Some Friday thoughts

Bruce Bennett/AP

Last night, the Rangers collected their eight victory of the season over the red hot (?!) Edmonton Oilers. The Blueshirts spoiled Cam Talbot’s return to the Garden and scored five goals for the sixth time in eleven games this season, which is nuts. Any way, I have some thoughts.

1. There has been a lot of discussion about PDO when it comes to the Rangers performance thus far. It’s not like last year where unsustainably hot goaltending was masking other issues, but more of a discussion about high shooting percentage and low save percentage evening out. The Rangers would still be a very good team under this analysis, but just not the offensive powerhouse that they have been to this point.

However, I don’t think this analysis is as simple as “hot shooting, cold goaltending”, as many are framing. From a scouting standpoint, I don’t think Henrik Lundqvist’s performance is accurately reflected in his save percentage. If you take a look at the scoring chance charts that Dave has been including in the game recaps, there is a disproportionate amount of high dangers shots that Hank has faced. So maybe it’s not save percentage regression from a performance standpoint, but save percentage regression from “defense improves” standpoint. Hopefully.

2. It makes me very happy to see Rick Nash back in form. Obviously, when you carry a hefty cap hit and arrive in New York with dramatic fanfare, it creates high expectations. Nash is far too talented a hockey player to not produce again after a disappointing season, and gets far too much flak from fans considering how much he brings to the table for this team.

3. Nick Holden has looked better in recent games, but he still should be the one in the press box.

4. Dave, Chris, The Suit (yes, he is still alive) and myself were discussing the expansion draft the other day and the topic of Kevin Klein came up. My position was that Klein needed to be protected in the draft, and one of Staal or Girardi had to be sacrificed for this purpose. The feeling was that quality, relatively inexpensive, RHD that can play top-4 minutes, would be claimed in a heartbeat. I’m curious as to your thoughts.

5. Over the next nine games, the Rangers have three back-to-backs. This should give Antti Raanta an ample opportunity to get some starts and keep Hank rested. For the next fifteen games beyond that, they are basically every other day with two more back-to-backs. I know that AV likes to let Hank get on a roll and keep his reps consistent, but hopefully the structure of the schedule forces his hand and gets Raanta at least seven or eight games over that stretch.

6. Regardless of your opinion on AV’s decision to marginalize Zibenejad, Kreider and Vesey last night toward the end of the second period, it was nice to see him identify an in-game problem and make an adjustment. He has shown a track record of being stubborn with his personnel decisions (in-game, specifically) and this type of decision bodes well for future flexibility. Now, if he would only apply the same logic to the back end.

7. Kevin Hayes was a beast last night. The line with Miller and Grabner is really clicking, although I would like to see Buchnevich eventually swap in for Grabner.

8. This statement is not based on a single game worth of performance, but it the rumblings have been starting again in light of the Oilers’ hot start, so it’s worth spelling out again: Cam Talbot is not a better goaltender than Henrik Lundqvist. He never has been, and very likely, never will be.

9. While there is always quite a bit to analyze (and complain about!) in Rangerland, all is pretty good right now. The defense needs to be addressed and cutting down on some scoring chances against should hopefully help keep the forwards from having to score five goals per game, but the Rangers are a fun team to watch again. After a nice run of success at home, they need to look to build some consistency on the road. Hopefully we see this on the upcoming trip.

That’s it for me this week. Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

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  • Totally agree about Hank’s numbers not being an accurate reflection of how he has played overall. Low shots against totals in a few games drove down sv%. Couple that with some very high danger scoring chances like Tarasenko’s goal in the first Blues games or the 2 on 0 after Girardi’s snow angel and you have a slightly higher GAA. That evens out over the season. I disagree re Buchnevich right now. Grabner has been a beast and that line has some serious chemistry. Maybe later in the season Buch moves up to a different line, but it’s not a bad idea to shelter a rookie for a while.

    • I didn’t mean to imply moving Buchnevich right this second, I just meant that should be the direction of the deployment as Grabner regresses.

    • The King has been ok so far, and I’m a big defender of him. I mean the 3rd Oiler goal through the 5 hole should never happen. But his game seems to be coming especially after shutting out the Blues.

      As for Buch, his underlying stats are all positive, the only thing that hasn’t happened is him scoring goals. That will come. i think that he needs to play with Hayes and Miller. I love what Grabner is doing but he doesn’t have the skills that Buch has. Grabner with Pirri (good skills) and Fast would be fine as, to me, it’s more important in the ling run that Buch play on a skilled offensive line.

  • Justin,

    How do you feel about whether the offensive breakouts the Rangers have been relying on is sustainable? The forwards are providing a disproportionate amount of the work right now, forcing them to either move the puck the full 200′ or rushing with only one or two forwards. This is going to wear our forwards down over time. I know the CW seems to be that aggressive back-checking will compensate for our porous D, but that can only go on so long. The AV system necessitates our D getting the puck and springing the rush. Right now, the Rangers are effectively executing the rush by involving forwards on the back end of the play. At what point does this band-aid to our defensive woes become a liability that affects not only defense, but offensive longevity as well?

    • I’ve been seeing this same point come up a lot lately, the idea that the forwards will tire out from skating too much with the puck. I don’t think that’s the case though. What tires out hockey players is the physical grind. I feel like hitting, getting hit, and blocking shots, that’s what wears down players, not lugging the puck. So if the Rangers continue to play a speed game and continue to have minimal contact in most of their games, I think they are going to hold up just fine.

      If teams, like Edmonton last night, can get away with hooking and holding the Rangers to slow them down, then the Rangers will have a long term issue. But if the refs call the game properly, the Rangers should be able to keep skating and free-wheeling like this all season. It worked for the Rangers in 13-14 and it worked for the Pens last year.

      • It’s not as simple as skating with the puck = fatigue.

        It’s fast-paced rushes down the length of the ice, followed by fast paced back-checking to the other end, digging for pucks and battling on the boards as necessary, with a forward often coming away with the puck to spring the rush to his two linemates, limiting overall options since one forward is back setting the play up instead of D springing the rush. Over time, this it’s going to have an impact on our overall speed game, I fear. We need the D to move the puck and to be the origin of the majority of the rushes.

        McDonagh obviously does this well, and Skjei and Holden are starting to show some puck moving prowess, but I’m wonder if it plateaus at this point, will it impact Rangers offense long term?

        • Also, I’d add, I think the 2013-14 Rangers had the ability to do precisely what it is I’m suggesting from the D, move the puck and generate the rush.

          McDonagh was a beast that season, and they had lots of puck movers, such as Moore, Stralman, Del Zotto (half the season), Diaz (for a handfull of games), on the backend that take the strain off the forwards.

          • I think it is a big ask to have the forwards be responsible for pushing the forward progress at both ends of the ice. For it to be truly sustainable, the defense needs to be more active in the transition and first pass.

            They have been much better than I expected, but the forwards are provided tremendous support for the short outlet that the defense has been making.

            I think it can be ok long term, I just would be more comfortable with better puck movement from the backend.

