Where is the Rangers’ killer instinct?

kevin klein rick nash mats zuccarello
Photo: Jim McIsaac/Newsday

I spend most of my posts talking about the Rangers’ prospects, but one thing has been eating me alive for the last year and a half. After being blessed by an incredible 2014 team, the New York Rangers seemed poised to become a Stanley Cup contender for the next few years. While I question some decisions made, that 2014 team still had a great 2015 campaign.

But then, all of a sudden, it all just seemed off. There was and still is something missing while watching our boys in blue. For a team that became one of the more successful teams of the decade –with much of it’s core playing more playoff games than most other teams– they seem to be lacking a certain oomph that makes organizations successful. This applies to both the players and the management, for all of the success these men have seen they still seem to have not learned from their experience.

Killer instinct has become sort of a diluted term that has been thrown around like the word intangibles. A lot of that can be attributed to us all having different definitions. In terms of management it is manipulation, it is using your resources to know exactly what you can and should do because you have been around the block before. The Rangers’ front office staff have been bounty hunters when looking at NCAA prospects, but over the last few years their trades reek of desperation and they have been punished by it.

When defense was an issue last year, the Rangers traded a bounty of assets for Eric Staal. We talked about it multiple times last year, it would’ve been a good trade if the Rangers supplanted it with more blue line depth because at that moment Staal didn’t push the needle. The organization missed earlier opportunities with the Cam Talbot and the Carl Hagelin trades. Now we wait on Brendan Smith. The Rangers paid a lot for him, but if they don’t plan on re-signing him then we are out a pair of pretty high picks again.

Management seems to be going through the motions. Where is the plan? Where is the checklist that Jim Rutherford talked about in his Players Tribune article? The Rangers seem to fix one hole, but not the others.

Regarding players, I think we all know an easy reference. With a boot on the Habs’ throats, they let up with less than 18 seconds remaining. This is a team that has been through hell and back and they can’t close out a playoff game like that?

It’s not just that game either. “The Stat” is almost all but a memory at this point. How many times have we seen them let in a last minute goal? How many times did we watch them sit back after getting the lead and watch it bite them in the ass?

That 2014 team kept pressing with the lead. They were relentless. THAT is Rangers hockey. It’s not just speed it is using your speed to make your opponent never catch a break. It is using your speed to not only prevent the other team from setting up in your zone, but then to immediately catch them flat footed.

It wasn’t just getting shots either, something we’ve lamented on here for a while. The Rangers showed that they not only wanted to win but that they needed to win. They got to dirty areas, they forced the play to high danger areas. There was no complaining that a team clogged the neutral zone or a team had an aggressive penalty kill unit. The Rangers took the play to them. They got to the front of the net, they opened a lane that wasn’t there by attacking the offensive zone in multiple ways. It wasn’t just a “hey I will drop pass to the guy before the blue line and he will come in through the left side for the 20th time, that will work this time for sure.”

If you just want to be embarrassed just look at the shot locations of the Rangers in Game 3. This is absolutely pathetic, you can take the puck to the net you don’t have to just wait for the lanes to open up.

To read this, the darker the orange/red, the more volume of shots in that location for the Rangers. See how little there is, especially around the net? Meanwhile compare that to Montreal, with the darker blue representing higher shot volume in front of the net. It’s pathetic.

The players need to take matters into their own hands. They are pros and they have the skill it is time to show us that they aren’t dead in the water and their head is in the right place. With all of that said, it is important to remember that this team really does have too much skill to be playing this poorly. The coach has to do something and at the moment he hasn’t. The window is closing with AV at the helm, there are no adjustments being made and this is not the play of a team you expect from a coach that has been to the Cup Final twice.

Let us hope that something snaps for them because this is simply terrible for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. There needs to be passion, there needs to be a push for victory and success from the head of the organization down to the bottom because it has gotten increasingly difficult to watch the Rangers swim through the motions. The Dark Years may have been worse but at least they didn’t have such high expectations and talent.

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  • This has been the case for much of the year. I remember more than once us being down and the boys just lazily passing the puck, seemingly uncaring or unknowing that they were down with just a dozen or two seconds left. There was no passion, no intensity, no pressure. That was last game. Just lacking emotion.

