Musings

Musing the Rangers: Playoff hockey is here!

Playoff hockey begins (for real) today. Forget about Wednesday, we’re all waiting for today and the Pens vs. Rangers series opener. Let’s have a muse to kick the playoffs off shall we?

Is it me or have an unusually high amount of teams got serious injury headaches this spring? The Rangers can consider themselves relatively lucky that they will enter the Pens series ‘only’ missing Kevin Klein. You look at an offensively shallow Montreal Canadiens squad missing their top scorer (Pacioretty) or the Penguins who are practically missing an entire D. The Rangers enter the playoffs healthy and that’s a huge bonus.

Player I’m rooting for: Martin St Louis. Has had a lot of criticism this year (some of it deservedly). He could be a huge difference maker for the Rangers.

My favourite ‘new’ Ranger is Jesper Fast. The rookie has played the game the right way all year. He makes smart plays, he worked his way into the line-up, eventually earning more ice time and is exactly the kind of depth player that you see make a difference in the tight playoff style games. Fast will be important against the Pens powerplay and we’re yet to see his best offensive side either. It may be worth noting that (albeit in a small sample size) Fast was almost a point per game playoff producer toward the end of his time in Sweden.

The playoffs are often where players have their coming out parties. I get the sense that if the Rangers are going to win the Cup; Chris Kreider may finally arrive as a bonafide upper echelon power forward.

People always talk about Glen Sather’s free agency mess ups. Well an initially minor, under the radar signing that’s turned out to be rather huge is Matt Hunwick. He’s certainly had his shaky moments this season but generally speaking, the Rangers have gotten great mileage out of Hunwick, to the point where most people are more than comfortable with him in the six spot to open the playoffs. He’s a great example of quality depth and has been a quality injury fill-in. Assuming his demands are within reason expect to see Hunwick next year too.

Kneejerk reaction of the week: The Bruins sacked a quality GM in Peter Chiarelli this week. Given the potential candidates for his replacement may include a few members of the Rangers organisation, this could seriously affect the Rangers this summer.

Alain Vigneault recently said this about Rick Nash in the playoffs last year: “Last year, I thought Rick was finding ways to contribute”. Well said AV. Yes, Nash is here for his scoring but Nash was good last spring even if he wasn’t 7.8m/year good. The Rangers will obviously be in a better position to succeed if he scores more this time around but people shouldn’t panic if Nash doesn’t fill the net right off the bat. This team can beat you with a variety of weapons.

So where do the Rangers enjoy the biggest advantage? Clearly it’s on defense. It’ll be interesting to see how the Penguins try and protect their shallow defense. The Rangers need to get on top of the Pens defense early and often.

So the Rangers are meeting college UFA and highly sought after goalie Matt O’Connor. I’d be stunned if the college kid signed with the Rangers given their depth in goal but two trails of thought; could it be any kind of indication that the Rangers are really ready to move Cam Talbot and secondly, it’s good to see the team is still active in trying to replenish the system despite a lack of draft picks. It’s that kind of proactive, creative organisational development that has turned the Rangers into a contender.

Question Time:

  • Who will lead the Rangers in scoring during the playoffs?
  • Has Cam Talbot played his last game as a Ranger?
  • Stepan or Brassard: which center is more important this spring and why?
  • How many goals will Rick Nash score in the playoffs?
  • The Rangers will win the Cup because __________?

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  • Scoring Leader….. Brassard

    Talbot most likely sarted his last game as a Ranger. I’d guess we see him come in relief this spring before we trade him away this summer.

    Stepan…. as we will need his line to put up some points. Given Brassard’s last 2 springs, I’m confident he will have his game together. That leaves Stepan as the important one to watch this spring.