          • That’s why rolling 4 lines is so important. Loved Torts, but he shortened the bench too soon and too often

    • I’m with you Chris F on the fatigue factor as I have been beating that drum since the beginning of the year.

      The Ranger forwards are going below the defensive hash marks to defend which means that they are going basically the length of the ice to go the other way.

      Plus notice the gap control? very good so far. All this means the amount of energy expended is at a max almost all game long. Can they keep this up?

      I want to see this in January and beyond. The playoffs are what matters most and they could be a fatigued team by then. No one knows but we will all find out together.

      The good news is that the coach is evenly distributing minutes. Yes, that’s a compliment for the coach. I’m going to go throw up now, lol.

  • Believe it or not, Hank’s numbers really do reflect his performance. Most people just don’t understand them.

    Here are the actual facts, with opinions in parentheses. Braden Holtby’s save percentage so far this year is pretty much exactly Hank’s career average. (So I don’t think we would be complaining about Holtby’s numbers) Hank has faced two more shots than Holtby and has given up two more goals. So had Hank given up two fewer goals to date, his numbers would be almost identical to Holtby’s. (So Hank’s bad numbers to date are the result of two extra goals given up.)

    Now Hank has not been on fire so far and has given up some soft goals. The numbers taken literally suggest Hank has given up two more soft goals in his nine games than we usually expect, perhaps three instead of one or four instead of two. (I think that is about right.)

    • Exactly. 9 starts in, SV% is fairly inconsequential because of all the noise you listed in your explanation.

      It’s like looking at batting average in late April and getting all excited because a player is hitting .330. That same player is three hit less games from dropping below .300.

      • The statistical element wasn’t necessarily my point, Ray. I understand the point you are making, but the reality of the situation is the high probability scoring chances against that the Rangers are allowing.

        Since all shots are not created equal, had Hank faced less high probability scoring chances, his stats could offset a soft goal here or there while still keeping him in line with career averages. The “hung out to dry” element has kept his save percentage artificially low versus expected performance based on the eye test off his play.

        • I just don’t buy those shot quality metrics. Suppose we ask the question “Is Lundqvist a better goaltender than Gretzky was a center?” Based on the shot metrics of last year, I think the conclusion would be that Hank was the better player. He was just orders of magnitude better than anyone else and it was positively silly that he was not just the Vezina winner, but was not the only candidate.

          That conclusion just seems absurd to me. Shot quality is important. Determining shot quality is hard. Yes, people are trying. However, for me, until the results seem believable, I won’t give them much credence.

          Two examples. A shot last year where Marc Staal positioned himself so that to avoid Staal, he could only shoot at half the net; an easy stop for Hank, who has a clear view. A shot this year through Skjei’s legs. You say it actually hit Skjei, but let’s assume it didn’t since this is really hypothetical anyway. Hank needs to protect the whole net and he is fully screened by Skjei. Would be a tough save in any case. Now, I am talking about two shots from about the same distance with a defender on the shooter between the shooter and Hank. Do the metrics really understand that one is easy and one is tough? And these things don’t even out because Staal was exhibiting skill and Skjei was not AND while it is true that all defensemen make both good and bad plays, better defensemen make more good plays and goaltenders play with the same defensemen all year.

          • To answer the question at the end……. no they don’t but based on law of averages, if a team is giving up a ton of chances in the square that exists from the tops of the circles, through the dots and down to the top of the crease, you can reasonably assume that the defensive scheme is not doing it’s job and the goalie has a harder workload than his peers.

            There simply is no D zone schematic which exists that does not try to limit those chances. Full marks for pointing out things a defender can do to help his goalie (I am a defenseman) but at the end of the day, the shot location charts show a trend- perhaps more indicative of rating a team’s d zone system, than a goalie’s ability however a correlation exists. The poorer a 5 man defensive unit, the better the goalie has to be to cover his slack.

            To throw shot location data out entirely because it isn’t perfect is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

          • I agree Hatrick. Also see what you are saying to a degree Ray, but at the same time, close shots are less reaction time for the goalie, regardless of any other situational parameters. The defense continually allows opposing skaters to penetrate the zone. I personally think that is a combo of AVs system and the talent – to summarize, it’s asking mostly average to slow skaters to chase and suffocate mostly average to above average opposing skaters. In theory that leads to loose forwards getting way too close to the goalie too often…so you take that basic assumption, you look at the high danger shot charts (which again nobody contends are 100% perfect and air tight but also cannot be completely ignored) and you watch opposing skaters enter Hank’s yard frequently…it’s fairly obvious, all things considered. Hank still has a harder job than many goalies, even with a seemingly very slightly improved defense this season.

          • My point is that it is close shots instead of unmolested shots, it is close shots instead of screen shots, it is close shots instead of shots where a rebound is a certain goal, and on and on.

    • Ray,

      Unless I am missing something, your analysis completely ignores shot quality. As Justin pointed out in his retort that is a critical piece to the puzzle.

      • Absolutely!

        Shot quality is important. However, at this stage of the game, attempts to measure it are so poor that it should be ignored.

        What I said was that Hank had given up two more soft goals by this time than he usually does and that totally explains the difference between his current save percentage and his career norm.

        Yes, it is possible that in addition he has faced harder shots than usual, but that effect has been offset by either particularly good play (which no one has noticed) or just plain good luck.

        I am just using Occam’s razor here. Hank’s bad start so far is merely two extra goals allowed. We’ve seen those two goals. Why on earth are we looking for a deeper explanation?

        • I guess that is my point, Ray. At this juncture of the season, no stat is going to be reliable. I’m going fully on the eye test here, which is why I don’t like the PDO calculation implying the Rangers are getting suspect goaltending based on a small sample save percentage.

          • I’m not sure we are in different places. We both expect the goaltending numbers to revert to normal, I think. Last year, Cam Talbot had a stretch where he let in about one questionable goal a game for ten games running and one really had to wonder if he could get back on track. But Hank’s greatest asset is his consistency. If he gives up a few unwarranted goals in a stretch, you just know the stretch won’t last long.

            I think – but you may know better than I – that when a great tender slips, it isn’t a matter of giving up more soft goals, but rather more like stopping a kind of shot 90% of the time that he used to stop 95% of the time.
            Really hard to detect except the numbers aren’t quite so good.

        • I am baffled that you don’t seem to have any problem with a raw shot count (which sv% is derived from) but have a tremendous bias on shot location data.

          All it is doing is taking your 32 shots on goal, and putting a little dot on a picture of a hockey rink where each shot was taken. That chart, without question tells us more information than the mere “32” in the shots column on a score sheet. Best believe if I am a coach I’ll be less likely to blame my goalie for letting in a 4 spot if 20 of those 32 shots came from the slot, as opposed to from the outside.

          You are absolutely correct in saying that more factors go into the equation than just location. These items are being worked on. But in the meantime, to ignore the data we have or to write it off completely is a bit extreme in my opinion.

