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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– Only five players have more game-winning goals than Rick Nash (6).
– Only Alex Ovechkin is averaging more shots per game than Rick Nash (4.1).
– Only nine players have more points against their own division than Mats Zuccarello’s 21.
– Only eight players have more penalty minutes on home ice than Chris Kreider (53). Only Dallas’s Antoine Roussel has actually committed more penalties on home ice than Kreider (20).
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After Tuesday’s disappointing and above all unnecessary loss to the Lightning, the Rangers take on Detroit tonight. Absolutely there for the taking, the Rangers need to avoid a let down game against the Wings who are depleted and not what they were a couple years back. Let’s hit the musings for the first time in a while shall we?
Careful what you wish for: For all the moaning and concerns about the Rangers start to the year, consider the state of the Wings franchise right now. A squad with a few core aging players (think Alfredsson, Kronwall, Bertuzzi, Samuelsson and Cleary) and not a huge amount coming through their system (relatively speaking, of course). The Rangers on the other hand are younger, with a pipeline that while not chock full of talent is far from empty. The Rangers could be in a lot worse shape compared to many teams in the league.
Just when you thought he’d turned a page, Michael Del Zotto has a major lapse in the Tampa loss. That’s why he is so frustrating; for all the good, there is always some bad just around the corner.
The Rangers MVP after the halfway mark? Ryan McDonagh. Undoubtedly without McDonagh, the defense – which has been in a state of flux all year anyway – would have been in big trouble. His offense is also developing quickly.
Talking contracts: How much can Ryan – I can’t stay healthy – Callahan really command and get come contract time? Is it possible that he demands more than the Rangers can offer?
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The steadiest of the steady (Elsa/Getty Images)
Suit kicked off our annual midseason grades yesterday with his review of Alain Vigneault and the coaching staff. As Suit mentioned in his preamble, we all hand out ‘performance grades’ around the mid-way point of the regular season and just after the commencement of the playoffs. As always, these grades aren’t just based on stats, but also the execution of each personnel or player’s respective role within the organization.
We do not take these grades lightly. Each grade is very well thought out. For the defense, I graded based on two areas: on-ice performance based on role on team, stats (both traditional and #fancy) based on role. It’s important to note that I stressed role on the team. This means that a player like Dan Girardi will be graded based on his role as a shutdown performer, and Michael Del Zotto on his offensive contributions.
A quick note about the numbers being used: Goals-Assists-Points, Corsi, OZone starts, Quality of Competition faced. Details here.
Ryan McDonagh (6-17-23, 51.3% Corsi, 47.4% OZ starts, 29.6% ToTm QoC)
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Photo: The Score
Dion Phaneuf. Yes, I said it. The Rangers have a huge question mark in an area – defense – which on paper at least, they have had good depth. Michael Del Zotto is likely, barring a stunning turnaround, on his way out of New York in the summer (at the latest). Marc Staal’s long term future is full of doubt due to injury. That leaves –on paper– two key cogs: Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. McDonagh is a stud, he’s a future, perennial Norris candidate if he gets some support; unfortunately Dan Girardi is no longer the guy to provide it.
Girardi’s game appears in decline, and yet he’ll still get paid handsomely in the summer, based on past achievements. His play this year has been underwhelming (on a team that, in his defense, has collectively underwhelmed) and he hasn’t been the same consistent presence we grew to appreciate, for the last two years. That’s a long time, playing under his normal assumed levels, to commit to a long term future at a big financial cost.
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I was casually watching (a DVR of) some Saturday afternoon hockey between the Senators and the Coyotes when something struck me as strange; no, it wasn’t that all of the Sens goals came from not-your-average offensive player, it was that Lauri Korpikoski (or as I fondly call him, the Korpedo) got an assist. “Wow,” I thought aloud to myself, as I often do in my apartment, “the Korpedo is still alive? I wonder what other Rangers are still dabbling around the West.” And so, here is my post for today…
John Tortorella, Head Coach with the Rangers 2008-2013 | Now: Canucks Head Coach
Well, duh. Whether you loved or hated Torts’ exit last summer, you definitely had strong feelings about it. Awful with the media? Yep. Kind of mean to the players in public? Sure. Known for a hardcore training camp that would kill you or me? Absolutely. But still, for his time in New York, stats prove that you cannot deny his efficiency; in five seasons, he missed the playoffs once. However, his relationship with players, the media, and his lack of a championship ring on Broadway eventually shuttled him out and on his way to the Pacific Northwest. So, how is he now? Efficient. His Canucks have 48 points, winning 8 of their last 10 with one of those losses in OT. They were a bit shaky at first but it seems that they have adjusted to the system, and shockingly for many Rangers fans, the stars are responding and thriving under Torts’ hard-nosed approach. As a fan who was sad to see him go, I didn’t miss his outbursts like he showed at MSG against Alex Edler; however, it appears these guys can handle it. Hey, maybe Torts will find Musky in Vancouver, who knows.
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Best case: Johnson is an adequate depth defender and is significantly better than Stu Bickel in spot duty.
Worst case: Johnson is no better than Bickel and the Rangers are back where they were last year if top-six blueliners get hurt.
Best case: Stralman continues to be an unsung hero for the Blueshirts and finally earns the attention he deserves with a standout campaign, including some gaudy power play numbers.
Worst case: Stralman’s hold on the #6 job loosens and Justin Falk pushes him for playing time. Read more »