Do you trust this Rangers team in the playoffs?

henrik lundqvist
Any team with Hank can win.

As we get closer to the playoffs, the biggest question on everyone’s mind has shifted from “Will they make the playoffs?” to “Can this team make a run?” The answer changes based on the last game the Rangers played, and if you were to ask any fan yesterday, the answers would undoubtedly be negative.

But let’s get one thing out of the way: The Rangers are simply jockeying for position right now. They will make the playoffs. The argument can be made that they are actually better off sliding to the first wild card spot –they won’t, they will stay in the top three in the division– and move to the Atlantic, where they won’t have to face Washington until the Conference Finals. But either way, they are in the playoffs.

For all the skill on the team, there are some serious flaws that are getting exploited by better teams. The Penguins, sans Malkin, tore the Rangers a new one and made them look bad. The Isles torched the Rangers for three goals in the first five minutes. This isn’t the same team as the past four years.

Outside of the obvious issues on the blue line, of which this will be the only mention since I’ve beaten this horse to death Godfather style, there are other major concerns on this team. Even outside of roster construction, it just seems the work ethic isn’t there this year. Those previous Rangers teams didn’t relinquish leads and always fought hard when behind. This team is the polar opposite, as they give up leads with regularity and once they are down, they are out.

The argument can be made that the Rangers are just waiting for the playoffs to turn it up. I don’t buy it, though.

Then there’s the coaching. Outside of roster construction, which again we will get to, Alain Vigneault has had his methods questioned throughout the year. He hasn’t changed his team’s style of play to match the aging players he considers to be his top guys. His in-game forward rotation has been questionable at best. And his zone deployment has been called into question. Not a good trifecta.

Then there’s roster construction. Tanner Glass will likely play over much better and younger players. The top-nine has consistently featured Jesper Fast, who by all accounts is a great depth guy, but probably is best suited for a fourth line role. Fast is much like Brian Boyle. He can fill in temporarily in a top-nine role, but the team is at its best when he’s on the fourth line.

But it’s not all negative. The forwards, even with the Glass factor, are probably the deepest in the East outside of Washington. They are fast, skilled, and when they care, tenacious on the forecheck. All that leads to good things. Henrik Lundqvist isn’t human, and if he gets hot, the Rangers are almost unbeatable. October and November showed us just that.

In the playoffs, luck matters more than process. The Rangers have seen their luck spike and then crash all season long. If they hit a spike, they are a tough out. If they hit a crash, they are done. But all this considered, do you trust this team to turn it around in the playoffs?

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  • No. The amount of blown games/leads late is very alarming. That doesn’t include the secoND period woes and 5 goals against in 2 minutes. Something is just missing this year.

    • “Something is just missing this year.”

      I go back to the ‘Strahlman out, Boyle in’ thing. Sather made a lot of good moves and a couple moves he cannot be faulted on in going all in (MSL, Yandle). I admit I didn’t know how much of a back breaker it would be at the time, but losing Stralsie and worse, replacing him with Boyle (the reason we ended up trading the Duke+ for Yandle) was a disaster and with the tiny margin for error involved in contending for a cup, that was the move that derailed this excellent, excellent team.

      Girardi and Staal contracts for aging war horses? Most teams have that. It could have been digested. But losing that highly capable right D has taken the whole D down, which in turn has put a ball and chain on the ‘team game’. Strahlman would be w/ MacD now and 2nd pair would be Yandle/Klein. That would be some min. eating top 4. Instead, we have Boyle in the mix and the D is crippled.

      So long story short, it’s not that I don’t trust them. I think they will pull the recent loose ends together and I think Lundquist is highly capable of getting in one of those zones. I think Kreider and Miller can up their concentration and Hayes his compete. But I just don’t know if they are good enough. It will depend on whether Hank does his thing and the forward depth jells into something with Nash and Staal playing together, which could become a massive positive.

      But it’s definitely going to come from the forwards and the goalie if it comes. The D is exposed.