          • In baseball, hitting the ball far is good. So we could just rate hitters on how far they hit the ball. However, we would soon find that fly ball hitters were good players and ground ball hitters were bad players.

            My point is that an incomplete picture can be worse than no picture at all. And so it is hardly extreme to ignore an incomplete picture.

            Each team has a defensive strategy. It tries to minimize shots that pose a great challenge to its particular goaltender. One team may be more concerned about screens than another. Another more concerned about closeness, or specific angle. They can focus on stopping high shots or low shots.

            Almost inevitably, a primitive shot assessment technique will determine that one strategy is better than another when there is no basis for that belief.

            I rely on two ideas here. One is that if not done well, there is no reason for this data to be better than nothing. The second is that what it told us last year struck me as not credible. It told us that Lundqvist was beyond unbelievably good and it partially inspired Justin to declare Steve Mason the 7th best tender in the NHL. Granted, the data set is small, but among goalies with 5 or more games this year, Mason is 34th out of 35 in both GAA and Save%. [This is an assessment I questioned at the time, despite the fact that very clearly Justin knows the position way better than I do.]

          • I would love to know whether or not the players themselves consider these analytics to be as useless as some do.

  • Don’t forget that Grabner once scored 30 goals. You don’t do that without having decent hands in the NHL. Watching him play he deserves to be where he is at the moment. If that changes, then consider dropping him down. Buch is young and he can be brought along in time.

  • Definitely agree on Klein. He’ll bring veteran leadership/top 4 skill to LV, but also gives them a nice asset to flip at the deadline to a playoff team if they want to. (Maybe even back here)

    • I think the Rangers will have several players that Las Vegas would like to take and we should just assume that one choice is a sure thing. Many here have been assuming that the Rangers will have to expose a forward who is sure to be taken, Nash for example. Raanta will certainly be an attractive choice and yes, they must pick some goaltenders. And as noted here, Klein is an appealing choice. The only real way to save yourself is to abandon your depth, which is just crazy.

      IMO, whoever is taken will not be as valuable as Michael Sauer. Sauer was lost for nothing of course and the loss did not stop the Rangers from contending. The draft is just going to be a setback which affects all teams.

      • Klein is very quietly declining. Hiding him on the third pair is a stroke of genius by AV/Beuke. He may have lost a step because he’s 32 or, hopefully, he has yet to recover fully from the back issue that flared up at the end of Training Camp.

        Holden and Staal seem to be finding some chemistry, which makes sense as they are practically clones of each other. Both players are tall and have a long wingspan, but they are not the best skaters and they have to compensate with sound positioning. The bigger issue is what happens when it’s time to promote Skjei to the top pair. Klein/Girardi sounds like a potential tire fire. If Klein improves during the year, then maybe he can retake his position next to Staal on the 2nd pair and Holden/Girardi could possibly work as a 3rd pair if the Rangers are vigilant with their deployment.

        Back to your point though, if Klein was lost in the expansion draft, I wouldn’t be too broken up over it. Ryan Graves will be a Ranger next year, someone has to go to make room for him on the blue line.

    • Unfortunately, because of the no move clauses in their contracts, I don’t think G or Staal can be exposed in the expansion draft.

  • I certainly agree that Lundquist has a tendency to give up a soft one ( goal #), if you look at goal # 1, Nugent-Hopkins wide open 5 feet from right side of net. Goal # 2 was essentially a 2 on zero.
    On point # 4, Steve Zipay on Newsday, said that both Girardi’s and Staal have to be protected because of their NMC. Is this correct?
    On # 7, you don’t dare touch that line the way it is playing. Grabner’s speed is part of what is making that line work. He also knows how to finish.

    • Until Grabner/Hayes/Miller line stops producing, Buch is relegated to 4th line duties. On one hand, it’s nice to see Grabner and Hayes playing well, but on the other, you can’t waste Buch on the fourth line.

      • Vesey looked pedestrian last night. If that we’re to happen again in the near future, maybe he gets some reps with Pirri/ Fast and Buch slides up to skate with Nash/Stepan (assuming the other two trios from Thursday don’t get broken up).

        Point is, with this kind of roster flexibility no one is really relegated anywhere.

        • Exactly. The fourth line isn’t really a checking line on the Rangers, it’s just where the least effective players reside on a particular night. As long as AV does that all year, the Rangers are going to be tough to stop. Nothing keeps players playing at their absolute highest level like constantly having to fight for a seat at the table.

    • On #4, yes and no. There is a buyout window before the draft and either Girardi or Staal can be bought out at that time. Second, even if they are not bought out, it is not true that they must be protected. What is true is that they cannot be exposed in the draft without their consent. The case of Girardi is rather interesting. We can argue about how good he is, but I think everyone agrees that he is not a $5.5M/yr defenseman. So Las Vegas picking him just seems dumb. Well, if you’re Dan, there are benefits to being exposed — like not losing a valuable teammate or maybe consenting so you won’t be bought out. One caveat though — Las Vegas must draft a certain amount of salary I think and so can’t just pick cheap players. That might lead them to intentionally choose a player they know is overpaid.

    • The RNH goal goes from post to post with a detour by McJesus in the space of a second. RNH is unmarked and on his off wing.

      If you think that’s a soft goal on Hank, I’m at a loss for polite words.

  • Justin,

    I would pose a question as to whether GAA or save percentage is a better measure for assessing Lundqvist. There is a huge difference between active goalies like Price, Fleury, Murray and stay at home guys like Hank and Holtby. I remember watching Murray in action during the playoffs while facing virtually no shots on goal. He was a big part of the game. But if the Rangers hold the opposition to two shots on goal in a period, Lundqvist is not really a part of the game and it is much much harder for him to stay mentally involved. So while it is at least twice as hard for an active goalie to face 40 shots than to face 20, the blistering pace just helps Hank to maintain his rhythm.

    • Ray, at this stage of the season I don’t think either stat is even remotely accurate to gauge any goalie’s performance. Typically, a lower workload has a tendency to affect focus, but there is a fine line between being active and being overworked. There is certainly a rhythm aspect, though.

      • I agree on the sample size problem. I was thinking in terms of interpreting a larger sample. What we have seen so far is a noticeable drop in opponent shots on goal. My question was whether or not this would be expected to reduce the number of goals against in the case of a Lundqvist-style goalie.

  • I was one of the people who criticized Holden. But he is been playing better I didn’t even notice him last night.

  • It’s only 11 games, way too soon to get too giddy or form any real conclusion. That’s what my head is saying anyway. But it’s hard to contain my Rangers heart right now!

    I haven’t been able to see a lot of games live thus far, so I’m basing my impressions on the little I’ve seen and what I’ve read from each of you. My biggest take away is about Hank. People have debated the “Hank Effect” on the Rangers for a few years now. Does he carry this team, or do we give him too much credit for the team’s success? I’ve always been in the camp of the former. Hank has been the one true star player on this team for most of the past decade. He’s been the difference maker. Think back on all the playoff previews you’ve ever read. For the most part, they’ve concluded with “If Hank stands on his head, then the Rangers can win”. Think about most of those victories over the years. They’ve been like Armageddon. Goals were so tough to come by in post season. Hank had to be virtually letter perfect. That’s an enormous burden to bear game after game, series after series and year after year.

