatt likely means that Ruslan Fedotenko is done in New York, like the way Asham’s signing meant Brandon Prust was done in New York. The swapping of bottom-six players isn’t all that uncommon, as players bolt for paydays and teams part ways for cheaper options.

But as we pointed out before, the Rangers downgraded (albeit slightly) in Asham over Prust to save some cap space. Pyatt’s signing of $1.55 million annually is a $155,000 raise over what Fedotenko brought last year for similar offensive production. While this isn’t a clear-cut substitution the way Asham was for Prust, there is still some comparison to be made between Pyatt and Fedotenko.

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Stay or Go: Ruslan Fedotenko

Aside from John Mitchell, the only other pending UFA that the Rangers fan base seems to be divided about is Ruslan Fedotenko. Both players are bottom six players –an area of strength for the Rangers– and both do more than their offensive stats suggest. Players like Fedotenko are evaluated beyond their offensive numbers. It’s the defensive metrics that really show where Fedotenko’s strengths (or weaknesses) lie.

Fedotenko is coming off his one year, $1.4 million contract that he earned after a great season in 2010-2011. Signed after a PTO prior to that season, Fedotenko has been a useful addition for the past two seasons. Showing solid chemistry with Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust, Fedotenko completed a trio that was used primarily as a shut down combination.

Let’s get the advanced metrics out of the way: Feds finished with a miserable -10.0 RCorsi, a .012 QoC (5th highest on the team), and started just 36.5% of his shifts in the offensive zone. In fact, his season can pretty much be summed up in that zone start percentage. Feds was used by the coaching staff to help defend his own zone and allow the scorers to do their thing. Despite the fact that Feds started such a low percentage of shifts in the offensive zone, he managed to finish 47.9% of those shifts in the offensive zone. That shows a man that is doing his job.

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Rangers final grades: Bottom six forwards

The bottom six forwards get a raw deal sometimes. Many base their usefulness on their offensive output, and unfortunately that is just not the role of the bottom six forward. Sure, contributing offensively is nice, but the role of these players is to shut down the opposition’s top lines. They are the ones that do the dirty work, they keep the opposing goons in check, they wear down the opposition.

So based on the above,  let me reiterate these grades are based on the players executing their specific roles within our team concept. This isn’t just based on stats.

Brian Boyle

Boy did Boyle have some major responsibilities this season. He was generally responsible for lining up against the opposition’s top scorers and was given the job of shutting them down. He also was the guy that Torts turned to when he needed a defensive zone face off win. People look to his drop in scoring (11-15-26 this year, a drop from 21-14-35 last year) and they assume Boyle has just been awful. That’s not the case. Boyle started just 28.8% of all his shifts in the offensive zone, good for lowest rate on the team. But yet, he managed to finish 43.9% of his shifts in the offensive zone. The result: a player that did his job. He handled the defensive zone pressure and set up the Rangers in the offensive zone.  Oh, and he was tied with Brad Richards and John Mitchell for second on the team in face off win percentage (51.8%).

In the playoffs, Boyle was clearly getting under the Ottawa Senators’ skin, which is why Chris Neil decided to target him with a head shot. Boyle was one of the most effective Ranger forwards before the concussion, and was clearly not the same after. Mid-season: B/Full Season: A-/Playoffs: B+.

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Musings After Five

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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Musings: Is there a captain that means more to his team than Ryan Callahan?

It’s been a while since I’ve written the musings here. This is generally Chris’ post, but he’s currently “indisposed.” So I’ve taken them over. Feel free to use your own interpretation of “indisposed” and make fun of Chris in the comments.

The Captain

How about that Ryan Callahan eh? He does everything for the Rangers. It is clear why he is the heart and soul of the team, and why he was named captain at the beginning of this season. There are very few captains in the NHL that mean as much to their team than Cally does to the Rangers. In fact, I can only think of a few: Jonathan Toews, Jarome Iginla, Dustin Brown, and Shane Doan.

Hot Richards

Brad Richards sure has been something of late. With last night’s goal, the alternate captain has 15 points in the month of March (6-9-15), a span of 12 games. He has the most points in the month of March than any other player, and is getting back on track to clear 60 points. When the Rangers signed Richards, expectations were that he would clear 60 points most seasons, and have a few seasons clearing 70 points. Considering the effect he’s had on Michael Del Zotto’s turn around, I’ll take 60 points and leadership/bettering others over 70 points any day.

