It’s a pretty obvious statement to make but the Rangers’ top defensive pair of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi are critical to the Rangers hopes of progressing to the Conference finals and beyond. Dan Girardi and, particularly Ryan McDonagh, have been inconsistent in this series but a dominant performance from both – in addition to the assumed performance from Henrik Lundqvist – would go a long way in helping the Rangers clinch in Pittsburgh tonight.
The Rangers live and die by their defensive core. McDonagh was a plus one and logged over 26 minutes in the emotional game six victory Sunday and had a goal and assist and almost 27 minutes of ice time in game five. The result? Two huge victories and another game seven for the Rangers to look forward to.
The Rangers are a much tougher proposition when their top pair are on their games and following an indifferent start to the playoffs, McDonagh’s form is trending in the right direction. It has to continue tonight if the Rangers want success. This team can invest in as many offensive players as it wants but their success will always begin and end with players #30, #5 and #27.
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It’s funny how the playoffs work. During the regular season, sample sizes grow and long-term narratives take hold. Discussions emerge, debates rage and quantitative analyses are produced. The playoffs are a whole different animal. Most factors surrounding playoff teams are fleeting. Only as relevant as the last game. This makes life exceptionally difficult on hockey writers. Especially when your piece could become completely irrelevant in the next twenty-four hours.
At BSB, we prefer to take the long view and allow our analysis to play out over the appropriate sample. This is difficult this time of year, and the luxury of research and trial and error aren’t guaranteed. It’s this phenomenon that has grown my fondness for these “thoughts” posts. You may think that they are very similar to Chris’ musings posts. You’d be wrong. His are better. But for now, you’re stuck with me. Here are some Ranger related thoughts heading into Friday’s clash in Philly…
- It’s really nice to see Marty St. Louis coming to life in these playoffs. He is so sneaky and elusive that the suspect back line for the Flyers can’t do much about him, especially with Nash on the ice to worry about. Still not a fan of giving up the first round picks when Slats kinda had Yzerman dead to rights in negotiations, but I think St. Louis will be a huge factor in any success the Rangers have this postseason.
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RMcD = MVP? Photo Credit: LoHud
Today is the day a rivalry gets renewed. The Rangers entertain the Flyers tonight in a much anticipated series. Let’s throw a few musings up.
The series against the Flyers represents a no-win situation for the Rangers. In all honesty, there is not a huge amount separating the two teams but yet everyone expects the Rangers to win. The Flyers have a ton of talent but are very flawed. That said, it wouldn’t be the greatest of shocks if they beat the Rangers but it would cause serious fall-out in New York.
Is there a single Ranger forward you wouldn’t swap for Claude Giroux?
Beyond the obvious (Hank, McD, Nash), who holds they key to the second round for the Rangers? Mats Zuccarello. He has been the Rangers best powerplay forward all year and you have to assume the Flyers will take more penalties than the Rangers. If the Rangers can stay out of the box and Zuccarello can work some PP magic that may be the decisive factor.
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Per Andrew Gross, injured defenseman Ryan McDonagh has confirmed that he is 100%, and will return for the playoffs. McDonagh has been out since April 1, after taking a “questionable” hit from Vancouver’s Alex Burrows late in the third period. Although he is 100%, he will not be playing tonight in Montreal.
In addition to McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Martin St. Louis, and Henrik Lundqvist will also be out of the lineup tonight to get some much deserved and/or needed rest. For Girardi, this will be just the fifth (!!!) game he has missed in his entire NHL career (two last season, two in 2010-2011).
People may not agree with Alain Vigneault here, but the game tonight is meaningless. There’s no point in ruining Hank’s confidence (he has a better shot at being president of the US than winning in Montreal it seems); it’s a good idea to give Girardi some time to order some new robot parts for his body; and it’s probably a good idea to get MSL out of his own head.
Per Andrew Gross, both Ryan McDonagh and Chris Kreider were skating today at the Rangers optional skate. Neither did intensive work, with McDonagh doing some light skating and Kreider gripping his stick with one hand, but it’s a good sign to see them skating. Alain Vigneault did not give a timetable for either’s return, but did mention he is unsure if he wants McDonagh to return before the playoffs. Naturally, Kreider needs to grip a stick with two hands before he returns.