    I can’t believe that’s possible in the playoffs, but they manage to do it at least a couple of games every year around this time. At least with the Flyers series a few years back, that game four disaster was the catalyst for an amazing comeback.

  • I actually remember 2014 very differently. In the second round, we were down 2 games to 1 to the Penguins for a game 4 at home and proceeded to lose 4-2 with a total of 15 shots. If you told me that team was coming back to win that series let alone go to the Stanley Cup Finals, I would have laughed in your face.

    My point is, the leaders in this locker room need to stand up and this team needs to play with some fire ASAP. As mentioned, this is a beatable team. We need to go take it.

    • Different leadership group from then until now. Also, that team dealt with a very unexpected in-series tragedy, with the passing of Martin St. Louis’s mother, which undoubtedly galvanized the group and help them out of that hole.

  • Doesn’t anyone else get that feeling that the players are done with AV? If he was able to motivate them (and this may also fall on #27) then wouldn’t they respond better when down? Something just seems off. I would not be surprised if they lost tonight because I doubt AV will adjust much of their game while Julien does adjust to the NYR. Something good coaches do.

    When the defense is flailing around like they have been its easy (and justifiable) to blame that on the actual players. When a talented group of forwards like NYR have stop pushing the tempo, make bad plays, and generally look like they are in a malaise, it has to be a disconnect with the coaching staff.

    There was a tweet yesterday from a TSN690 employee talking about how AV was trying to push the NYR practice and there was no noticeable effort to do anything by the players.

    At what point after this season ends will the beat writers actually acknowledge AV’s faults instead of blaming the players? Why is Kevin Hayes playing as a defensive center? How come Zibanejad hasn’t been as effective since he came back from the broken leg? Why does Marc Staal and Nick Holden get 2nd pairing minutes? Why do the NYR not adjust their breakouts when playing a team like the Habs?

    it’s frustrating to think they may waste another of Henrik by not getting rid of AV after this year. Just thought about yesterday what a coach like Darryl Sutter could do with the talent of these players, especially compared to what he had in LA. He turned Jake Muzzin into a top 20 defensemen and did similar work with guys like Alec Martinez. I mean he even won 2 cups with Jon Quick and his 910 save percentage. Hopefully something drastic changes with this team after exit interviews, like in 2012-13 when Torts was suddenly fired.


    • Ian, with all due respect, AV is not the problem. The problem is that Guy each player sees in the mirror. If being in the playoffs isn’t enough to motivate a player, then he needs to be on one if the teams that didn’t make the playoffs.

      It is easy to insist that the problem must be the coach. AV might not be my favorite hockey coach, but watching this team play last game was maddening not because of deployment, but because of the lack of effort. Getting beaten to the puck, making lazy passes, not taking the body, not digging along the boards ain’t because AV has “lost the room”. It’s because the players aren’t desperate to win.

      • I disagree. No player comes to play with the mindset of I don’t care unless the person giving them the message and strategy is not listening to possible reason or making adjustments to help them.

        Watch every NYR breakout and zone entry and tell me how frustrated the players are because the strategy given to them is faulty.

        Imagine if you went to work and your bosses told you to do something that didn’t work and every day they reminded you to keep doing the exact same thing regardless of what you were going up against.

        Eventually you start saying F this guy, I don’t care. The tactics and in-game ability of this time has declined since 13-14. See the results on an easy to follow chart here:

        I made a #sadchart for the Rangers— Derek (@DSF456) April 17, 2017


        Now compare it to AV’s time in Vancouver:

        AV's Vancouver years. His first season is omitted since it was in the pre-Corsi era. (cc: @Josh_Khalfin)— Derek (@DSF456) April 17, 2017


        • It seems to me that there is a great deal of measurement invalidity when you attempt to compare different groups of players and different teams at different times and then infer the results to the coach who coached the various teams. I am not buying the validity of such comparisons Ian. Maybe if they were the same group of players, but that is not the case here.

          If the players are saying F this guy, then they need to be gotten rid of quickly. What I saw was a failure of effort, not tactics. It isn’t rocket science, it is hockey.