      • Sather chose re-sign Girardi over Stralman. We would be in a much better place right now if we had these pairs, even with Boyle.


        • Correct. It was a Girardi vs. Stralman decision. Basically, which RHD was going to be around long term. Boyle was always a stop gap.

  • It’s not about trust. Trust implies that the skill is there but the will is not. It’s about not having the horses — particularly fresh horses. The core is tired, mentally and physically, and they’ve regressed dramatically on the back end. It’s not about “not caring enough.” That’s BS. The coach doesn’t seem to know how to deal with it. Maybe the adrenaline willl kick in and they’ll get another long run together. But it doesn’t look good, IMO.

    • To your crystalline wisdom, rangermom, I offer this reflection from Steve McCroskey, Lloyd Bridges’ character in “Airplane I”:

      “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines.”

  • I’m guessing that barring an appearance in the SCF, AV will be moving on after this season. Players may not be actively tuning him out right now, but you can only play the same song so many times.

    Roster construction is what it is; Gorton had to play the hand dealt to him by Slats. That being said, he’s not pushing salary cap rules that hard either.

  • As a fan, I want to believe it can happen. When they play inspired hockey, I want to jump right on the train and start shoveling coal into the engine room with everyone else. Full steam ahead! Bring on the Caps!

    But then we hit the skids. Reality sets in. The popular cliché these days- get in and anything can happen- while true, is also dangerous. This season is marred with inconsistency and while anything can happen, it is tough to believe it will happen.

    In the end, despite the Rangers’ lackluster, inconsistent and seemingly pedestrian mannerisms this year, the East is filled with a lot of mediocrity (outside of Washington). Much like the Republican primaries, the chaos of the field of candidates, to an extent, masks the flaws of any individual candidate.

    Eventually, someone will emerge from the carnage victorious. At this point, who the hell knows who…

  • they do not have the grit they had in the last 2 seasons they don’t have hagelin, St Louis, Talbot, Richards etc. yes they came back from 3-1 down last season against Washington but this is a different caps team from previous years.

  • The Negatives:

    They’ve been inconsistent all season. The special teams hasn’t been great. Their road record hasn’t been great. They’ve blown a lot of leads, and had a lot of defensive mistakes. Nash isn’t scoring. Hayes is in a sophemore slump. Even Dom Moore isn’t the same player. Girardi…. and the coach juggles the lines and pairs a lot more than we’re use to seeing

    The Positives:

    On paper, they have it all. McDonagh is returning to form, playing like he did when he earned the C. Kreider is starting to look a lot better. M. Staal is better than he has been all year. JT Miller has stepped up his game. Brassard is having a career year. Fast has been consistently effective.

    I think if/when AV solidifies the lineup to maximize their playing potential, this team is as good as any. Deep….. here’s what I think the lineup should look like Game 1 QF

    Miller Brassard Zuccarello
    Kreider Stepan Fast
    Hayes Staal Nash
    Lindberg Moore Stalberg

    McDonagh Klein
    Yandle Girardi
    Staal McIlrath



    Should always be together.

    • Nice lines and combos. That would almost certainly be my xbox NHL16 lines for sure. Well done.

      Only caveat…. there is no denying Staal/Boyle will be the 3rd pairing, despite how much more we’d like to see what you inked.

    • just curious, what has lindberg done over the last 3 months to warrant staying in the lineup?? hell, the only time you notice him is when he’s taking another stupid penalty! i’ll take glass in the lineup over him any
      day! yes lindberg has more talent but glass is noticeable out there almost every shift! the man is the only thing that even closely resembles a physical presence out on the ice! he also has scored as many goals in the last 2 weeks as lindberg has scored in the last 3 months! i honestly believe that the only reason lindberg is still here is because we can’t send him down without putting him through waivers!