There’s no need to rush either guy. There’s a week before the playoffs start, let them get that extra week.
Per Andrew Gross, defenseman Ryan McDonagh is out tonight and is day-to-day after being on the receiving end of a questionable hit –that received no supplemental discipline– from Alex Burrows. John Moore, who has been out since March 21, will take McDonagh’s spot in the lineup.
Little man get paid big?
Yes, I know Dave gave you a Musings this morning. Whatever. You’re being spoiled today with two. As the Rangers close in on a playoff spot, form, health and special teams become so incredibly important at this time of the year. With the Avalanche on tap this evening, let’s have a muse for the second time today.
It’s nice to see the Captain (the real captain) holds no apparent bitterness toward the Rangers following his coaching snub last summer. Mark Messier says the Rangers have a chance at the Cup and, if they avoid the Bruins, there’s no reason to think they can’t go far if health and form holds up.
That said, the Rangers cannot go far in the post season without a better powerplay and consistency from Nash, St Louis, Richards – in that order. The defense will keep this team in games, Henrik Lundqvist will steal games but the offense needs to spot the King a lead or two. Stating the obvious?
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Kreider is only of several draftees from the US system (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
When you look at the current Rangers roster, there are plenty of examples how the Rangers have successfully looked to the American hockey program and how the franchise has a preference for American trained players. Whether it be the drafting of Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller or Carl Hagelin, the free agent signing of Cam Talbot or the now infamous acquisition of Ryan McDonagh, the Rangers have had significant success with their recent focus on US trained players.
It goes beyond the current roster. The Rangers system currently boasts several players who have either come through the US development program or the NCAA system. Whether it be Conor Allen, Ryan Bourque or Danny Kristo already at the pro level, or prospects such as ‘Boo’ Nieves, Steve Fogarty and Brady Skjei still in college, the Rangers have continued to look toward the US system for success.
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The. Best. Goalie. In. The. World. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
The Rangers are riding a strong run of form, have a goalie close to his peak and beat the Flyers with relative ease Wednesday night. With so many positives let’s muse.
They wouldn’t be the Philadelphia Flyers if they wouldn’t look to start something at the end of a game in which they’re losing, would they? Completely classless franchise.
I had a discussion with some friends today; are the Flyers the least classy organisation in sport?
McDonagh I: I’ve been banging the Ryan McDonagh drum for weeks now. He’s a bonafide elite, Norris worthy defenseman. He’s taken the next step that Marc Staal has always been close to taking but for various reasons (usually injury) hasn’t quite made. This year McDonagh went from being a quality two way defenseman to being a dominant linchpin of a quality defensive unit.
McDonagh II: Jaromir Jagr is perhaps the single greatest trade/acquisition in the Glen Sather era. Or is he? Has the McDonagh trade taken over Jagr as being the best move of the Sather reign? The trade with Montreal allowed so many dominoes to fall in place and that’s without factoring in the top 10 NHL defenseman he has become.
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Photo Credit: LoHud
If there is one award that is up in the air this year, it is the Norris Trophy for best defenseman. Only once in the post-Lidstrom era has a purely offensive defenseman (Erik Karlsson) won the award, but the award does generally lean towards those with pretty offensive numbers (although that’s clearly not the only criteria, or else Mike Green would have won a few times). The award goes to the guy that can play in all three zones, and be one of the best in the league at doing so. It’s why guys like Lidstrom, Zdeno Chara, Duncan Keith, and Chris Pronger are (were) always in the running. It’s why we expect P.K. Subban to be in the running for the majority of his career.
But yet, Ryan McDonagh seems to be an afterthought for this award. I don’t think I’ve even seen him mentioned in the conversation this year. But yet, he sits 12th in defensive scoring with a line of 13-29-42 on an offensively starved Rangers squad. The four guys from 8th-11th are all on non-playoff teams. We still don’t hear his name mentioned, despite him playing almost 25 minutes per game (13th in the league).
So who do we constantly hear about for the Norris? This year, it appears to be Keith’s award to lose. But we also hear a lot about Subban, Shea Weber, Alex Pietrangelo, and Ryan Suter. All great defensemen, but where does McDonagh line up with all these guys?
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