Rough stretch for Del Zotto

Speaking of Del Zotto, he hasn’t looked the same since that hip injury. Maybe he’s just favoring it a bit, or maybe he’s just hitting a slump. But that lateral pass on the powerplay last night was last year’s version of Del Zotto, not this year’s version. The kid still has a lot of learning and growing to do, but mark my words, every mistake he makes he will learn from. Patience.

Sauer

The Rangers definitely miss Mike Sauer, but not as much as you might think. Tim Erixon and Stu Bickel have filled in very well for the injured defenseman, and while both have a lot to learn still, they are making the loss of Sauer easier to manage. Bickel and Sauer play extremely similar games, so it’s like he was never injured in the first place…except for that stint where Steve Eminger and Anton Stralman comprised the bottom pairing.

Stralman gets a bad rap

One quick note about Stralman: Boy he gets a bad rap here. The guy came in as an UFA signed in the beginning of the season, and had to work his tail off to even get into the lineup. When injuries started to mount, he played top four minutes and helped Del Zotto along in his development. Once players like Bickel started to emerge, and Stralman started to slump, he started getting blame for a lot of things. He filled in well, and was a great signing to help deal with injuries.

So long Fedotenko

Ruslan Fedotenko may be one of the more under appreciated signings Glen Sather has made in the past few years. Last year Feds was magnificent while playing on a line with Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust, forming one of the most formidable shut down checking lines in hockey. This year, the magic just wasn’t there. It wasn’t so much that he appeared to lose a step, it was that others played better, thus passed him on the depth chart. The emergence of Mats Zuccarello was the final nail in the coffin for Feds.

Quick questions:

  • Has Bickel’s emergence made Sauer expendable in the right deal?
  • Would you trade Sauer and Brandon Dubinsky for Bobby Ryan at the draft?
  • Which team scares you more in the playoffs: the Penguins, Flyers, Bruins, or Caps?
  • Over/under 60 points for Cally this year?
  • Over/under 30 goals for Richards?
  • Over/under 40 points for Del Zotto?

Fedotenko makes trip to Boston; McDonagh fine

Per Andrew Gross, Ruslan Fedotenko made the trip to Boston with the team. Considering the Rangers are home on Thursday, it is unlikely that Fedotenko would make the trip without the expectation that he would play. If Fedotenko does play, expect one of Steve Eminger or Stu Bickel to be the healthy scratch tomorrow night against Boston.

In other news, it appears that Ryan McDonagh is just fine. He went down with an apparent ankle injury, as you can see why from the video. It looks like he just rolled it. He’s expected to play as well.

Kris Newbury Called Up

The Rangers have called up Kris Newbury from the CT Whale. The call up is likely a precautionary move to replace Ruslan Fedotenko in the lineup, who left last night’s game with back spasms.

Brandon Dubinsky is still a game time decision with his shoulder injury. If Dubi can play, then Newbury likely won’t  dress. If he can’t then expect to see Newbury slide into Fedotenko’s spot in the lineup.

Mid-Season Report Cards: Bottom Six Forwards

Today we are going to be talking about our unheralded, but no less vital bottom six forwards. Prior to Tortorella’s arrival, the Rangers bottom six was typically composed of too many wannabe skill players like Matt Cullen, Marcel Hossa, etc. The last few years we finally started to value players who understood that their role is to forecheck, backcheck, hit, score dirty goals, and protect their teammates.

Before we get started, let me just reiterate these grades are based on these respective players executing their specific roles within our team concept.

Brian Boyle: Boyle has much improved at faceoffs this season (51.5% vs. 48.5%) and it’s a big reason why the Hagelin-Boyle-Mitchell line was out possessing the opposition. He’s gotten some flak for his offense being down, but he’s pretty much doing everything defensively you could ask from a third line center. He forechecks, he blocks shots, and he doesn’t turn the puck over. I would like to see him lay people out a little more often given his size.