      • Glass is noticeable every shift? LMAO…he’s one of the worst players in the league, even with his sudden “improvement”

        A coach’s job is to play the best and deepest lineup. Lindberg when paired with Stalberg and Staal was part of the best line the Rangers have had in a few weeks. They drove possession, and Oscar provides enough offensive talent to make things happen. The fact that you would play Glass over Lindberg is comical.

        Glass provides NOTHING…yes he leads in hits, but when you lead in hits, it means you don’t have the puck…I rather a player have positive possession numbers than have more hits…Glass is not the answer and should not play over ANYONE on the team…

  • As a dyed in the wool fan, I wish they can go places. As a realist, I hate saying it, but this team gets booted out the first round, for all the reasons mentioned…….

    This may be out of sync thinking, but why break up lines that worked for some time, Brass-Zucc-Nash? Why force feed us Staal-Nash? Why not use Staal with Hayes, Stalberg, giving us three good scoring lines? Why force feed us again with Fast on the top line, the kid is nice, but not top nine material?

    AV’s a good coach, thick skulled, inflexible, won’t adjust, too predictable. Again force feeding us a steady diet of horse crap, Boyle at all costs, may cost him his job. Eddie may disagree with me , but what’s new, feel’s his experience is worth having him in the line up, I don’t. How many times have we seen, in the two years that Boyle is here, that he lost not a step, but multiple steps in speed, being undersized gets shoved around like a rag doll, but insists on playing Boyle anyway????????

    Bottom line, I don’t have a cozy feeling about this team, and big changes will come this summer. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they dump AV as well, sorry folks, he’s grossly over rated!!!!!!!!!

    • Not sure it’s force feeding.

      Nash and Staal played together as kids, and in international comps. Both are on record saying how well they enjoy playing together and how well their styles mesh. So it seems like a natural fit to try uniting them for at least a bit.

      As for breaking up tried and true combos, you do have a point there. But, AV’s system is very predictable, and other team’s are doing a good job countering our attack. Having a fresh perspective might not be a bad thing

  • As mentioned above, team lacks grit and heart. We are made up of guys who we feel have greater potential than they are showing. Problem is is that we are who we are and not who we think they can be.

    There is a reason Hayes didn’t sign, and we see it now. We overpaid guys who we think are great players; Stall, Girardi and Stepan. They are just very good. We criticize Kreider for not being “more”. The issue is that he is what he is, nothing more.

    Hank is great, but he cannot do it alone, and many times, he is asked to stop too many breakaways and odd man rushes. As I mentioned yesterday, we may be looking at a summer overhaul.

  • Anything is possible in playoffs as upsets are common. A hot Henk and a healthy blue line and the Ranger squad has a chance to win every game. Their young forwards are inconsistent but that is to be expected. Nash will be better, but I prefer to see him playing with Stepan or Brassard as they are much better play makers that Eric Staal.

  • 100% TRUST this team will not raise the cup this year.
    That’s a fact jack!

    Someone once said “Defense wins Championships” well all year ours has been more then a concern.

    I recently asked my 2nd generation ranger crazy fan wife if I can please bring an Edmonton hat into our home.

  • Do I trust this team in the playoffs? Yes.

    Do I think AV can guide us to a Stanley cup? Not anymore.

    New coach. Fresh style are needed. We need non retread coaches. Just like players you need the up and comers not the down and outers

  • I wouldn’t bet the farm on them, but I could see them making a run. I can see an exhausting and physical series against the Fishsticks that they certainly may lose, but I can also see a second round series, a long series, against the Caps, but not much after that.

  • The E. Staal trade was throwing good money after bad.

    Saarela is a legit prospect and was the Rangers #2 forward prospect after Buch (and ahead of Gropp).

    Going for it is fine but you have to be at least a little realistic. Better to have done nothing or acquired lesser guys (like Versteeg and Winnik) without losing Saarela and the 2 2nd rounders and have some chance of still going for it next year.

    Now it’s all or nothing this year and let’s face it – it’s going to be nothing.