          • Pete, both are failing. Dave summed it up nicely yesterday:

            ” Speaking of insanity, let’s focus on Alain Vigneault. This is the third straight year that the counterattacking style didn’t work in the playoffs. The stretch passes out of the zone don’t work against teams clogging the neutral zone and blue line. It’s time to adjust. Against a team like Montreal that is playing very passive, short and quick passes out of the defensive zone to help gain speed are a must. After that you have two men with speed with the puck carrier to gain the red line, then dump in. The two guys with speed –based on Montreal’s defensive positioning– will get in before the defense to retain possession. From what I saw last night, Montreal’s last two men are between the blue line and the top of the circle. Most of the Rangers’ roster will get to the puck first, as long as they get in with speed. The Rangers are skilled enough that once they gain the zone, they should be able to cycle and get chances, assuming they are fundamentally sound. Based on point #1, they are not.”

            Personnel issues go all the way back to 2014 when AV did nothing to help Girardi in the 1RD slot when he was getting targeted by LA on the dump-ins. They exclusively targeted his corner and ultimately it lead to a turnover which ended our season. Stralman was playing with more success at the time and should have shouldered minutes against LA’s top line, but he was relegated to 2nd pairing for the duration of the series, as no adjustments were made.

            Fast forward to today and the failure of effort AND tactics are present. AV is not exclusively to blame but he certainly earned his part of it.

      • His playoff deployments and adjustments have been lacking for multiple years now. He is certainly part of the problem.

        • Playoff hockey is a different game. AV and the whole league should know that. Just like baseball, what works during the year, doesn’t always work in the playoffs. You need to adjust – and there in lies the problem – the ability to adjust your game.

          We play a style that works well over most of the season, but when the playoffs come around, the rink gets smaller and the checking gets tighter and every player seems to play harder. Every player who has another gear that is. Those players who have played at a constant speed all year seem to find it hard to kick it up to a higher gear – Exhibit A – the NY Rangers.

          They seem to think that their high level of play, that got them 102 points was strong enough all year is “good enough”. AV and his staff have not been able to motivate them to go above and beyond. McD and Stepan and Nash can’t motivate the lockeroom either. Why? I can’t explain this. This is where you need to hire some more “heart and soul” guys. Is Callahan and Dubinsky better than guys we have? Probably not, but they leave it all on the ice, and can show Hayes and Zinbad a thing or two about heart and soul. You win during the season with talent, but you you need heart, soul, talent and motivation to win in the playoffs. The NY Rangers are falling short when you try to bake that playoff cake.

          • You know what team killed it on the counterattack and in the regular season only to lose in the 2nd round?

            The 91-92 NYR. But at least they countered off the trap to generate offense, not let the opponent gain the zone and start making s’mores as they camp out.

      • You have to admit though that the players aren’t responsible for things like breaking up a good pairing (Smith/Skjei) and replacing it with Smith/Staal. After two great games by Smith/Skjei where he should have realized they deserved more minutes, instead he breaks them up — that’s nonsense. It also isn’t on the players when a coach puts out Staal/Holden in the last minute when they clearly weren’t playing that well (especially Holden that night and in the game prior, he’s been a turnover machine the last couple of months).

    • He also had Anze Kopitar,Drew Doughty superstars something the Rangers don’t have. Superstars. A true world class number one center.

      • Exactly. Sutter wins nothing without those guys. And we have NO ONE in their category. That’s what’s missing.

        • Kopitar has 255 goals. At his age, Rick Nash had well over 300. You decide who is and who is not a star to suit your purposes.

          • The difference is Anze is a center don’t you guys get it. You don’t win a cup with a true number one center. A superstar center iceman is always needed to win a cup. In all sports to win you must be strong down the middle. It’s sports 101.

          • Thank you Harlem.

            And Ray, would you be willing to take a bet as to which player would be taken first if trying to complete a SC roster…Nash or Kopitar? I think you are well aware of the answer.

          • I don’t think anyone has ever seen Kopitar as a HOFer. OTOH, I think when the Rangers acquired him, Nash was better than an even money bet. The truth is that when Sather acquired Nash, trying to fill out an SC roster is exactly what he was doing – and I’d wager that he would have been less interested in Kopitar.