    This may be the year when that narrative finally flips. What if, for a change, it’s the rest of the team that carries Hank instead of the other way around? Is McDonagh ready to emerge as the Rangers best player? Maybe Kreider? Maybe Miller and Hayes? Are other players ready to become true stars or even, dare I say, elite players? Is this team just so deep at forward now that the goals will no longer be at a premium come playoff time? Does that mean Hank can play a little more relaxed and not feel that if he makes one mistake, the Rangers lose (see pretty much every game of the 2014 SCF and Games 5 and 7 of the 2015 ECF for a refresher on what I’m talking about)?

    Think back on every Stanley Cup Champion over the past decade. Can you think of one where their best player was a goalie? Yes, there have been three Conn Smythe Trophy winners who were goalies during that period (Cam Ward, Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick), but every one of those teams had big time star players to carry the load on offense and defense. Hank has had to bear a disproportionate burden.

    We should have a much better idea of what this team really is in about 4-6 weeks. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the ride!

    • Tim Thomas did win the Cup. Yes, he was not the only player on the team, but no one else really mattered.

      Hank is good, but your memory of him is even better. In his first six years as a Ranger, the team made the playoffs five times and advanced to the second round only twice. Their two victims had finished ahead of them in the standings by two and three points respectively (essentially 50/50 matches). There was no great stepping up in the postseason.

      Lundqvist may have carried the Rangers in those days, but he really didn’t carry them very far. It was only in the 2011-2012 season when the Rangers became a complete team that there was any real success. Today, Hank is a very good player, but he is not the Rangers. If you offered any NHL team either Hank or McDonagh with a cap hit of zero, most would take McDonagh.

      Oh, and in 2014 and 2015, I would have done as AV did and use Hank as my starting playoff goalie instead of Talbot. The decision was clear. HOWEVER, we do not actually know that the Rangers would not have won the Cup with Talbot in goal.

      • No, no one else mattered on that Bruins team. They only had a future HOF on defense in Charra who was still a monster at that point. 🙂

        But I agree, the closest argument you can make to a goalie putting his team on his back and winning it all was indeed Thomas. Best goaltending exhibition I’ve seen in the past decade in one post season.

        As for Hank, I think you are being way too harsh. Look at the talent or lack thereof on those teams early in his career and look at the competition, and tell me who he was supposed to beat that he didn’t?

        ’06–lost to Devils. Hank was a rookie and was burnt out after the Olympics and Jagr got injured in that series as I recall. No chance.

        ’07–they swept a good Thrashers team that was on a par with them, then despite being huge underdogs, lost in 6 thrilling games to the President Trophy winning Sabres despite playing valiantly.

        ’08–beat a good Devils team in round one. Got swept by the eventual EC Champion Pens, who were head and shoulders better talent wise.

        ’09–mediocre Rangers team imploded vs Washington after their crazed head coach did. Hank nearly pulled off what would have been a stunning upset.

        ’11–same deal….mediocre Rangers team loses to a Caps team that was the best in the East in the regular season.

        ’12–with a better team in front of him, Hank was still hands down the best player on that team. He won the Vezina that year. And when the offense dried up in post season as it has done way too often in his tenure as Rangers goalie, he shined brilliantly, winning huge elimination games in Game 6 and 7 vs Ottawa and then Game 7 vs the Caps. His play in both series was THE difference. Unfortunately, the Rangers were totally gassed vs the Devils and that was that. I don’t put that on Hank at all. The Rangers were offensively inept in that post season.

        ’13–the shortened season skews the record, but the Caps were a far more talented team than the Rangers were. NYR was down 2-0 in the series and then faced elimination in Game 6. Hank played one of the best games of his career, and then miraculously, the offense showed up and he won Game 7. Back to back shutouts of one of the most high powered offenses in the league. Next round, a gassed Rangers team that seemed dispirited and demoralized had no chance vs a far superior Bruins team that was on its way to the Cup Finals.

        ’14–Beat the Flyers in a tough 7 game series. Was stellar when it mattered most in the comeback vs the Pens. Was absolutely brilliant vs the Canadiens and that save in Game 6 is still one of the greatest ever. And in the SC Finals, when the ice seemed tilted and we were overrun by a far better team, Hank gave us a chance to win every game except Game 3. He was brilliant and his teammates let him down.

        ’15–our inconsistent offense made every game vs the Pens a nail biter. Hank was tremendous. Once again, down 3-1, Hank lifted his game when we needed it most to pull off another incredible comeback this time vs the Caps. And against TB, it’s hard to win when the offense dries up at home in Game 5 and 7, and his defense was almost completely compromised due to injury.

        ’16–the team just wasn’t good enough against the eventual SC Champs.

        I don’t see how Hank is the culprit. Indeed, he lifted good but hardly great teams into a position to even have a shot.

        On the McDonagh question, I agree if that question were asked today, you may be right. No way that would be the case any other year. And I agree with you….it’s in the Rangers best interest if Hank is not the Rangers only hope. This year I’d like to see the team carry him a little bit more than what we’ve seen in the past.

        As for Talbot, sorry but that’s silliness. I could make the same case for Skapski and Biron. Who’s to say any goalie can’t suddenly get hot and go on a historic run?

        • Hank is a good tender and he had his moments, but you blame the team for everything bad and credit him with everything good.
          For the record, in ’14, the Rangers were much better than Philly, but the Flyer goaltenders stole a couple games and made it close.

          On the McDonagh question, sorry, you lose. Goalies are less valuable than other players. Give Tampa Bay Hank and he plays instead of Bishop or Vassilevsky, an upgrade maybe, but not so much. Give them McDonagh and he doesn’t replace Hedman or Stralman, he plays and the #6 guy sits – a huge plus.

          Sure you can make the case for Skapski, or for yourself that matter if you want to be absurd. However, Talbot had more regular season success than Hank during his two years with the club. He may have wilted under pressure and as coach, I certainly wouldn’t have risked my job playing him, but we don’t actually know what would have happened.

          Facts: Hank has been a better goalie over the years than JS Giguere. However, Hank has never almost won the Cup with a crap team which Giguere did. Hank has never really looked like a Conn Smythe winner.

          • In 2013-14, the Rangers had 96 pts. The Flyers had 94. The Rangers were hardly “much better”. That series was a wash going in.

            Your point about McDonagh is an interesting take, and you have a valid perspective. But that’s a suspect example. Of course TB would select McDonagh over Hank. Heck, they’d likely have selected Subban or Weber over Price. Why? Because they already have two excellent goalies, and, obviously, everyone wants defensive depth that is hard to find.