    • Saarela was not a top prospect. He’s a decent, undersized, 18 year old playing in a second tier European (Finland) league. Saarela was nowhere near the polished prospect that a guy like Duclair was. Saarela was highly ranked because the Rangers graduated virtually their entire prospect pipeline to the NHL. The only top prospects left are Buch and Skjei.

      There are going to be a few lean years coming, but that’s simply the cyclical nature of competing in a league that uses a hard cap. Just wait, within the next five years you are going to see the Blackhawks, Kings, and Rangers back at the bottom of the league. Eventually Kane, Toews, Kopitar, Lundqvist will become old players on bad contracts, they will pull their teams down with the weight of their contracts. When you have a great team, you have to go for it, going for it means trading for MSL, Yandle, and E. Staal.

    • Versteeg looks like a big miss.
      Fact is, NYR needed a scoring winger more than a centre. And, forgive if I’m wrong, isn’t his cap hit something we could look to keep next season?
      We’re about to find out first hand just how much forward depth the Kings have, and I wouldn’t bet against them reaching another Cup final.

  • Do I trust them? Sure. That doesn’t mean they are going to win the Cup but I think this team has been only focused on the playoffs all year. I firmly believe we are going to see the best this team has to offer come the postseason. It’s not unheard of, everyone’s darlings, the LA Kings, did exactly this the two years they managed to win the Cup.

    Just a reminder, we are talking about a Rangers team that still has one of the better records in the league this season. A team that has played the most playoff games over the last four seasons. A team that has been to three conference finals and one Cup final in the past four years. No heart? This team has fought back from multiple 3-1 playoff series deficits in recent years. If the media want to count out the Rangers in favor of a flashy Caps team? Fine, let ’em. The next big playoff series win the Caps manage will be that franchise’s first.

    Frankly, I find it embarrassing that there are people that consider themselves Rangers Fans that aren’t willing to give this team the benefit of the doubt. Reading the comments in this blog over the past few months I have seen calls to fire the coach and to strip the team down to the bare bones. Do you people not remember what this team was only 16 years ago? They were in the gutter, a laughing stock, the Rangers were worse off than the recent iterations of the Maple Leafs. Nary a prospect in the system (Christian Dube, Pavel Brendl, Dan Goneau, and Jamie Lundmark passed for prospects around here), a revolving door of terrible goalkeepers (Kirk McLain, Mike Dunham, Guy Hebert), a who’s who of washed up has beens and never will bes on the blue line (Rich Pilon, Dave Karpa, Stephane Quintal, Sylvan Lefevbre, Darren Van Impe). And now that we are in the midst of one of the greatest stretches in Rangers history you all are pissing on it like spoiled children? Again, it’s embarrassing.

    The tl;dr version of my rant: Sit down, try and enjoy what this team is trying to do, and if a few things break right we’ll all be partying, together, in the Canyon of Heroes this June.

    • No Chris, again you are wrong. You’re not allowed to have a positive attitude around here. The real fans, those who know everything about hockey, know the real story. The defenders all stink, Hank is lazy, the coach is awful. The team doesn’t care. Everyone should be traded and the coach, GM, and all the popcorn vendors should be fired.

      There you go; now you’re thinking correctly. Now watch all the “Thumbs Downs” pile up under my post.

      Have an awesome day, everyone. Regards- orange

      • I gave you a thumbs down because you asked for it. LOL!!!! There is being Hailey Mills and being a realist which apparently you are not. And if people want to bitch & complain, so be it, not everybody wants to shove their head up their *** because that stinks. Have a nice day Mike.

        • You missed my point, Paul. There is bitching and complaining going on when this is a great team.

          Never forget your roots is something we hear a lot. To be honest the Rangers roots are mostly terrible except for a few good years every 20 or so years. That’s all I was getting at, things are pretty great right now and no one seems to want to appreciate that.

          • Exactly, it is a great team as demonstrated last year, so when they play as badly as they have it’s going to lead to more complaing, because you know it can be way better.