            Now there are facts and there is speculation. It appears that Sutter got more out of Kopitar than AV got out of Nash. Whether that tells us something about Kopitar-Nash or about Sutter-AV is not at all clear. However, given their respective pedigrees, I’d wager coaching and Nash’s anchor of a passive goalie have tipped the balance.

  • Great write up Josh . There is definitely some thing missing from this team on paper we are a very good team , but the game is played on ice not paper .We need a 1C and 2 D men and a Roussel Gallagher type player .It will be a an interesting summer with the way the POs are going for the Caps and the Hawks , there should be some good players available . Hawks are in Cap hell and also the Caps We can fix it all starting right after the Parade down Broadway on June 15th LGR

  • great write up the problem is they don’t respond to A.V. anymore he needs to go and hopefully after they fall in first round again- so sad

  • Where is the killer instinct?

    Lets see…..Dubinsky plays in columbus, ….Callahan in tampa bay, derek brassard in toronto, ,… victor stallberg, ottowa ……….derek dorsett, brian boyle, anton strallman, dylan mcilrath, benoit poilet, ….all jettisoned!!!

    You get the picture…..AV and gorton and sather have quickly removed anyand all the rangers PASSIONATE< AGGRESSIVE< HARD CHECKING < GRIT ,winning players which it takes to win a cup!!!!!!!!

    This team is exactly what AV wanted……soft, gentle, passers and skaters like the ice capades or the rocketts on ice…….INDEFENSIBLE all of management and coach…..stupid trades, horrible player evaluations!!!!!!!!

    • Dubi, Callahan wanted to much money and I wouldn’t have over paid for those two. Brassard I would have kept and given them Stepan. Out of the others Stralman was the miss because Boyle wanted money and Dorsett ah. Dylan should be here that my opinion.

      • Zibanejad would have been off the table for Stepan, as OTT would not have been a trade partner. The only reason we were able to steal Zibanejad was bc Eugene Melnyk is a cheap ass owner who wanted to save money on payroll (as Brassard earns less than his caphit over the next 3 years). Stepan’s deal does not currently offer that incentive.

        That said, you may very well get your wish soon, as there is ample speculation that Stepan may be an odd man out this summer. While things are looking bad here, the Wild are 0-3 against a vastly inferior St. Louis team. Should they get swept or lose handily, pressure will be strong for a shake up, and Stepan may be an ideal candidate given his roots. Like many here have pointed out previously, they do have a stable of defensemen who would be upgrades to our blueline- namely Spurgeron or Dumba.

          • won’t matter with AV behind the bench and DG/MS still wearing the sweater. IMO unless AV approves the trades/signings they will be for naught.

          • Well, if you REALLY believe AV has that much power that he can tell the GM exactly what to do, then I say buckle up…he wont be going anywhere for a long, long time.

            AV obviously is consulted, as is Sather. But it’s Gorton’s job to manage the cap and create the roster–not AV’s.

        • Well played, Hat. But not Spurgeon.

          Scandella’s the more likely target, as Dumba’s younger, offering far greater upside. Moreover, the former’s cap hit is in Girardi-Staal territory: $4M.

          Conversely, Dumba, unless Minnesota re-upped him during the season, was at $894K last October.

          I also agree with RFiB. Anaheim was never a good match, given their strengths/moveable assets v. our needs/weaknesses.

  • We need a new coach with fresh ideas someone that has had success eg; AHL, College, Martin St. Louis, Messier etc.

    • Please name me a college coach that has come to the NHL and won in short order. Please name me a former superstar player with NO coaching experience that has done the same. Even AHL coaches, if they haven’t had some NHL experience, that’s hard to swallow.

      Make that move, and the odds are you are looking for a new coach again in 2-3 years. But then some of you can have your dream scenario of a massive rebuild as the Rangers completely fall off the NY sports landscape.

        • Bob Johnson seriously? Have you looked at the roster he have to put on the ice. A legend, yes but he coached legends.

          • E3

            At least he named at least one coach!!!!!!!! Johnson’s replacement was Bowman, for one season, then who, I don’t remember, but the legends were still on that roster, did he win as well?????????

          • I didnt say it can’t be done. It’s just not exactly the usual route most teams take to success.

            Johnson did a great job but the emergence of a guy named Jagr, and the acquisition of one of those old geezers (Trottier) may have had something to do with it Walt. :).