With that said, we are going to need more scoring from our bottom six in the second half and beyond. Boyle is on pace for 4 goals and 16 points, which is down from last season’s 21 goals and 35 points. Icetime isn’t much of an excuse as his avg. icetime last season was 15 mins and change. This season he is skating 14 mins and change. Essentially he’s playing one less shift per game. Grade: B

Ruslan Fedotenko: Feds has been one of the most reliable trenchmen in the game for the past 10 years. Every season he gives you steady corner play, second chance efforts, and 30 points give or take. Most of his strengths are often overlooked because he’s not a puck carrier or a fighter, but he is a strategic insertion in this lineup and he executes Tortorella’s puck pursuit system to a T. The only reason I didn’t grade him higher was because he played on the second line for a while and did squat with it and he could stand to be more physical when playing in a bottom 6 role. Grade: B-

Carl Hagelin: Hagelin is a bottom six player this season, but he won’t be next season. He may not even be a bottom sixer by the end of this season thanks to his explosiveness, escapeability, and positional awareness. As he’s gained more experience, he has also gained more trust from his coach, which is evident in the increase in situations he is being utilized.

The question really is what is this kid’s ceiling? It’s hard to know at this point, but what really impresses me about Hagelin’s game is that his puck handling keeps up with his foot speed. Rico Fata could skate like the wind too, but he had no hands.

Many will write that Hagelin is too small or that he needs to bulk up. To which I say, BS! How many times have you seen him get pancaked and lose the puck? Grade: A

John Mitchell: While many of Avery’s supporters blame his current status on Rupp and Erik Christensen, Mitchell too deserves culpability. Of course Mitchell deserves a spot on this roster over Avery, so you won’t hear any complaints from me.

Mitchell has been a possession monster for us, as he currently leads the team in relative corsi. He’s also been dynamite on the draw (FO 58.6%), he’s quick, and he plays gritty without taking dumb penalties. I’m not sure who scouted this guy in Toronto, but whoever it was deserves credit. Like a glove! Grade: B+

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Rangers/Panthers Recap

The Rangers played a very strong game in another contest that could have easily been a letdown.  The Panthers really hung around in this one behind some solid goaltending by Scott Clemmensen, but in the end, the Blueshirts were too much for Florida, winning 3-2 in overtime.  Onto the bullets…

  • It took the Rangers about 10 minutes during the first period to find their legs, but once that happened they really took it to the Panthers.  There were long stretches during this game that I completely forgot Marty Biron was playing.
  • The Rangers had a huge shots advantage in this one, outshooting the Cats 41-21.  It could have been over 50 if the Rangers could just hit the net a little more.  Obviously, to find major negatives with this team right now is nitpicking, but I just wish they would hit the net when they have a clear lane.  Make the goalie work for it.
  • The Dubi-Richards-Cally combo was the best line on the ice tonight.   They were working down low and moving the puck well.  It seemed like every time they were on the ice Clemmensen had to deal with a puck bouncing around his crease.  Getting garbage to the net is a huge part of this unit’s game and as the Winter Classic confirms, it is quite effective when you can create that kind of havoc in front.
  • Gabby was missing from about the first half of the game, but really came on in the third period and launched that beauty in overtime.  Bad gap control by the Florida defenders on that one.
  • I thought Prust, Fedotenko and Rupp all played tremendous games.  Feds had all kinds of snarl in his performance tonight and Rupp and Prust showed some serious chemistry out there.
  • One thing that played a huge role in the Rangers’ success tonight was the presence of an aggressive forecheck.  Not only does this kind of pressure lead to turnovers and offensive zone chances, but it also tires out the Florida defenders and keeps the puck out of the Rangers’ defensive zone.  It was the main reason the Panthers were held to 21 shots.
  • Speaking of which, another very solid game for the defense.
  • Marty Biron played a solid, if unspectacular game tonight.  The first goal was a beauty, so no fault to Marty there.  The second one, on the other hand, could have sent the momentum right back to Florida.  He got caught leaning/thinking pass and got beat on a shot I’m quite sure he’d want back.  Fortunately, the Rangers held it together and came away with a nice win.  Biron plays such a stoic, calm game, it is sometimes difficult to appreciate him for how easy he makes difficult saves look.  Nothing more you could ask from a backup.
  • As I mentioned before, Clemmensen played a very solid game and controlled rebounds nicely.  I would have loved to see the Rangers challenge him up high more, if nothing else just to change his eye level.  He was the only reason this game made it to overtime.
  • As for any potential bad blood after the Kopecky/Del Zotto incident from the last time the teams met, there was only one notable scrum during this one.  Looks like both teams decided to let sleeping dogs lie.

Right back at to tomorrow as the Rangers travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins at 7pm.