The Musings: Are the Rangers peaking at the right time?

The. Best. Goalie. In. The. World.  (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
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.

The Rangers are getting great production from their fourth line. Whether it’s Dom Moore, Brian Boyle, Carcillo or Dorsett; the Rangers are getting shift after reliable shift from their role players which is really allowing the pressure to stay off underperformers such as Martin St Louis.

Raphael Diaz: He’s been solid at both ends and a decent inclusion to date. It would be tough to take him out if John Moore is ready to go. I’d go as far as saying this; Diaz is proving what a solid depth guy he can be and what he was, in Montreal. If Anton Stralman really wants to reject 3m/year over 3 years I’d say goodbye and retain the cheaper Diaz. No great drop off in performance from Stralman and it would allow the money spent in greater areas of need.

• Why the Rangers can contend for the cup: Lundqvist, the defensive unit led by McDonagh, overall team depth.
• Why the Rangers cannot contend for the cup: A wildly inconsistent top six, inconsistencies at the center position and a powerplay that has regressed.

The Rangers are playing really disciplined hockey right now and, within themselves. The most exciting thing about the team right now is there’s plenty of room for improvement. The top six aren’t in very good form; even Mats Zuccarello’s line isn’t in the same veign of form that they were. In short, the club could generate much more offense and yet, are in a pretty good spot heading into the playoffs.

Question Time:

• The biggest concern with this roster right now: who would you pair Martin St Louis with?
• Do you get Cam Talbot another start or two in the end stretch?
• Would you keep Raphael Diaz based on what you have seen so far?
• Who would you have as your first powerplay unit?
• Should Derick Brassard be paired with right now?

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  • I’ll call them peaking when Nash and MSL start lighting the lamp on a regular basis (or the latter actually lights the lamp).

    But really they are playing great lately and survived that little hiccup I will chalk up to as a post Olympic hangover. Still, they aren’t going anywhere in the playoffs with an offense led by the likes of Brassard, Zuke, and The other guys that should be complementary scoring.

  • I think the Nash/Step/MSL line needs to be given a little time.
    Not unless the Rangers clinch and can’t move up or down.
    Yes, definitely. And agree that he’s a solid Stralman replacement.
    Toughhhh question, I’m passing.
    Wouldn’t split Brass and Zuc. I’d probably prefer to give them back Pouliot, too.

  • 1)For now, give him another go with Nash and Stepan. If that doesn’t click how about sliding Hagelin up on that line (worked well last yr) and try out MSL Richards Pouliot. I’d like to see MSL with Brassard, but the fact that Zucarello is already so compatible with him, I’d prefer not to disrupt that chemistry.

    2)Talbot should absolutely play games down the stretch. To me, any back to backs left would be a no brainer start.

    3)Keeping Diaz is an easy yes. Fully on board with your point about Stralman, and I’d probably even go further. With Girardi (5.5) and Klein (2.9) already in the fold, Stralman (3.0) should be replaced with the cheaper Diaz to be sure not to overpay our right side.

    4)1st unit-> Stepan MSL Nash Richards Diaz
    2nd unit-> Brassard Pouliot Zucarello Girardi McDonagh

    5)Brassard, Zucarello, Pouliot was fire pre olympics and ideally should be together to try and rekindle that. The Kreider injury forced Pouliot up the lineup last night, and Miller looked good there. Also recall on his last stint, he had that nice O zone take away from Toews which lead to the Brassard rocket of a goal. In summation, Miller has slotted in nicely for Pouliot when called upon.

    • Diaz showing that he can play the left side if needed helps his cause as well. It allows the team some flexibility in finding spots for Conner Allen (LH Shot) and McIlrath (RH Shot) next year.

      I gotta say I’ve been pleasantly surprised with Diaz so far and at this rate would be more than happy to have him come back next season. I just keep wondering why two teams that could really use him, MTL, VAN, gave up on him. Was Diaz simply overexposed on those teams and forced to play a role that didn’t suit him? Are there warts that haven’t surfaced yet?

      • Solid question… I guess only time will tell.

        In the words of Martin Lawrence, “Diaz is it?? Diaz?!?!??!”