      • Another hit and run. Its nice to be so smugly optimistic about their chance; but it would be nice to have that optimism based on some reality. The fact is, this team looks no better than they did in game 7 vs. Tampa. The work ethic that used to describe this team, is sporadic at best. They have no real depth to speak of; a fact why the coach is forced to shorten his bench—-something that he rarely did his first years here. The defense has been exposed because, lets face it, Hank is starting to show some cracks. Hes still the best player on this team—but he can’t be the best player every night. Not anymore. Can they make a run–sure they can. Will they? IMO, No. Its one and done, for a team that was so close to the promised land, but through bad cap mgmt. and the distribution of big money contracts to the wrong players, find themselves prematurely on the downturn.

  • This team put a lot of stock in Chris Krieder becoming a physical and offensive force, Hayes being a legit 3rd line center and lindberg/fast being sound players in the top 9…none of that gas worked out.

  • I have said this before that the Rangers were winning despite the coaches mistakes. This year the coaches mistakes are more noticeable and I believe some people are finally noticing. That being said, we do have one of the better teams in the league. All that is lacking is the will to win for the whole team. I’m sure when the playoffs come the will to win will come back. The only thing I am afraid of is the coach continues to make mistakes that could cost us BIG.
    Yes I know the coach does not play and that the players are the one making the mistakes. The coach is suppose to put the players in position to succeed and he is stuck on politics which wont let him coach properly.
    Even with all the questions in my mind, I will stand behind the coach so that I can kick him in the ass if he fails. I don’t hate the coach, I just don’t like his decisions.

  • I don’t think trust is the issue. Do I think this team could win the Cup? Absolutely! Do I realistically think they will? No, my brain says you’ve watched them all season and they are a very flawed group. I think Chris Kreider was spot on with his recent comments. The Rangers D zone breakouts are horrendous and there is no flow to their game. How often do you see the two D-men backing up in their zone instead of headmaning the puck? That’s because the forwards go to the boards and the opposition covers them right away forcing the Rangers D to skate it out instead of passing it up, and only McDonagh & Yandle can do that. So the D have no one to pass it too. Recently I saw a gif where G was criticized for just getting rid of the puck, but he had somebody on him right away & no where to pass it too. It reminds me of Mess’ criticism of Roger Neilson in 92-93 when he said the Rangers had only one way to exit their zone & other teams, especially the Pens had figured it out. I think teams have figured it out & AV & his coaches have yet to come up with a countermove. What is telling for me is watching Lundqvist being interviwed after a loss this year. Not only is he frustrated but I sense an underlying anger there that he strives to keep in control. This is a really good team, with a great goalie, that could go all the way, but like others I question the coach’s ability to maximize the probability of that happening.

    • About 3 months ago, when the Rangers were coming out of that awful December swoon, Girardi was saying something in the locker room after a good game about how finally the forwards are disciplined and in the right spots on their breakouts. The fact the forwards were where they are supposed to be made it easier for the D to start the breakout. It’s somewhat similar to your Kreider quote.

      In other words, it doesn’t seem to be an issue with the plan but the execution of said plan. Again, I’m thinking the team gets dialed in at some point over the next 5 weeks and gets this all straightened out by the playoffs.

  • I do trust them in the playoffs AV isn’t stupid like we’ve started to think he is throughout this season. There has to be some method to all of this madness

  • Lets be realistic,
    The way this team has showed its inconsistent play this year, unless they somehow become extra hungry and focused, and Hank spins on his head, it is unlikely they will go deep into the playoff run. Washington,Tampa, Islanders,Chicago, L. A., Anaheim just to name a few are very strong obstacles to overcome playoff time.
    Half of the Defense is older, slow and soft. Way to many turnovers in their own end. Lines have clicked now and then, but not consistent enough. It also seems like this team at many times lacks chemistry. I was watching the Islanders fourth line the other night and saw how much better they seemed then the Rangers unsettled fourth line. If they play the Islanders the first round (as much as I detest the Islanders), though it may go the length of the series, there is a good chance, they may be eliminated.

