The Musings: Just how good is the Rangers defense?

Dom Moore: Hugely deserving of a new deal this summer (Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI)
Dom Moore: Hugely deserving of a new deal this summer (Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI)

The Rangers are within two wins of the fan base going crazy with excitement. With the danger of looking too far ahead, let’s keep it sane and throw up a musings a day early shall we?

So much in sport depends on timing. Success is so often about peaking at the right time. In Henrik Lundqvist the Rangers have the best goalie in the world playing at the very top of his game. A (the?) leading Conn Smythe candidate, the Rangers have a huge advantage when he’s on his game. Right now it’s on fluke deflections that seem to be his undoing.

We’ve discussed it before, but the way he’s elevated his game (even further) in recent weeks it needs saying again; the Rangers have to keep Dominic Moore beyond this season, don’t they? Moore has beyond a strong penalty killer, a great defensive presence and has chipped in with leadership, some offense and filled in admirably for Derick Brassard. He’s a keeper.

Prediction: Ryan McDonagh will win a Norris trophy within the next four years. Not a wild prediction.

It’s worth considering; do the Rangers have the best defense in the league right now? (Form and depth considered). If they aren’t the best they have to be close. They may be absent the sexier names (Chara, Keith, Doughty) but I’m not sure the Kings or Bruins can match the Rangers for depth right now. The Kings have the system but the same talent? I’d say it’s a toss up between the Hawks and Rangers. What say you?

To re-emphasise the above point, who remembers Raphael Diaz? He’s the forgotten man right now but every time he’s stepped in for the Rangers he’s done well. He’s a solid option for the third pairing and the powerplay and there are several teams in the league where’d he’d probably be a second pairing guy.

Brian Boyle is another Ranger who has had a solid postseason and has done everything asked of him. With that considered you have to imagine the Rangers will consider bringing him back next year but at what point is cost prohibitive? If the rumoured cost was 2.5m I’d still bring him back if the term is short. If he wants more then he’d be the Rangers equivalent of former Oiler Fernando Pisani: postseason solider who gets overpaid elsewhere.

Biggest disappointment of the postseason for the Rangers so far? Let me qualify this with the fact that when your team is two wins from a Stanley Cup final you will struggle to find disappointments but for me, John Moore has been underwhelming for a while now. If Anton Stralman stays beyond this summer I can imagine Moore’s place with the Rangers being uncertain. At some point a young player needs to show progression.

Let’s finish on a positive: I have loved Carl Hagelin’s development. He’ll never blow you away with offensive numbers but he does chip in offensively and he’s worked very hard at both ends of the rink. His speed continues to scare people and back defense’s off and he’s really become a reliable player for the Rangers. Hagelin is a great example of the unheralded depth the Rangers boast.

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  • We’ve got a top pair D playing on the second pair (Staal). Our third pair would be second pair on many teams. Sure beats the days of Bickel/Eminger. Diaz as seventh means it’s unlikely we’d have to see anything like the human statue (Hamrlik) we had to endure last year.

  • For our d to be the best in the league we still need a cannon on the power play. That shot from subban scares the hell out of me

  • I think Best Defense in the league is a three-horse race between NYR, CHI, and STL. McD, G, Staal; Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson; Petro, Shattenkirk and Bouwmeester. Those top-3s are stacked, and no other teams can match that. From there, depth determines who has the best, and all three are deep, but I think Leddy and Oduya give CHI a slight edge. Maybe BOS is in that group as well, but outside of Chara and Seidenberg, they’re pretty average and are the beneficiaries of a stifling defensive system (and Tuukka Rask). Edler, Bieksa and Hamhuis are all top notch when they’re on their game, don’t count them out.

    I have to disagree with you on John Moore. I think he’s improved leaps and bounds since returning from his concussion. He’s jumping up on the play at the right times and isn’t getting burned. He’s got some pretty high upset. Got pretty good (and improving) offensive instincts, a hard, low shot, and an effortless skating stride. I don’t think people realize how good of a skater he is. And he’s got good size to boot. He’s got all the tools to be a very good offensive defensmen, just needs to put it all together, which I think he will.

    • Have to stir the pot somehow. The great thing about the Rangers right now is that steely focus. Words mean nothing.

      The Canadiens were able to get the Bruins off their game with their tactics, that won’t happen this series.

      • Lets stay focused! I think we would take the dip stick on our team and all he said is what Hank , AV and many other players say re:”puck luck”. I know the newspapers had to headline out of context what he said but I guess it was a slow news day.