            Also, Barrasso emerged and was way better than Wendell Young.

            Bowman took over the next season and led them to the Cup again.

            Again, this proves what I’ve said all along. Johnson was only marginally succesful as an NHL coach in Calgary. But with the star power he had in Pit, he could win, then the nest season Bowman could win, probably most of the top tier NHL coach could have won with that roster.

          • marginally successful???? He beat the freaking Edmonton Oilers at their very peak in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He was the only coach to beat Gretzky in his last five years as an Oiler.

            Also Lemieux and Jagr played together in the playoffs in 91, 92, 93, 94, 96, and 97. Granted, even Scotty Bowman could win with that duo, but no one else did.


            Sorry, but coaching isn’t easy and any top tier coach can’t win with a “loaded” team. Remember, Crosby and company were winless 2010-2015.

            In the last eight years, we have seen a great Chicago team and a great Pitt team take five of the eight titles. We have also seen Boston and LA teams that were no better than what AV has had in Vancouver and NY grab the other three. [I know you think those teams were great because our biases tell us that champions are.]

          • Ray

            Thanks for the spot on post. The Pens were loaded for years, yet failed to win again, so if the cast is the same, but the coach isn’t, what’s the answer? Rhetorical question, but that’s my point. AV has had great players, in their prime, and still choked his chicken because of his rigid style, with zero deviation from his game plan!!!!!!!!!!

  • I think the problem with this team is three or four major issues. First is leadership. It’s understated how important guys like Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis and Brian Boyle were to this team during their time spent in NY. From their locker room presence to their leadership on the ice as well. In the 3 years Richards played in New York, he may not have been the captain officially, but he was the true leader of the team. Boyle goes to Tampa and gets an A and they immediately take the next step. Yes they have a great young core of forwards but you need guys like Boyle to win. His impact is all over this Toronto-Washington series. And I don’t think anything needs to be said about the impact Marty had on this team. These guys were performers when it counted most. I don’t think the current leadership core has enough of that killer instinct that Josh mentions. Are they a group of great, team first guys who will do anything for their teammates? Absolutely. But that doesn’t make them great leaders.

    Second, we don’t have a game changing offensive forward and we haven’t since Jagr. Look at the teams to win the Cup since the lockout. Their forward cores included the likes of Toews & Kane (3X), Crosby & Malkin (2X), Kopitar & Carter (2X), Bergeron, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Selanne, Getzlaf, Perry & E. Staal. At the time all were either young rising stars or in their prime. What forward on the Rangers can even approach them. Nash has been a great player for this team. He does everything you can ask him to do, and more, but his overall production level isn’t what it once was and he isn’t able to carry a team. He also doesn’t possess an elite shot, think a Kessel like release. Yes the advanced numbers show Stepan produces like a mid-low level 1C. I love everything he does for the team and we’re a better team with him then without him. But if he’s your 1C in a playoff series against the guys I just mentioned…. you’re not going to win that a majority of the time.

    Third, is AV. AV is a coach who has a good system for the regular season. It’s clearly worked in the playoffs as well, getting to the SCF twice, and ECF once. Those three years the losses were unbearable (Game 7 in Vancouver, Game 5 SCF after 3 OT losses, and Game 7 at MSG with a battered defensive core). But the other common theme in those years, and other years has been his inability to adjust. He knows his system. He doesn’t know how to adjust from his system when good coaches like Julien and Cooper shut it down. His players have just been good enough to make up for it in the past. I don’t know if they are now. His player usage has been mind boggling as well. I won’t get into the handling of young players because guys like Miller, Hayes and Kreider have all seemed to respond to him and improve.

