As Rangers fans bask in the glory of a scrappy but successful series victory over the Flyers there’s not much time to look ahead to the Pens series. With that said, we thought we’d share a few thoughts on the Rangers so far.
Benoit Pouliot coming on strong
Pouliot has taken costly penalties and is anything but a complete player, but as the year has gone on Pouliot has developed into a core Ranger. As part of the Rangers’ best line for most of the season Pouliot has to be retained. His goal against the Flyers was a great example of why the Rangers need him. Pouliot drove to the net and was rewarded after a great pass from Zuccarello. It’s a simple concept but not enough Rangers get to the dangerous areas, Pouliot did and was rewarded. He should (and surely will be) rewarded with a new deal.
Stralman was immense in Game 7 against the Flyers. Games like that are why the Rangers should find a way to keep him, but those types of all action performances aren’t quite frequent enough to warrant the money Stralman will likely demand. When he’s on his game he can make a good first pass, he’s a good skater, he is willing to throw his body in front of pucks and is a pretty smart hockey player to boot. It’s a shame he can’t put all those aspects together consistently.
J.T. Miller’s development trending the right way?
Miller’s game is very rough around the edges, but the experience he has gained so far in the playoffs will be been invaluable. He may not be in the lineup every game and his appearances appear to be match-up based, but Miller is clearly learning. His effort levels are more consistent, he’s kept a busy stick in the two games he’s been in and his positioning is slowly improving. It’s still early but it’s a good sign that Miller is finding ways to contribute.
The Rangers cannot get past the Pens without an improved powerplay. It’s a major concern right now. It’s regressed to the point where it’s now a liability. Minimal movement, only occasional chances generated and when the puck is cleared re-entry to the offensive zone has been far too much of a struggle. Without a reasonable powerplay you get the feeling Henrik Lundqvist will need to again be perfect for an entire series.
The King Reigns
Speaking of Henrik Lundqvist: If he ends his career without a Cup and media types label his career underwhelming because of playoff ‘failures’ it will be absolute nonsense – and lazy journalism. A guy who averages less than a 1.00 GAA in Game 7’s (3 conceded in his last 4 game 7’s) is clearly not the cause of failure. Henrik Lundqvist is a big game goalie. End of discussion.
Can the Rangers beat the Pens? Only if Rick Nash shows up to the party. No more passengers.