Musings: Bring on the Isles


Since Chris is on his annual pilgrimage to the US of A, you’re all stuck with me for this week’s musings.  I know my questions won’t be anywhere near as poignant or provocative as my colleague from across the pond, but I’m gonna give it the old college try…

After not having seen the Maple Leafs since the middle of January, I’ll admit I was expecting more of the same from Toronto.  I was incorrect.  That team is a pain to play against.  They run an aggressive forecheck and are deadly in transition.  They are going to make someone’s life very difficult in the first round.  As long as their goaltending holds up…

Torts shuffled the lines around big time last night.  While I really enjoy seeing the Nash-Stepan-Cally line together, I understand Tort’s thinking.  The Phaneuf matchup was killing that line and Tort’s needed to give Toronto a different look.  I wasn’t crazy about any of the specific lines he created, and since the Isles don’t have a shut-down number 1 d-man, I’d expect more familiar line combos come Saturday.

I know Hags hasn’t fully cemented himself as a top-6 player just yet, but even when he’s moving up and down the lineup, I think it’s a waste to play him with Boyle or Pyatt. 

Speaking of Pyatt, I have to think he’s the first guy on the block in the off-season if the organization feels that any of the Miller/Kreider/Lindberg/Fast forward core is ready for full-time duty.

Getting back to Chris, I agree with him that Hank is quietly working his way back into the Vezina conversation.  His lack of shutouts will definitely hurt him, as will his relatively slow start, but if the Rangers make the playoffs, he will have been the biggest reason why.  His save on Kadri in overtime was out of this world.  While I felt he was a little off on Monday in Toronto (Hank doesn’t seem to enjoy Canada much, eh?) he was in fine form last night.  Peaking at the right time.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying this little Kovalchuk-less run of ineptitude in Newark…

The Islanders are starting to irritate me.  On paper, they should not be where they are.  Their offense is playoff caliber, and John Tavares is proving he was worth the number one overall pick a couple years ago.  But their defense is very suspect, and Evgeni Nabokov is not a starting goalie for a playoff team anymore.  Although, I feel like if the Rangers were in the upper half of the conference like they were supposed to be, I’d probably find this little run from boys on the Island endearing.

Needless to say, this is the biggest game of the season so far on Saturday.  With the mid-conference logjam, we are looking at 6 points separating the 6th seed from the 11thplace team.  There’s your parity, Mr. Bettman.  Winning and losing this game could be the difference between sole possession of 6th place and looking up at the 8thspot from the outside.

Ok, enough long-windedness from me, question time…

  • Out of NYR, NYI, OTT, WPG and NJD, who’s in and who’s out?
  • Does Zucc get on the scoresheet in regulation before the end of the regular season?
  • Over/under 2 games for Marty Biron the rest of the way?
  • With 8 games to play, who is your Rangers MVP?
  • Defensive miscues by Girardi, blip on the radar or workload taking its toll?
  • Who would you most, and least, like to face in a first round playoff matchup?

Aside from the Isles on Saturday and the two NJ tilts in a couple weeks, the Rangers have Philly, Florida (twice), Buffalo and Carolina remaining on the schedule.  Those are points that are imperative against non-playoff teams.  Do or die time.

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  • -NYR, NYI & Winnipeg in, NJ, Ottawa out
    -Blip on the radar
    -Most(Washington) Least(Pittsburgh)

  • In-Rangers,Isles,Sen, out Jets, and Devils
    Zucc will score
    Marty-under two
    Ranger MVP-Nash, or MCD
    Blip, don’t see that happening again
    Best case match up would be Caps, worst Montreal becuase over all they are more sound in net, and defense!

  • -In Rangers, Isles, Senators — not quite counting out the Flyers
    -Zuke will score
    -Nash – good case for Stepan though
    -Neither. Girardi’s a very good D-man, but still overrated.
    -Most Boston – least Montreal of course

    So Justin, what do you think of Jason Missiaen? He was signed as a project and looked the part earlier this year, but now seems to be doing about as well as Talbot. Might he actually pan out?

    • I haven’t seen Missiaen play since Traverse City a couple years ago. At that point, he was a looong way off being an NHL goalie. He had fairly poor body control for a frame that size, and he didn’t block/react nearly fast enough for the show.

      His game may have improved recently, as many goalies are late bloomers, but I would think he’s still a non-prospect from the raw tools I observed back in 2011 or so.

  • ~In: Rangers/Ottawa; Out: Devils; Bubble: Isles/Jets

    ~Zuke definitely gets a goal.

    ~Under 2 games for Biron.

    ~Stepan or Nash have to get the MVP thus far.

    ~Blip on the radar for Girardi.

    ~Least like to face: Montreal. Most like to face: Boston. I know Boston would be a tough, tough matchup, but this original six series would have all the trappings of a classic playoff series, especially given how well these two teams play against eachother. It would be edge-of-your-seat, intense, nasty playoff hockey at its best.

  • 1) NJ & Winny out; Isles,NYR, & Sens in
    2) No but he will contribute in other ways
    3) Under
    4) Callahan
    5) Not having a good year. Whole team needs a full training camp with Capt Torts.
    6) Least – Habs; Most – Bruins

  • 1. NYR, OTT, NYI in. WPG, NJD out.
    2. Yes.
    3. 2 games exactly
    4. Stepan
    5. Blip.
    6. Most (Caps). Least (any team from Canada- Habs especially).

  • 1. NYR, NYI, OTT in, WPG, NJD out
    2. Yea, the hobbit has been everywhere…one is gonna come soon enough
    3. Under, either 1 or 0 games for biron
    4. Hank…easy
    5. neither..wasnt a good pass from asham and it took a bad bounce off his stick…unlucky play
    6. wanna play the caps or even the penguins if they are crosby/neal-less…dont wanna play the habs at all

  • I think with 8 games left, these 2 points are crucial. We cannot walk away empty. These next 3 games tell the tale.

  • 1. NYR, OTT, WPG in, NJD, NYI out
    2. I say the hobbit finds his precious tomorrow
    3. I say 2 is correct. Marty prob sees the crease against FLA at home in the first of back to back games. I think we clinch before the last game of the season against the Devils and they see Marty’s devilish blue eyes ruining their playoff chances.
    4. Henke will always be the MVP, but Step sure has made a great case for himself. Nash and Cally always belong in the conversation, but they’re the next level down.
    5. Unlucky miscues, not poor play. Hope that doesn’t happen to him again. He is a warrior and deserves his 30 TOI.
    6. Crosby/Neal-less Penguins (Best opportunity to take out the best team quick and build confidence for the second round). Montreal (I am hoping somebody else takes them out, because we sure hate playing in the Bell Centre)

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