            But that’s not the point. Given the make up of the Rangers for most of these years, Hank has been, BY FAR, the single most important difference maker on this team. Hank has been among the elite players at his position for a decade and is a sure fire HOFer. McDonagh is a good solid player who perhaps is ready to take that next step. And as I said, maybe this is the year he and other guys ascend ahead of Hank on the team’s pecking order. And that would be the true sign this team is truly a legit Cup contender. But no, for most of the past decade, it’s Hank plays out of his mind in the playoffs or the Rangers are done. End of story.

            As for playing me in goal, hey, that’s a no brainer. You should have seen me in my old Carl Schurz Park street hockey days! 🙂

            You are overrating Talbot. He had no pressure on him and that 2014-15 team was in cruise control and was arguably the best Rangers team of the past decade. He, to this day, hasn’t played in even one must win game in his NHL career. And looking at a small sample size of how a backup plays tells you nothing about what would happen if he was thrust into the role of being “the guy”.

            It’s like a great utility player on a baseball team. Remember Kevin Maas on the ’91 Yankees, or Homer Bush or Ricky Ledee or Shane Spencer on the ’98 Yankees? Everyone said, if only they would play those kids more. Well, the more they played, the worse they got. There have been countless flashes in the pan. I’m not saying Talbot is that, but to say he statistically was better than Hank in a small sample and that somehow suggests he would have been effective in the playoffs when the pressure is on is a big reach.

            Lastly, you are forgetting 2014. Hank would have had a great chance to win the Conn Smythe if only the team wasn’t so inept offensively in the Finals.

          • Actually very people know what happened in 2013-2014. In limited action (18 games?), Talbot put up numbers better than any Hank has ever put up. In fact, if the Rangers have Valiquette instead of Talbot, I don’t think they even make the playoffs. Lundqvist’s W-L record wasn’t particularly good and with a standard backup instead of a super one, the Rangers come to the trade deadline a number of points out of the top eight. I suppose Sather might still roll the dice, but the smart move at that point was to trade Callahan to San Jose (?) for prospects, the other deal he had going, and the Rangers limp to the end of the season.

            Instead the St. Louis deal was made, the team gelled, and Hank stepped up his game. Yes Philly had 94 points while the Rangers had 96. But the Flyers were a legit 94 point team while the Rangers were legit Cup contenders. The Rangers skated rings around the Flyers in every game. Lundqvist was ok in that series, but not remarkable. And he barely outplayed Tokarski in the Montreal series.

            He was impressive against the Pens. In Game 5, he pretty much played the game alone and that was certainly IMO his finest game as a Ranger. And he continued to play well when the team woke up in Games 6 and 7. But all in all, I would not credit 2014 as a Conn Smythe performance. I don’t doubt he would have gotten it had the Rangers won, but the point is that they didn’t win because he did not play like a Smythe winner.


            Finally, Talbot. He was better than Hank as a Ranger in limited action. As you say, he faced no real pressure. Which means very simply that we just don’t know what would have happened had he been the Ranger playoff goalie. As I said above, in AV’s shoes, I would not have chanced it. But neither you nor I knows if he could have won the Cup if given the chance and it is wrong to say that we do.

            I do know which one i’d bet on getting his name on the Cup in the near future though.

          • Your points are very well thought out Ray and you make a great case. I don’t agree, but I salute you for the excellent perspective. I thoroughly enjoy our discussions!

          • Thanks Bobby! Hope all is well!

            What are your thoughts on this team thus far? I suspect you’ve had a chance to see more games than I have and respect your opinion.

    • Hey Eddie, Hope all is well and it’s great to see your name on a post buddy. 20 games. I’ve always believed 20 games is when you start to truly see what you’ve got. This start has been as fun to watch as any season I can recall. Aside from the entertainment value, the ability to score gives you a chance to grab 2 points every time you touch the ice. Since the 8-3 start, the “AV must go” and “McIlrath must be in the lineup” rhetoric has toned down considerably. I guess winning will do that. More importantly, I remember you and I discussing the Kreider factor and how the Rangers play their best hockey when he is playing his best hockey. While I still believe that to be true, it seems (and again, we are only 11 game into the season) that the culture of the team has changed due to the offensive depth Gorton has amassed. I love the point you made about the narrative finally flipping and I personally believe that is the biggest headline thus far with this team.

      I hope your schedule loosens up in the near future so you are able to catch some more games as I look forward to your assessment of the greatest show on ice ; )

      All the best pal!

      • Chris-

        Great to hear from you. Yes, it’s an exciting beginning for sure. And agree, 20 games or Thanksgiving is usually the time you take stock of where the team is.

        As you and I have said all along, we need Kreider to play like an elite player. We are seeing positive signs from him as well as Miller, Hayes and McDonagh. The whole team is looking good and it’s going to be a fun team to follow.

        I have a free weekend to recharge the batteries before Tuesay night and the aftermath. It will be a crazy few weeks for sure. I look forward to your analysis as well as everyone else’s.

        Be well…..and go Rangers!!!

  • re: criticizing AV for benching Zibanejad/Kreider/Vesey

    I am a huge proponent of advanced statistics as measures of *backward-looking* performance.

    I am also somewhat of a proponent of advanced statistics as useful tools for projecting *forward-looking* performance.

    But – having said that – the types of coaching decisions that get criticized here make me think the commentors have never played team sports.

    A few examples:
    1. Miller/Hayes management. Fans have raked AV over the years for his handling of these young players in terms of defensive responsibility. At times they had good CF% numbers but were getting buried on the 3rd/4th or scratched for not properly executing the defensive system. Now in 2016 we have two great two-way forwards putting in huge PK minutes. These types of long-term player development decisions cannot be evaluated with advanced metrics and are all about what is being said in the locker room.
    2. Stepan production. People are worried about weaker production as 1C on a line with resurgent Nash and hot rookie Vesey. Meanwhile, the line and team have been among the best in the league. Can you imagine a veteran leader taking a backseat to his wingers, telling them to get to the net, looking for them on breakouts, and hanging back a bit to distribute the puck and keep the defensive responsibility? These are the types of conversations that happen in a locker room, especially early in a season, which won’t be reflected in your eye test OR advanced stats, but are a major part of team chemistry.
    3. Girardi respect. This one is going to get me in trouble because the numbers have been so bad. But if you have ever been a part of an organization with struggling tenured leaders and promising new talent, you have seen this dynamic. As a manager, you must resist the urge to promote and demote players rapid-fire with every swing in performance. Maybe upgrading Girardi to McIlrath gives you a 2-3% CF% boost for one player’s 18 minutes. But it’s not hard to imagine a few other guys CF% dropping 0.5% medium- or long-term because of the change of tone in the room, loss of motivation, or loss of mentorship. And that doesn’t help your team overall. Of course sometimes you have a room that can handle it, when the coach has done a great job building a next-man–up, meroticratic vibe. But there are other times it is not like that for whatever reason. Maybe a player who is struggling was dealing with an injury or problems at home, and his peers think he deserves a break.

    My point is, if you’re not in the room, you will never be able to understand (much less measure) these effects. So the coach should be given more of a benefit of the doubt on individual decisions, especially when the overall team success is so great.