    Lastly, its the Front Office. Yes, Slats signed Girardi & Staal. Yes, he let Stralman walk in favor of Dan Boyle. Yes, he signed Glass, who shockingly hasn’t been bad this series. Yes, he traded all of our first round picks from here to eternity. But this is on Gorton now. Gorton with Slats approving it let Yandle walk and got nothing in return for Hagelin or Talbot. He made the E. Staal trade. If you think this team is getting rid of Girardi or Staal this offseason, I don’t know what to tell you. They are beloved in the locker room, and do provide some value. They’re also beloved by the FO. Nothing is changing. If we’re lucky maybe we sign Shattenkirk and re-sign Smith, and get rid of at least one of Girardi or Staal as well as Klein. That would at least set us up for McD-Shatty, Skjei-Smith, Girardi/Staal- Anyone for the next few years. But I doubt they’ll make the right move there. I really see this as the team we are stuck with for the next few years. We’ll make the playoffs and be bounced in the first or second round and Hank will retire as the greatest Cup less goalie of all time. Toronto and Columbus are rising, granted at different paces and with different ceilings. Crosby is back to being on top of his game which is scary. Washington is still Washington. We don’t really fit in as a power do we?

    • You were making sense until the Stepan statement of we’re better with him. He ain’t doing shit he’s over rate and a passenger while Zuccarello drive that line. That’s the part of the problem like E3 has said we over rate some of the players. Stepan is one of them. I can easily name 25 centers that are better than this guy easy. He’s a dime a dozen collecting much coin from this team. The old guys need to go and now.

      • Sorry, Harlem, but he nailed the Stepan assessment. You, like seemingly everyone else around here, are too extreme in your take. I guess it’s a common thing, but there is a lot of room in between great/elite/champion and awful/overpaid/useless. Unfortunately, around these parts its one extreme or the other and nothing in between.

        • Stepan is a good two way player, a number 2 or 3 center, but since the Rangers don’t have an elite center, he plays #1 minutes often. Dumping on him for the team’s lack of an elite center doesn’t make sense.

        • The problem for Stepan is he is a great second line center, but with the rangers he is forced to be an ahhhh first line center so that make fans go to extremes.

          You put a star on the top line at center and slot Stepan in the 2C slot your team is set.

          He plays a decent 2 way game that isn’t appreciated because we want him to be our Crosby.

          • The issue many of us have is that the $6.5M could be spent better elsewhere and show more value and be more productive. His output as a #2C is good enough, but the cost is somewhat restrictive.

          • It’s market value for what he provides (yes, #2s make $6.5M in today’s NHL).

            Now, if a team comes calling willing to trade a top 4 defenseman for him, I’m listening.

          • He’s not great not great at all seriously. Stepan isn’t a number one neither is he a great number two. He’s one of the problems with this team and in that lockeroom. First PP unit time and the PP sucks,on the PK the PK sucks can’t one time a puck to save his life,slow and can’t win a face off. But just like G and Staal AV keep giving them big minutes. Stubborn. Get rid of them all. One of these guys should have learned for MSL and became a strong voice in that lockeroom.

        • Thanks Hatrick, I try to stay away from the comments but like Josh tweeted earlier when linking to the article, I’m angry about what has happened to this team and felt compelled to comment. I think like Peter and Steve said on my post, that Step is a true 2C. Unfortunately, he has to play first line minutes. We really just need a superstar 1C or at least a star 1C who has the playoff experience.

        • That’s fair enough Hatrick. But if your top center is like 25 to 30th best in the league you have a big problem to over come. You don’t win without a true number one center and Stepan isn’t a number. To win without one you had to have many other pieces which Rangers don’t have. A superstar or to helps. Just look at Edmonton wow what a difference a great player makes. Makes everyone better gives everyone confidences demands 110% and no less. Yesterday Paul George called two of his teammates which is sometimes from a leader.

          • This is a real tricky point. I haven’t done any calculations this year, but I recall deciding a year ago that Stepan was maybe in the 20-25 range. Now that is a #1 center, but as you note, most playoff teams will have a better one. Problem is improving is real hard. You can’t just trade for Crosby and McDavid and in fact, the list above Stepan is pretty short. All you can usually really do is what Gorton did – take a flyer on a Zibanejad and hope he emerges.

            But you can win with the 20th best center. It really is about 18 skaters and a goalie and, for example, if you have four of the top 50 centers, you can cause problems for the other guys. Sad if in that situation, fans feel obliged to beat up on the best of the four.

          • Stepan may not be an elite 1st line center, but he’s a still a decent one — his defensive game is what makes up for his lackluster 1st line offensive production … but why is everyone just focusing on Stepan, where’s Kreider? Where’s Hayes? Where’s Miller? Plus let’s not pretend MZA is playing all that well, taking double minors in playoff games doesn’t help.

