The Rangers got whooped against the Canadiens Wednesday night. Happy thanksgiving everyone! All jokes aside, the Rangers were brutal, but the record is still full of good things so on that note, let’s have a short thanksgiving musings shall we? Have a great day today everyone. Happy holidays.
I’ve gotten a lot of heat recently for writing negative posts on the Rangers despite the sexy record and division lead. The thing is, the Rangers are not playing well in their own zone at all and are over complicating things in the offensive zone as well. We all love the record but if the Rangers ambitions are another trip to the Finals, the play has to begin to catch up to the record.
It’s fact that the list of Rangers players meeting expectations is a lot shorter than the list of players who could be playing much better.
One more negative before we turn the tide on this post: I found one thing very interesting when Rick Carpiniello mentioned the post game interviewees in his always excellent post game review post this morning. “The usual suspects showed up in the lockerroom: Lundqvist, Girardi, Staal, McDonagh, Stepan, Nash, Zuccarello. Not sure if any others did. The usual suspects didn’t.” When you consider the type of veterans that Carp may be throwing into ‘the usual suspects that didn’t’ pile are there inferences to be drawn from that? Shouldn’t guys such as Keith Yandle, Dan Boyle and Derick Brassard be fronting up after a rotten performance? Your thoughts on this would be interesting guys.
Show me a team that will take Dan Boyle off the Rangers hands and I’ll show you a drunk GM.
So, now some positive spin. Rick Nash continues to find ways to score. While the team aren’t playing well it seems Nash is now being rewarded for all his hard work and team first ethic he has displayed all season. I like that Nash has always kept going even during the tough stretches without the goals. At least publicly he has made all the right noises and has handled the goalless stretch very well. That bodes well for the playoffs.
It still stuns me every time I read it: Henrik Lundqvist has never had a 40 win regular season. How?
Amid all the ups and downs (and inconsistencies) that the Rangers are going through it is easy to forget just how young a big part of the team’s core is. Kevin Hayes is a young, second year player still learning the NHL game. JT Miller is just 22 and probably in his first year where his NHL roster spot is safe. Chris Kreider is still only 24, Oscar Lindberg is 24 and a rookie while Jesper Fast is 23 and still establishing himself. Inconsistencies are to be expected from a bunch of young guys all of whom are still defining their roles on a big market, contending team.
Prediction: despite his slow start, Rick Nash will still break 35 goals.
The only ‘young’ guy that can really be criticised for his up and down play is Derek Stepan. Stepan is on a big ticket, and is one of the most important Rangers in terms of ability and time served. At 25 Stepan has a ton of experience and it is reasonable to expect more from him this season. He has 70 point upside and is the Rangers best two-way center. He needs to contribute more.
The Rangers are contending for the President’s Trophy again and like the past two years they have very few guys in the mix for individual Hardware at the quarter point. Henrik Lundqvist is the runaway Vezina winner at the quarter mark and he’s surely in the Hart trophy mix as well. Where would the Rangers be without #30? He’s been the very definition of MVP this season. Be thankful today that your team has Henrik Lundqvist.
The more this season progresses, the less I feel the Rangers should pull out all the stops to extend Keith Yandle. Should they keep him? Absolutely; his skill set is still unique (in the organisation) and he’s good at what he does but he’s not a $6-8m bracket player which he might command on the open market.
So many people wanted to chase Kevin Klein out of New York this summer. Yet here we are approaching December and given other blueliner’s performances so far, the Rangers defense would look a lot shallower without Klein. If the Rangers need to move some salary out over the summer then Klein may be an option but he’s helping the Rangers win games right now and that’s surely the priority.
I’ve said it a few times and I’ll say it again. It’s time to give Dylan McIlrath an extended look. The Rangers can’t handle teams that crash the net with regularity. They struggle to clear the way for Henrik Lundqvist. McIlrath may not be the answer – he probably isn’t given his lack of mobility – but isn’t it about time we found it for sure?
- How many wins will Henrik Lundqvist end the season with?
- How many Rangers players will break twenty goals?
- Will the Rangers make an in-season trade and if so, what position will they trade for?
- Records aside, who would you take as the top five teams in the NHL right now?
- What concerns you most about the Rangers right now?
- Should the Rangers ride Lundqvist until the D ‘sorts itself out’?
Happy thanksgiving people! Enjoy the football and unhealthy amounts of turkey.