    • Agree somewhat with points 1 and 3 but as far as Stepan he is not taking a backseat, he cant keep up with veseys or nashs talent speed and quickness….I will always believe until its tried for a season or two and it fails that JT Miller is a center and would be miles better than stepan!!!!!

      I do not care for AV, he has had the most talented teams 2 times with vancouver and once here and has nothing to show for it. And his mismanagement of the young players and defenseman are blatent>

      • The 2013-14 NYR’s was hardly “the most talented team”. And making it to the SCF that year and the ECFs in ’14-’15 is hardly having “nothing to show.”

        The real strength of this team right now is with how the under 25’s are playing – Kreider, Miller, Hayes, Skjei, Vesey. Considering their progress – especially the development lines for Kreider, Miller & Hayes, AV is hardly guilty of the “mismanagement of the young players.” In fact, he deserves tremendous credit for how he’s handled them.

      • The puck is faster than any skater. Stepan’s skating doesn’t matter unless he’s caught deep(like Hayes) being a step slow as 3rd man high creates time & space for his superior vision and passing hands.

      • Richie, buddy, I know “AV mismanages the kids” is a popular trope, and trotted out so often that I can see how one might take it as something other than the steaming pile of bullshit it is, but c’mon, where’s the supporting evidence?

        He’s been tough on Kreider, Miller, and Hayes over the years, for sure, and took a lot of flak over it from short-sighted fans who wanted to see these kids getting top tier minutes due to their hype. But there were glaring defensive holes to each of these players’ games, and as a result of the tough love approach each has mightily elevated his game. Just yesterday JT Miller reflected on this journey, and acknowedged the defensive liability he was early on and how good it feels to now earn the coach’s trust. Kreider, Hayes, and Miller are now intregal parts of this team being relied upon to play critical minutes with the game on the line. That’s development. That’s AV.

        Vesey and Buchnevich are both walk-ons getting ample minutes in big-time situations. There’s no indication whatsoever that AV is mismanaging them. He made an in-game decision to bench Vesey and Zibanejad last night, but that was a reflection of their performance, or lackthereof, and part of the process of bringing along young players and teaching them accountability to the details of the game. Given his record with Krieder, Hayes, and Miller, I’m more than willing to defer to AV on this one.

        What about the back-end? Ok, he clearly never really trusted McIlrath to play a big role on this team. Evidence of mismanagement? Or honest assessment of capability? 29 other teams passed on the opportunity to pick McIlrath up without giving anything in return. Maybe a valid assessment? Skjei has been given big minutes because he’s proving he belongs.

        We really need to be careful not to regurgitate tired narratives. Do you have a particular basis for the claim that AV’s youth mismanagement is “blatant”?

        • AV mistakes as i see it
          1. Continues to play girardi and stall over clendening, mcilrath
          2. continues to play holden out of position
          Both had bad giveaways and snowangels last night but with our talent at forward we will win anyway
          3. Buch was doing great on the line with kreider and zib , after returning he in now playing with 4 th liners and no center [very bad for his development he needs to be put in a position to succeed]
          4. Too often plays fast on top lines, and when fats makes mistakes he still plays, while others would sit….players see this!
          5. Plays stepan way too much esp power play and he is 11th on team in scoring
          6. I have to agree with USA coaches JT MIller is a center, played it all throughout his career until AV. Reminds me of a faster brian trottier!
          7. Not to forget the past but , he played martin st louis [1 goal in 19 games] in playoffs game after game and all he did was pass or lose the puck to the other teams, while others [lindberg sat]
          8 Played stall, mcdonagh and girardi in that same series[loss to tampa] while they all had major injuries and had limited mobility……pittsburgh won a cup last year with 2,3 rookie defensemen. We wouldnt have won but at least try something …..
          9 We have a young right handed defenseman banished to the minors who has consistantly out played girardi, stall, holden who could , should be playing his second year as a full timer to improve his game…….
          10. His vancouver team was favored to win against bruins but he was I believe he was against the kings

          But you make good points and beauty is in the eye of the beholder…..

          • Rich-

            Let’s look at each point–

            1. Continues to play two trusted vets who were instrumental to the team’s success in the coach’s first two years, and who are now healthy after a miserable year dealing with lingering injuries. And your complaint is he’s playing them over a player who’s been in the league all of two years and has already played for four other NHL teams who didn’t want him (classic journeyman career) and another guy who was waived, went unclaimed by 29 other teams despite the fact that many of them had substantial cap space and yet none of them were willing to give him a look. And your point is what now?

            2. perhaps, but big deal. It’s game 11 and the team is playing well. And as a unit, this team is allowing far fewer scoring chances than they did last year. Meaningless.

            3. Buch was hurt right? He’s played what, one game on the 4th line? And he’s there because he was hurt and Grabner has been tremendous. That’s your complaint? Oh, and his development will surely be crippled playing on one of the more highly skilled 4th lines in the league. Right.

            He’ll only learn to be more defensively responsible. Far more of a good thing than bad.

            4. Players see how Fast is being used. You are right. Did you know last year, it was widely reported that every line would “fight” over which one would get to have Fast? They all wanted him because they love the guy and the players believe he makes every line he’s on better. So no worries about the players on this.

            5. Stepan is a solid two way center and a team leader. You are basing reducing Stepan’s playing time on 11 games? He’s been an assist machine and is doing a great job setting up his linemates. He’s on pace for a 52 point season, and he hasn’t even gotten a goal yet. Want to lose a room? Start jerking around your veterans after 11 games.

            6. JT Miller played what, one game in the World Cup? He’s played on the power play his whole “career”? What does that mean? The vast majority of his NHL career has been played under AV, so I have no idea what you are talking about. And to compare him to a HOF legend like Trottier is about as over the top as I’ve ever heard. He’s off to a great start, but maybe, just maybe, we can wait until he has, I don’t know, ONE consistently strong NHL season before we compare him with Trottier?

            7. MSL was outrageously good in the 2014 playoffs, and was arguably the Rangers best player in the first half of 2014-15. He had more than earned a long leash in the playoffs, he was absolutely beloved in the room, and I can pretty much guarantee you that just about any coach would NOT have benched a legend like MSL. As for Lindberg, he was barely an NHL player at that point, and a marginal one at that. To expect that you could bench MSL in that media cauldron and think Oscar could step in and improve the team is about as likely as drawing an inside straight.

            Keep in mind, Torts did this to Richards in the ’13 Playoffs. It backfired badly and probably had a lot to do with why he lost the room and lost his job.

            8. Sorry, this is probably the most absurd comparison I’ve ever heard. The Pens had options they could turn to, and they didn’t suddenly turn to them late in a playoff series. The Rangers at that time did not have better options in the minors. Who could they have brought up? Not to mention that unless the kids are incredible talents, you aren’t going to throw them in late in the ECF for essentially their first NHL experience. That’s insanity. Hockey players play through injures. Leetch played with a separated shoulder in the 1994 Cup Finals. These are hockey players. It’s what they do. Sometimes the hockey injury gods don’t smile on you. Nothing you can do. Besides, the reason we lost is because our offense wasn’t able to score in Games 5 and 7. Not because we couldn’t defend.