  • I have set the bar low. If they play the fish sticks in the first round and fry them, I will be happy. If they make it thru the second round, then they are better than I thought and I will have reason to hope they will go even further. Win another round and I will be thinking cup faster than you can say Messier. ?

  • Bottom line is that AV needs to get outside his comfort zone. He’s very stubborn when it comes to guys he trusts and guys he doesn’t. He fixates on keeping certain players together or keeping certain players in specific spots in the lineup, rather than putting the best possible lines together for a balanced, defensively competent forward group. He uses the 4th line as punishment instead of an asset.

    He insists on McD-Girardi pairing even though their play together suggests they’d both be better off with different partners.

    He insists on man to man defense when the team struggles mightily with D zone coverage.

    The players certainly have more to give, but they’re being set up to fail by an imbecile right now.

  • Right now, I don’t see this team taking 4 games from the Islanders. All season I’ve been expecting them to click, for the consistency of last year to reappear. But it’s now mid-March and the only conclusion I can draw is that it isn’t coming back. Girardi, M.Staal and Boyle have all suffered a steep decline this season, but so has the play of almost the entire team, front to back. Nash has obviously been missed (even when he’s played!), as have Hagelin and to some extent even Marty. But their absence does not explain this drop-off. AV doesn’t seem to have any answers, or at least he hasn’t found them yet. He’s also incredibly stubborn – Girardi is a possession hole, and yet his ice time hasn’t ever dipped!
    JT Miller’s (brief?) emergence has been a highlight, and Brass and Zucc are simply a joy to have on the team. And Yandle, once he was given the time to shine, has shown exactly why we must keep him this summer. But beyond them it has been an incredibly frustrating year.
    Perhaps expectations were too high due to AV’s initial successes, but I believe any deep run in these play-offs would be a surprise, even if Hank plays at his absolute, otherworldly best in every game.

    Here’s to the rebuild – may the salary cap pains not bite to hard!

  • This has been a strange year. It has pretty much been all Lundqvist. When he has played well, they have won an extraordinary percentage of the games and when he has played poorly, they typically lose (as we saw Sunday). The ups and downs of the skaters seem to have little or no effect.

    As for this year, well suspect they have a shot against anyone in the playoffs except alas the Islanders.

    • Why are you so scared of the Islanders? They aren’t that great a team.

      The Rangers have shown that they have the capacity to shut down Tavares. The Isles fourth line gets overplayed and I guarantee the Rangers will expose them in a seven game series. Finally, the Isles have an atrocious third pair on the blue line. I said it yesterday as well, which ever of the Rangers top three lines draws the isles bottom pair is going to have a monster series.

  • The Islanders play a very quick transition game that has given the slow Ranger defense trouble. They are quick and overall more physical then the Rangers. The Rangers have an obvious edge in Goal tending, though the Islander goalies are no slouches. Either way, The Islanders seem to up their game against the Rangers. I like the heart the Rangers showed the other night to come back after being four goals down to the Fishsticks. I hate to be a pessimist, but I have my doubts about this Ranger team, but they do have a way at times, of waking up and surprising you. Either way, it could be a very tough series. Definitely can’t see them beating the Capitals again this year.

  • A direct answer, NO.
    Analysis, (without charts) A Torts team had considerable less talent and skill but had much more grit and a younger Girardi and Staal. They went far for what they had compared to todays group. They gave us some thrills and hope.
    The fans opined that we needed better line combos, more skill, less emphasis on blocking shots, a new coach and that one big goal scorer.

    The AV squad has better talent and skill and this year is even better than last as far as skill. However it misses the grit factor and some age is showing on some of the D. If we had a little from column A and a little from column B, I would be much more optimistic.

    If we play the icelanders we will not prevail. Boyle and Glass will be blamed Girardi and Staal also. We just don’t have the combination of skills to go with grit. You can’t be one dimensional. We play fast, look great on the rush but we are not a tenacious forechecking team and we don’t make it hard on the other guys.

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