  • Everything is right with the world after a convincing win over a playoff-bound opponent. A lot clicked last night. Let’s show the same intensity with similar results in the next 2 weeks and then let’s discuss if we are peaking at the right time. Diaz is cheap to keep. MSL needs some love, so keep him on the top line and Talbot needs 2 games more in the regular season, then he can watch 16 wins from the bench.

  • 1) St. Louis showed less signs of life last night with Stepan and Nash than he did in prior games; so I’d pair him with Richards and Pouliot for the time being and just let him find some rhythm.

    2) I’d definitely try to play Talbot another 2 games at least, most likely this Sunday versus Edmonton and April 10th against the Sabres. Considering the Sochi run, Lundqvist needs all the rest the team can afford him.

    3) Based on the small sample size, absolutely retain Diaz. He’s a huge upgrade over Falk and gives the Rangers more negotiating power over Stralman.

    4) 1st PP Unit: Stepan-Richards-Nash-MSL-McDonagh
    2md PP Unit: Pouliot-Brassard-Zuke-Girardi-Diaz

    5) At the moment, BRassard and Zuccarello continue to be a hot commodity, and I would add Miller to that line and bump Pouliot up for top-6 duty with Richards and MSL.

  • * What problem? You just deal with the consequences of this awful trade. Since it happened, the Rangers are a pitiful 8-4 while the Bolts are a positively sizzling 5-5.

    Seriously, I’d try MSL with Brassard and Pouliot. He plays like Zuke and it should be a good fit. Zuke has a better chance fitting in somewhere else because most of the Rangers have had the chance by now to get used to his play.

    BUT there is no problem if we don’t insist on having one. Goals count no matter who scores them.

    * Givng Talbot less than three starts would be foolish. Rest Lundqvist; the playoffs are long and gruelling.
    * Looks good so far
    * Power play worked better with Richards playing all two minutes. Don’t care who first unit is, the key is to swap and score against second PK defense.

    • Very interesting assessment. You make a salient point regarding Rangers vs Lightning post-trade success, regardless of MSL’s lack of production.

      I can also see the merit in putting MSL w/Pouliot and Brassard and moving Zuke.

      I had posited moving Pouliot up w/Richards and MSL, and keeping Brassard and Zuke together but with Miller. But I see your point about MSL slotting in place of Zuke (a likely good fit w/Brassard) and Zuke being more versatile due to familiarity.

      Fair point as well regarding our perennial need to deconstruct, lament, and excoriate all things Rangers.

    • Fair point regarding the post-trade record, but MSL has been more of a passenger on this ride.

      He’ll need to produce, and for the record, I think he’ll get it going.

      • Wasn’t it MSL who made that tremendous stretch pass that freed Zuccarello for that near breakaway on which his stick broke?

  • How can McDonagh get his glove knocked off with a slash in front of the crease and no penalty is called? If that was Crosby it would have been a Match Penalty. Just Sayin….Could have had his hand broken and I haven’t read a thing about it

  • 3 of those 5 Lightning losses are shootout loses. But I wouldn’t exactly call that the barometer for success either way.

  • I would put st Louis with Boyle. Mess with st Louis and Boyle will deck you. Plus it gets him out if the limelight for now. I know he’s 38 etc but we need to get him going. And the 4th line is where it starts.

    Keep the same goalie rotation. Why mess up a good thing.

    Diaz is a keeper and a solid acquisition. You know who he reminds me of. Zubov. Fast hard shot mot afraid to mix it up. Very nice move Mr. Sather.

    because mreider is injured. Zucc, brass, Nash. Diaz and mcd. only one reason. I need people on the pp that aren’t scared and want to prove something. These guys are the only ones that stick out as wanting to do that

    brass should play with his bread and butter. Pouliot(another great signing) and the hobbit.

    I would like to say for all his bad moves. I forgive you glen, let me count the ways. Hank, staal, mcd, Stepan, zucc, Diaz, Dorsett, kreider, etc

    the Gomez for mcd trade absolves you from many bad moves.

    • So you either deploy MSL in the same defensive situations that Boyle plays right now or you deploy Boyle in the offensive situations that St Louis play. So where exactly does that help MSL get going?

      • How is having him in the top 9 helping if he isn’t scoring. Play like a 4th liner you play on the 4th line.

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