            All that said, it’s still early in the playoffs and they’re in a 3 game series with another 100+ point team. They played well in Game 1, they should have won game 2 and very well might have if you don’t have Staal/Holden on the ice in the last minute and they played well in game 4. Let’s not let one stinker of a game 3 overshadow all that (and that game could have turned out very differently if they had jumped out to a lead in the first 5-10 minutes of the 1st period when they had some golden opportunities to score).

    • One point on Gorton, I think he was afraid to (or blocked from) making a big move at the deadline because of the impending expansion draft. I think the playoff showing may change his thinking and allow him to move players and leave some guys unprotected.

      He needs to evaluate guys like Fast and Lindberg while also viewing Hayes, JT and Stepan. He should see who is available on the backline, and see if he can grab a few second round picks to make his team strong where it needs it, in it’s soul. Look for leadership qualities as well as scoring points, as there is an obvious void there in the clubhouse.

      • 100% agree. I think Gorton was keeping his powder dry and wanted to see if this group really is good enough. It isn’t. I expect to see some radical alterations to the roster. And I would not be surprised if a blockbuster happens with the likes of Kreider, Miller or Hayes. We already know from the rumor mill that there is a market for Miller. the question is what will any of these guys actually yield in terms of a return.

        Time to shake up the dynamic.

    • Great post Maccormac! I agree, post more often!

      I totally agree with you on points one and two. I’ve made that point many times. Point one in particular has really been overlooked. As I said the other day, it was Jagr and Shanny that gave us some leadership and mojo in the Renney years. Once they left, there was no one to fill that void. Then Richards joined Gabby and suddenly, in 2012, the Rangers had something going. They weren’t great and they certainly benefitted from the fact that Crosby and Malkin were having injury issues, but they had the leadership in the room to make a deep run. Then AV came in, had a revived Richards after his bad year, they add Marty to the mix–magic! They have the leadership group in place to make a deep run. Those guys understood what it took to make big plays in key moments, and the rest of the team fed off of it.

      We lost Richards after that season. MSL’s play declined second half of 2015. Massive injuries hit the squad in post-season. They were 20 minutes away from going back to the SCF. Just tough hockey luck.

      Last year, no more Richards, no more MSL. This year, the roster possesses NO ONE that has a ring. No one. It possesses no high end talent that is pretty much required in order to win it all. Very, very hard to win that way.

      Let’s skip to point number four. It would take too long to debate the various reasons for why Sather/Gorton made the moves they made. But what is clear is, the team is the team. They chose to get younger and less experienced. They chose NOT to pursue a big ticket player like Shatty at the deadline. I’m not saying any of those decisions were wrong. It’s just fact.

      So then back to three, how is this REALLY on AV? When he had part of the puzzle in place in 2014, he took them to the SCF where they lost to a team that had the components you speak of–high end future HOF talent. In 2015, it was promising for sure, but then MSL aged seemingly overnight, Zuc was nearly killed, and the entire defense was wiped out in the TB series. How is that on the coach? And even if they had gotten by the Bolts (who had and still have way more high end players than we do), injured as we were, we had NO chance to beat the Hawks.

      Last year, the defense was awful and we ran into a juggernaut. This year was supposed to be a rebuilding year all along. We finish again with 100+ points for the third straight year and make the playoffs, defying the predictions of most of the experts.

      So if you conclude that points 1, 2 and 4 are correct, than if anything we should conclude that AV has done a remarkable job with a flawed roster, should we not?

      • Thanks Eddie!. Great point about the Crosby/Malkin injury issues, which definitely helped fuel our nice little run since 2011-12. You present a good counter argument as to the job AV has done, as he is dealing with what he was given to work with. I agree with you on that to a point. I just disagree in saying he has been remarkable. I think he has done a fine job when looking at the overall results. The roster isn’t as bad as people make it out to be. And if you look at every team in the league, their roster is flawed in some way shape or form. However as with any other job in the world, it’s the little things. Sitting the laundry list of players for Glass (surprisingly one of our best forwards this series). Playing Girardi first pair minutes despite all injuries and diminishing returns. Stapling youngsters to the press box. Barely playing Skjei-Smith in last 10 minutes of Game 2. Usage of Nash and McD through 2 periods in Game 3. Adjusting to being stopped on the breakout by Cooper and Julien. Giving Yandle 3rd pairing minutes and PP2 time. All these little things over the years add up. I just hope he’s able to make some corrections before it’s too late.

