Musings

Thanksgiving Musings: be thankful for Henrik Lundqvist

Are you thankful for the King?
Are you thankful for the King?

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?

Question time:

  • 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.

 

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17 Comments

  1. Totally agree abt Derek Stepan. I know there were difficulties but he has really underperformed. Kreider was a beast but he doesn’t seem to be as physical. I’d like to see McIlrath play with Staal instead of Yandle. Put Klein with Yandle who can be an adventure in his own end.

  2. I totally agree with Paul & Amy. I also believe that this current roster as it it now is good, but not good enough to win it all! Like the 94 cup team, some tinkering will have to be done to get a bigger and meaner..

    1. Kreider and Miller are both big guys who are playing small, particulary in front of the net. They could make a big difference, but I don’t think bigger and meaner, rather smarter and less tentative play, is what is needed throughout the lineup.

  3. To All My Fellow Bloggers and Ranger Brethren, Happy Thanksgiving , Be Blessed with your Family and Friends. I encougage all to take a look at YouTube, google Meet&Greet the 1994 RANGERS. Celebration of the 94 cup winning team. It LAST ABOUT 1:15 Minutes. Awesome stuff. Do you realize if that team does not win it all, we would be going on 75 years with out a cup.. YIKES!!

  4. Agree, Chris. I couldn’t understand the “geez, shut up and look at our amazing record” posts. The “AV has to go!” posts are worse. That said, the team has been underperforming for a while now. They don’t value possession in the offensive zone. We win puck battles but then squander the puck by shooting too fast rather than wearing down the defense. In our own zone, we get worn down by good possession teams. For a while now our D has made AWFUL giveaways trying long passes when under no pressure in the breakout. They have also been running around trying to cover too many attackers or the wrong parts of the ice.

    Although I too would like to see more of McIlrath and Etem, swapping those guys in is not going to solve our problems. We have too many guys underperforming to bring in rookies and expect help. I still think the problems are on lines 2 and 3, not 4, but that is a small disagreement in the scheme of things.

    I’d suggest we play Raanta for a few games to force the team to commit to playing responsible hockey. The guys seem to be expecting Hank to stand on his head every night.

  5. We need an energy line that plays out of system of speed, one that hits, pressures and grinds. Our 4th line has been OK in my opinion. They were the best line last night.

  6. Kind of agree on Yandle. He’s not worth the cap hit that he’ll command when he hits FA but how would you expect the Rangers to keep him without meeting his price?

    I say get out of him what they can for the rest of the season (which means giving him more PP time) and then wave good-bye.

  7. Hank-35 wins… I don’t think they’ll let him play enough to get 40

    20 goals-six (Nash, Zuc, Brassard, Kreider, Stepan, Hayes…..Lindberg regresses and Kreider gets hot enough to barely get there)

    Trade?–Of course. It’s the Rangers. I don’t see a way to add a defenseman. Expect a trade for an experienced winger to fortify the 2nd or 3rd line. We give up either a mid range pick for a third line guy, or in a blockbuster, we trade one of the pending RFAs to get a higher impact player.

    Best 5? So tough. League is so balanced. The question is “right now”. That would be Montreal, Dallas, Rangers, Caps. Not sure about number 5. Maybe the Kings or Blues.

    Concerns? Well after a brutal loss, it’s easy to overreact. Clearly, the defense needs to be much better. There track record says they are too good not to get better, so I’m not concerned. I just don’t believe that five of the six guys on defense who are in their NHL prime (26-31) are not going to round into form at some point. Obviously, if they don’t get it together, then the season is already over, because there is no way to fix an entire defense.

    My biggest concern is with the guys who are pending RFAs–Kreider, Miller and Hayes. These are all young players, yet much is expected. Certainly, in the case of Kreider, who’s played parts of five NHL seasons, far, far more is expected of him now. We keep saying this guy can be the next Cam Neely, but other than brief moments when he wows us, it’s hasn’t happened yet. The problem is, there’s no track record with any of these guys. We are HOPING they will all take at next step. So far, you can make the case that all three have regressed to an extent. If that doesn’t change, then the Rangers are in huge trouble. The progression of the young players is the X-factor. If they come around, we have a great chance to win it all. If not, we are a one and done playoff team.

    Kreider was specifically challenged by AV to become that player. So far, he has failed to answer the bell. Is it because he’s still learning, or because we’ve all overrated him? If Kreider doesn’t turn his game around, then he might well be trade bait at the deadline.

    Ride Hank?–I don’t understand the question. What choice do the Rangers have? Of course they will ride him. That being said, Raanta will play when Hank needs a break. No different than what we’ve seen so far.

    Other points–regarding what Carp wrote. I get where he is coming from. As a journalist, you’d like to have access to the whole team. But isn’t this the Rangers way? For the most part, the leaders speak for the team. I don’t know if that’s because the other guys don’t want to talk or Rangers management wants it that way. I don’t think it means there are some guys who don’t want to be accountable, however. That’s my hunch anyway.

    Stepan can be criticized. But again, I think Kreider absolutely should be as well.

    Yandle? I suspect the Rangers won’t keep him, but it really depends on how he plays, who’s traded at the deadline, who we acquire, who is projected to be out there on the FA market next summer, how well Skjei develops in the minors. At this point, it’s still an unkown.

    McIlrath-I’m game to see him play. I suspect we will for one or both games this weekend. What I disagree with is your rationale. We have no idea what McIlrath (or Etem for that matter) are doing in practice. AV doesn’t need to play either kid to somehow “show us” what he can do. AV should play one or both when and if they are ready to contribute to a win. I would think, coming off of a stretch of games where the Rangers haven’t been their best, that McIlrath should go in for Boyle tomorrow vs Boston and even Saturday vs Philly–let’s see if he can play back to back. As for Etem, he could go in for Stalberg, but I thought Stalberg had his moments last game. I’m not sure who else you’d sit right now.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    1. peronsally I think they will target a 2nd line RW. AV clearly (and rightfully) has not been happy with Hayes or Miller there and Fast just isn’t a top 6 player. I don’t see them moving a defenseman so I think the defense they had on opening night is most likely the one to end the season. So the question is what will a legit 2nd line RW cost?

      1. Agree. And that’s the million dollar (or should I say multi-million dollar) question.

        I’d look for a deal similar to the one with Arizona last year, but hopefully not as many parts to it. Trade with a non-contender that wants a young player. We get the stud RW, they pick up whatever portion of his contract we need to fit under the cap, we give them some of our future.

  8. They need to sure up the defense and get a real wing to play with Stepan and Kreider. I think JT and Hayes both go. Somehow we need to move Stall or Girardi.

  9. Looks like vs Boston, it’s going to be McIlrath and Etem in, Stalberg and Boyle out. Hank plays vs Bruins, Raanta vs Flyers.

  10. Looking forward to the early game, the Montreal effort should have our boys ready to rock, i hope so. Go Undertaker, Etem gets his 1st NYR goal today!!

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