            9. Already discussed. 29 other GMs and coaches agree with Gorton and AV. McIlrath needs more time in the AHL to se if he can develop his game.

            10. It’s the lazy narrative to say that he was outcoached. I guess every coach that had the best record was outcoached. Or maybe the players were outplayed? Or I guess it’s the players are responsible when we win, but the coach is responsible when we lose? That seems to be the mantra that you are espousing.

            The Bruins beat the Canucks in ’11 beaches their goalie was superhuman and the Canucks goalies were not. Plain and simple. And the ice was totally tilted in ’94. The Kings were the far more talented team. It’s not even close.

            Only Lester Patrick has won more playoff series as a Ranger coach than AV. He’s tied for second with Emile Francis. And Patrick and Francis had elite future HOF players. How many HOF will the Rangers have when this era is recounted? Hank, and who else? MSL, but he was only here a year plus.

            How many current Rangers went to the World Cup this year? Compare that to TB, Pit, Was and other contenders. It’s not even close. But so far this year, we may be seeing other stars emerge and if so, then there’s a chance for the whole narrative to change.

            No coach is perfect. He makes his mistakes like any other coach. But to me, he’s done more with less than any other Rangers coach I can remember.

          • On the “Bruins beat the Canucks paragraph, that should be “because” not “beaches”. Bad autocorrect. 🙂

        • What a great post Chris F!

          I couldn’t agree more with every point you made. As fans, we aren’t exposed to the effects a coach’s disciplinary tactics may or may not have on a player throughout the course of a game, week, series, season or career. The only evidence we have is the on ice performance. Miller’s game is blossoming under AV, Hayes seems to have gotten the point that his play last season was unacceptable and after suffering through the Tortorella years, Kreider appears to be on track for a breakout season. These are the facts. I truly believe AV’s endorsement to waive McIlrath is where the bulk of the “youth mismanagement” rhetoric stems from. I can’t think of another reasonable argument to support the ridiculous claim.

    • Dan-

      This gets my vote as one of the most spot on, well thought out posts I’ve ever read here. Well done. Nothing else I can add.

      Richsomma, there have been countless coaches, especially in the past decade, who have won the President’s Trophy only to fall short in post season. In 2011, he got beat by the Bruins mostly because Tim Thomas put on a clinic and the Canucks goalies crapped the bed. In 2012, he had the misfortune of playing a Kings team that got hot at the right moment and went on to win the Cup. In 2015, he loses Zuc and virtually every player on defense was compromised significantly due to injury. And he still got that to Game 7. How are any of those situations mostly on the coach?

      Mike Keenan had great playoff seasons and massive playoff flame outs in 1986 (to the Rangers) and 1991 (to the North Stars). He won it all only once he had a team that was loaded with future HOF talent that might have had more combined rings than any in modern times.

      Joel Quenneville had two great 100+ point St. Louis teams. He was AV until he was handed one of the most brilliantly constructed and most talented roster of the hard cap era.

      Barry Trotz and Bruce Boudreau have had great team after great team. No dice thus far.

      You have to have talent but to also have to be a little lucky. And past success or failure doesn’t guarantee or suggest what will happen in the future. Look at Keenan post-Rangers. Arguably the worst record ever following a Stanley Cup season. Look at Torts. Since the Cup, the very definition of mediocrity. Look at Crawford….banished to Europe.

      What young players has AV mismanaged? The young players he wouldn’t play in Vancouver all turned out to be bad to average. The GM was eventually fired. In NY, who has he “mismanaged”? Maybe McIlrath. But he’s a minor leaguer that at the moment no one wants. Miller? Hayes? Both had maturing to do and AV was right to be tough on them or they would not have developed as they now seemingly have. He’s been patient and supportive with Kreider and now we are seeing results. He’s playing Zibanejad, Buchnevich, Skjei, Vesey (who chose to come here….would he have done so if the coach in realit had such a poor reputation with young players?).

      This is one of the younger teams in the league and right now at least the Rangers are thriving. So who has he mismanaged?

      • Thanks m8. I’ll stick around and keep playing devil’s advocate when I see too much back seat driving going on!

      • Hey my friend, hope all is well.

        Could it be? Just maybe? That Miller and Hayes would have played this way earlier in their career if the coach handled them differently?

        It’s a pretty big assumption to say that the way they were handled resulted in the great play we see now.

        Well, I’ve been on the Miller bandwagon for at least 2 years and saw a lot of good in his game that warranted useful minutes that he didn’t get back then.

        My point of view is that this type of play was coming anyway and could have been gotten earlier than it did.

        Cue the pitchforks, lol.

        • It’s certainly possible. But my point is it is impossible to say either way when you’re not in the room. The people IN the room don’t even know for sure.

          But when:
          1) all indications are that the room buys into AV’s process (as evidenced by e.g. Miller, Hayes, Kreider acknowledging their previous deficiencies and the value of the ‘process’, resigning on team-friendly terms, recruiting their friends to the team)
          2) the overall success of the team is so high for an extended period of time

          The right answer is probably to give the coach the benefit of the doubt.

          The McIlrath example is dead. If you think AV is a bad talent evaluator by that example, there isn’t anyone in any of the other 29 front offices in the league who agrees with you. You are wrong, end of story.

          • Eddie has made some valid points that we are not at practice, etc to see what goes on all the time.

            Ok, I buy that to a certain extent, but doesn’t it come down to what they do in the games?

            Allan Iverson was the worst “practice” athlete of all time, but like him or not, he was a superstar basketball player. Granted that’s an extreme example but what I saw from Miller in the games did not warrant him not getting useful playing time.

            The coach benches Clendening for “inefficient touches” but then watches his current D men implode on a regular basis with no ramifications. Be consistent.

        • Richter, always good to hear from you!

          Listen, as Dan astutely put it, none of us are in the room so we will never know for sure. What we do know is this…

          Miller–had not only glaring holes in his game but well documented work ethic and attitude issues.

          Hayes–AV played him quite a bit in his rookie year didn’t he? He actually gave him MORE minutes last year, despite a drop off in performance and despite the fact that it seemingly was evident to everyone covering the team that Hayes wasn’t “bringing it” in practice. So AV benched him a few games. You can easily make the case that AV gave him a much longer leash than he deserved. Turned out, Hayes was not in good enough physical condition, so there was a reason for the tough love.

          Kreider–he’s has stuck with him through thick and thin, hasn’t he?

          So what’s the common thread? Come ready to compete. If you aren’t going to give a Grade A effort, then you are going to get plenty of tough love, including benchings and demotions. Kreider, for all his incosnsitencies, never failed to give an effort. He just couldn’t find his game. That’s different.

          I often scratch my head when the Miller/Hayes supporters think it’s just fine for young players to give a substandard effort and yet the coach should still play them regardless. I just don’t understand that narrative at all.

