The one thing we’ve come to expect of our hockey clubs in New York is consistency. With the New York Rangers, that consistency, at least in the opening few months of the season, is defined as consistently inconsistent. It’s a bit of a running joke, but it’s alarmingly true. Last night’s game was a prime example of how this club can play when they don’t play down to their competition. They did just that when they lose to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, and Colorado Avalanche, all pretty bad teams.
Sure, you can blame the injuries to the blue line, and no team has really suffered injuries to the extent the Rangers have, but all teams do deal with injuries. You can point to the Derek Stepan injury, which led to an even more massive hole at center than initially predicted —by us— at the beginning of the season. But the Rangers have an opportunity now to put that inconsistency behind them with a relatively easy schedule to close out the month. Of course, being consistently inconsistent, you never know.
On to the musings:
- I harp on that center depth a lot, but the issue has really worked itself out for the most part. Stepan is clearly the team’s 1C, and while he’s not Joe Thornton, he’s David Krejci. I’ll take it. He’s been a huge stabilizer for a team that needed help. Derick Brassard has met expectations and performed very well as the 2C, which was a huge question mark heading into the season. So far, he’s justified his $5 million contract. Dominic Moore is one of the best 4C’s in the game. 3C is still a concern, but only because Kevin Hayes is still learning the pro game. He has a solid future there.
- Cam Talbot was phenomenal last night, and the Rangers will need him to be a .915 SV% goalie this year. He’s not a .940 SV% goalie like he was last season, but he’s not the .880 SV% goalie he was to start this season. He will be fine.
- Speaking of Talbot, enough with the “what can we get for Talbot?” stuff. He’s a 27-year-old backup goalie with 26 games of experience who was pretty bad in his first four games this year. His trade value is minimal, and he’s not replacing Henrik Lundqvist. Seriously, enough with that stuff, you just make yourself look silly.
- Another guy who has minimal trade value – John Moore. He just turned 24, so he’s not a kid anymore. He’s a middle-of-the-road bottom-pairing guy with potential to contribute on the powerplay. He also has the potential to be a top-four guy, but that window of opportunity is closing as he approaches his prime. Most of what you see now is what you will get from him.
- You do have to wonder what will happen with Moore next season. Brady Skjei, if he turns pro, is going to get a very, very long look at camp. He could replace Moore in the lineup. But a lot of it has to do with the future of Marc Staal.
- Personally, I think the Rangers will be making a mistake if they give Staal a contract like Dan Girardi’s. It will be tough to manage the depth of the roster with another $5.5 million taken up by a net-negative possession defender. I don’t know what the trade value for Staal would be, or if there is even a market for him at the moment, but I would assume the asking price would be the same as Girardi’s last year.
- Duclair-Hayes-Stempniak; Hagelin-Moore-Fast, just for one game. Please? Pretty please? Just once.
- Matt Hunwick sure has been a pleasant surprise. He’s not a savior, but he’s been very serviceable as a fill-in. Reminds me of the way Steve Eminger filled in whenever the club needed him.
- Obligatory Tanner Glass comment.
- What is your ideal fourth line?
- Do you think Hayes sticks as a 3C?
- Staal: Re-sign or trade?