    Nash will put in 6 this yr

    Timely goals, stellar depth and a Conn Smythe showing from Lundqvist

  • • Who will lead the Rangers in scoring during the playoffs?
    o Derrick Brassard.
    • Has Cam Talbot played his last game as a Ranger?
    o I hope so (only because if not, he’s relieving Lundqvist because of a bad game or due to injury)
    • Stepan or Brassard: which center is more important this spring and why?
    o Stepan. He centers an important line that needs to score. Stepan needs to coax production from a young line of Kreider and Miller, one where he has to be more of the playmaker, as opposed to Brassard. Brassard is surrounded by two great players, his numbers will be there.
    • How many goals will Rick Nash score in the playoffs?
    o 6
    • The Rangers will win the Cup because __________?
    o They are driven from last year’s oh-so-close finish to finally break through this year. Their VAST playoff experience, confidence, and understanding that this is year to make it happen leads to the Cup. In a playoff field with so many question marks at goalie, Henrik Lundqvist leads the charge and finally gets a ring. The depth of 4 lines and 3 defensive pairs makes for a difficult matchup for any team playing the Rangers, and home ice advance works in their favor as AV is able to match up how he wants in the most important games.

  • For all the hate on MSL this year, the guy still still has 52 points in 74 games. Not a completely awful season.

    • Before I answer the questions. MSL is DONE or at least not worth the $5 mill.

      1 – Tough one….dont be surprised by Hayes

      2 – I hope Cam stays around, but he opened way too many eyes this year. Money talks as we all know.

      3 – I hope he gets 7-9 on a long playoff run of course. Not being negative.

      4 – The Rangers will win the cup because Tampa did not make the semis. I love my Rangers but I honestly dont think we can beat Tampa. The islanders also scare me. When their speed is on point and passes clicking….they are scary.

      Still hoping for the best outcome here. I remember running around the streets in Manhattan in 94 just hugging random people. Will see how this goes now that I live in Hawaii = )

  • Top scorer will be Kreider, because he will be skating with Step, and Miller. The top shut down line will work on Nash, leaving the second tier defensive line against the Stepan line.

    Talbot will more than likely be traded if the O’Connor kid signs with us. That may be the carrot offered the kid to sign with us?????????????

    Stepan will prove to be more valuable this series, and the entire PO’s, because he kills penalties, will shadow Cindy, and center the kids Miller, and Kreider who will have break out play offs each!!!!!!!!

    Nash will score seven goals this season, unlike last year’s draught. He isn’t dealing with the concussion issues this year, and he is in much better physical shape. Besides, he has a statement to make………..

    We win this year due to desire, and the reality that loosing really sucks. Last year we came up short, but this year’s team is driven, and there is plenty to be said about desire !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Who will lead the Rangers in scoring during the playoffs?
    Brassard – 6g, 14a in 22 games

    Has Cam Talbot played his last game as a Ranger?
    No – I’m not sure they will be able to find a replacement for him, with similar
    production , at less than the $1.5 he will be making. He just showed how
    important a back up goalie can be to a team’s success

    Stepan or Brassard: which center is more important this spring and why?
    Stepan – he’s going to draw alot of the tough minutes in all situations

    How many goals will Rick Nash score in the playoffs?
    9 goals, 3 of them game winners.

    The Rangers will win the Cup because __________?
    They have the talent and drive to do so.

  • “Who will lead the Rangers in scoring during the playoffs?”

    Nash in goals and Stepan in assists and points.

    “Has Cam Talbot played his last game as a Ranger?”

    Last start? Yes, but he might get some time in the playoffs. It makes too much sense to trade him and pick up a 2nd or 3rd round pick for him and sign an aging journeyman to backup until Skapski is ready.

    “Stepan or Brassard: which center is more important this spring and why?”

    Stepan. I predict he’ll lead the Rangers in assists and points in the postseason and he’s better defensively.

    “How many goals will Rick Nash score in the playoffs?”

    8. He gets a goal tonight and will score three this series. He’ll add five more in the next three series.

    “The Rangers will win the Cup because __________?”

    Speed, depth, and Lundqvist.

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