          Btw, aren’t many coaches tough on young players? Keenan sent Zubov to the minors as I recall. He trampled all over Chris Pronger when he was a pup. Torts banished Kreider to the minors despite the fact that Kreider arguably saved his job during the 2012 playoffs.

          Young players often need some tough lessons.

          • I have no issue with benching players that do not play 100%, so I agree on that.

            Let’s take Miller. I’ve watched him closely since he broke in here. I go to about 30 games per year plus playoffs and I watched his play away from the puck. Yes, he had defensive lapses, sometimes really bad ones. But let me ask you, who hasn’t? Does it make us feel better that a vet who should know better makes the same mistakes as a rookie? I don’t. I would prefer the young player “work through” his struggles in Oct, Nov, and Dec to be a better player in Mar, Apr, and May (and hopefully Jun, lol).

            Hayes. Here’s a fun fact, Hayes, with all the crap that went on last year was still in the top 150 in player’s pts per 60 minutes, at 2 pts per 60. That’s with getting horrible minutes in the 2nd half of the year when he was in AV’s dog house. So the player has superior skills. Did I like his game all year? No way. But what if AV trusted him then like he trusts him now? Maybe the kid responds in a much better way than brooding through the “tough love.”

            Kreider. He was really a Torts issue than an AV issue. But remember, Torts benched Zuc and had him play on the 4th line on a badly skilled team, so how much can we trust Torts? Torts’ Ranger claim to fame was getting the most out of nothing in 2011-12, one of my favorite Ranger teams of all time. Loved that team and the heart they displayed.

          • But you just said it…’s not about mistakes. AV is ok with that. Remember last year when Miller made the big turnover vs the Caps. AV was fully supportive. So it’s not about mistakes. It’s about effort. If you have a young player who is talented but is not prepared to give his best effort, you MUST address this and fast. That’s what was done with Miller two years ago and Hayes last year.

            As someone who has coached (not on the pro level obviously), lack of effort is the most egregious of sins that simply can’t be tolerated.

            Again, Hayes was out of shape. If AV had the choices at forward he had now, he would have been sitting. As it was, AV played him, and as I said, look at his avg TOI year one vs year two. He had more last year. So how much was he REALLY in the so called doghouse.

            I see no issue with AV’s approach at all.

          • I don’t disagree with any of this bro. Laziness should not be tolerated at all, maybe it’s the track record this coach has on playing favorites and not playing non-faves.

            I will say this though, I see a much different coach this year. He’s simplified the D zone for the D men and has the forwards carrying the load there. He also went back to a zone D for the D men when last year he insisted on a one on one strategy that was a disaster for that D group.

            He’s also distributing minutes very nicely.

            All these nice words about the coach is making me feel dirty, lol.

  • By the way. The video ads on this site are absolutely destroying my computer memory. When they load the chrome tab takes up >1GB of memory and flash eventually crashes. Without them it is <100MB. What gives?

        • It’s an overrated stat I agree, but hardly irrelevant. I seem to recall McIlrath supporters saying his plus/minus was solid.

          • Bro, Holden is near the top of the league and Kreider/Nash are at minuses. Enough said, lol.

        • If it didn’t have value, people would not have to be so insistent on its uselessness. When in doubt, shout.

          • Based on what you see above (Holden, Nash, and Kreider) and what you see on the ice, is it relevant?

            Want a relevant stat? At one point Staal was on the ice for 11 out 21 goals against. Some of that may be bad luck but that’s not good at all, no matter how you slice it.

          • Actually the Holden and Staal stats say the same thing. Staal is on the ice when bad things happen and Holden is not. And when we think that Holden is a major problem, the fact that the puck isn’t going in the Ranger net much when he is on the ice should be sobering.

            Still, (1) +/- is very susceptible to sample size error and the season is young (2) it is a 5 on 5 stat and undervalues good power play performers, and (3) it is not computed correctly because of how it treats short-handed goals and empty net situations.

            If you adjust the numbers accordingly and put what it tells you in perspective, you can get something out of it.

            The history is interesting. Stat becomes widely used. It tells us who is good and who is not. WRONG. It is total crap. again WRONG

          • Love that you’re giving good points, no sarcasm Ray.

            How do you think Holden has played so far? Stats aside and just going by eye test?

          • Richter, I haven’t been able to see any games except the one nationally televised one. He has clearly been clueless on two or more occasions, like he has no idea what he’s doing BUT doing stuff like letting a player skate unmolested into the goal mouth leads to goals against. Since he is not giving up goals, he must not be doing that very much.

          • +/- to me is sort of like RBIs and runs scored, or a pitcher’s W-L record in baseball. It tells you some things, but clearly not everything. You can’t drive in runs, or score runs, or win games, without your teammates contributing.

            Now I agree, Holden at a +10 is clearly not reflective solely of his play and probably has more to do with the forwards playing outstanding than anything else. But the flip side is, he can’t possibly have a +10 if he’s as bad as everyone says he is.

            I’m just saying, he’s been fine and seems to be getting better. Let’s see where it goes before we banish him.

            Is there a rule that whoever gets Dan Boyle’s number automatically gets abused? 🙂

          • Remember Kevin McReynolds? Played outfield for the Mets years ago. He would have 30 HRs and 90 RBIs per year and practically all of them seemed to happen when they weren’t needed, meaning the Mets were down by a lot at the time or up by a lot at the time.

        • Let’s say you have five candy bars. Four taste great, one tastes terrible. Why in the $%@^ would you allow the flavor of the four good ones to have any impact on your objective evaluation of the quality of the remaining one?

          This is what +/- does. I pay it absolutely zero mind for single player evaluation. Now, if you want to get a bit more complicated and see how plus minus shakes out with different player combos, then you have something.

          Holden has been better of late (save for the atrocious penalty yesterday that would have gotten non-favorites nailed to the bench at the very least). That still does not mean he has been good overall – just less horrendous. And if you want a perfect indictment of +/- for individual player evaluation, here it is short and sweet: Nick Holden +10

          • Good examples, for sure.

            Holden has been better, granted, but no way he’s a top pair D. And yeah, +10? Towards the top of the league? LOL,

            +/- only applies to fantasy hockey leagues, lol.

  • Bottom line for me is this: we’ve got rookies Skjei, Vesey and Buch all playing. We’ve got Miller Hayes Kreider all playing. Don’t tell me AV doesn’t play young players.

    The team is playing well right now. The D will most likely lose some games when the forwards can’t score enough to cover them, but for now enjoy it boys. It is a long season.

    • Who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks. Its still very early but I’m encouraged by AV’s new found flexibility. He seems willing to make adjustments and experiment much more this year.

  • So Montreal’s first regular season loss comes as a 10-0 shellacking at the hands of the Blue Jackets. Poor Al Montoya gave up all 10 goals. Sheesh.

  • Staal and Girardi have no move clauses and can’t be exposed to the expansion draft.
    So Klein will most likely be exposed.

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