  • I’m a little worried about how much of the team we’ll be able to maintain next year after the contract negotiations. A lot of these guys will likely be able to get raises elsewhere that we won’t be able to match due to sheer volume.
    My hope is that the chance for (another) Cup will be able to offset some of their price.

    There are definitely worse places to be than your team being too good for you to afford…

    • Yes I don’t see many FAs on this team not wanting another chance with the team after this year’s results.

      Even without a Cup, everything is trending in the right direction. I’d want to re-up on this opportunity even if not for premium salary. But that’s just me.

      • Chris

        Please rember that money talks, and bull sh*t walks! These guys have a certain window of time to earn as much as they can. Why else would Strahlman want to test the FA waters?????

        You, and I are fans, these guys are hired hands!!

        • I wouldn’t say this if the Rangers were knocked out in the first round, or even the second round. But after a likely Cup Finals appearance, or God willing a Cup, I think most of these guys would want to re-up.

          Not a lot of better options out there unless their Chicago or LA or Boston is offering the contract.

    • I don’t think there’s any likely to this likely – with each win, the price tag for individual players who are FA’s escalates.

  • Remember, in August, when the Stanley cup hangover has subsided, it will all get back to one thing -$Money$

  • I love that you can say this now and not fall into the category of going crazy:

    “let’s keep it sane…”:
    -Hank is the leading Conn Smythe candidate
    -Mac wins Norris within four years
    -Rangers have the best defense in the league right now


  • The Rangers do have a top three defense, and it could get better next year if Strahlman leaves, and J Moore improves. I believe Strahlman will test the FA waters, so we can get McIlrath up as our 3rd pair guy with Moore. Then we will have a banger, who, from what I read, has a very good shot, and other teams won’t take liberties with our guys.

    Agree McD could, and or should get the Norris within the next four years. He currently doesn’t get the press as some of the other big names, but this play-offs will open some eyes, and start giving Mac truck good press going forward.

    D Moore should be given a new deal, for 2 years, not only for the items mentioned in the article, but also for his leadership skills, and inspiration. I posted earlier that he did a great job in Brass’ absences, and could chip in offensivly on the 4th line.

    Now for Boyle, I’m a fan of the big guy. Re-sign him for a reasonable rate, maybe $2 mil, but not much more than that. Get him under contract for three years, no more than that. In so doing, we can develope Oscar Lindberg, who I believe will be a gem for us.

    I also could see that JT Miller could be the repalcement for BR, should the team not sign a big name FA center, Stasney. Use Brass as the 1st line, Step as the 2nd line, and Miller on the 3rd line, that would be worst case senerio!!

  • Stralman will be replaced by McIlrath next year. John Moore is going to get better and better. Diaz as the 7th defenseman is a great thing next year. The Brassard line has to be resigned as well as Boyle. Dominiuc Moore as well. I think they can all be re signed.
    My biggest concern is with Marc Staal and his plans. If he is not going to resign then he must be traded before the draft.

    • We are on the same page my man!! Marc has played well, and hasn’t discussed his plans at all. He comes from a family with class, and will in my opinion give the Rangers ample time to work out a trade should he want out, like Jordan did with the Pens!!

  • For a team that doesn’t like to be disrespected. Their doing a lit of it.

    The last person you want to nudge about their abilities is hank.

    If we win the series. Who wants to bet someone on the habs makes some nasty comments to hank or kreider.

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black

    • Good point – “the King is killing us; I know, let’s give him some billboard material!”

  • I would like to see Marc Staal resigned in the offseason. Staal, Girardi and McDonough are warhorses and have outplayed every other team defence so far this playoff. They would be no talk of Henk Lundqvist in the running for a Conn Smyth without these 3 dmen playing in front of him.

  • Kudos to all of the defensemen – Diaz included. But there have been rough spots and some not very good games against both against Pitt and Philly. But the Cup is a journey – it is not about any one game it is about the “body of work”

    What has impressed me personally is the “Team Defense” and how that has just jelled since being down 3-1 to Pitt. A lot of inspiration to/from Marty for sure and Hank is in some zone somewhere but the whole team is playing top notch defense now.

    Beyond blocking shots and a relentless forecheck they just now seem to be in the right place at the right time. Forwards and D-men. I guess the coach would call that positioning.

    They are keeping the crease fairly clean for Hank and when one does get through to Hank the rebound is cleared quickly and effectively. I believe AV’s short shifts and rolling 4 lines is paying big dividends and it is showing mightily in the overall team D approach

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