        • These are all very fair critiques. But I suspect every coach is subject to them. The other day I posted a Hockey News article skewering Julien for his strategy and deployment in Game 1. It’s part of the territory. There are always things you can nitpick about any coach.

          As far as a “bad roster”, clearly no one thinks the Rangers have a bad roster. It’s a good (but unfortunately not great) roster with significant flaws that right now is struggling, and offensively has been struggling for two months. The problem is, you need SOMEONE (hopefully more than one) to play great besides the goalie, and that’s largely been the issue for most of the past decade under two different coaches. No real stars. Sometimes, if it all clicks, they can make a run. But there is little margin for error with this group. They can easily be shutdown and that has been proven over and over again under two different coaches. Which is why to me, it’s not the coach.

          The Glass debate is old news. Mostly though, Glass has played because the young “stars” proved they were not ready, or were injured, or were out of shape. We didnt learn the reason until after the season, but I have no issue with any of those decisions now based now based on what we later learned.

          Girardi? Maybe, but again, the better options were who? The fancy stats crowd will say McIlrath and Clendo, but no NHL team wants McIlrath at the moment, and Clendo is in his 6th organization in three seasons and may be out of the league next year.

          The youngsters thing is overblown and totally misstated. Torts sent Kreider to the minors and had little use for Zuc. So did he hate the kids too? I even read an article that said he wasn’t high on Miller. AV brought out the best in all of them. Miller has well documented work ethic issues (Dave Maloney even said the organization wasn’t even sure he WANTED to be an NHL player). Tough love applied, and now he’s a better player, although still a long, long way to go. Hayes was out of shape last year and still AV largely stuck with him. Vesey has played a lot. Buch not so much but mostly that’s due to the back I assume. Skjei has had a breakout rookie season, and AV gets no credit for that out here. Fast has played a lot.

          Hayes the other day praised AV in the Players’ Journal. He and Vesey (and now these two new kids) chose to come here when they could have gone anywhere else. So if AV REALLY had a bad rep with the kids, why would these kids CHOOSE to play for him? There’s just not a lot there that supports this notion that he is “anti-kid”.

          The other stuff are valid critiques….all except Cooper. The Rangers had Zuc nearly killed and the whole defense virtually wiped out due to injury. And the Bolts were an emerging force with star power WAY superior to the Rangers. Under those circumstances, to get to within 20 minutes of a return trip to the SCF was remarkable.

          But, does he need to make corrections here? Yes. But the fact is, Montreal is probably the better team here. Few expected the Rangers to make the playoffs this year. So a series win would be nice but it’s not about this year anyway.

          • The Bolts were an emerging force. Few expected the Rangers to make the playoffs this year.

            Where is your information coming from? The idea that the Rangers would miss the playoffs never crossed my mind. And in case you hadn’t noticed, the overrated Bolts went home early.

            Fact is, Lundqvist had on off year and an injury – and the Rangers still coasted into the playoffs. And there was nothing amazing about it. Sure, Grabner had a great year, but otherwise it was pretty unremarkable. Barring a raft of injuries, it really is hard to imagine how the Rangers could have tanked.

            The only people who thought the Rangers would come up short are the chicken littles who don’t grasp the fact that defensemen screw up all the time – that while Dan Girardi is hardly Shea Weber, he still messes up less than more than half the dmen in the league.

          • The Bolts were an emerging force in 2015 and that carried over to 2016. They were supposed to go deep this season but they were arguably the league’s biggest disappointment. So I don’t understand your point here.

            Go back to most pre-season pundits and you will find most had the Rangers regressing. If it hadn’t been for Grabner’s stunning season, we might very well have missed it.

            Hank off…defensive issues. Scoring dropping off dramatically pretty much month to month. If anyone had said that in the beginning of the year, they all would have agreed–no playoffs. The fact they made it was a testament to everyone involved–including the GM and the coaching staff.

            And given the beasts in the divsion (Was and Pit), no one expected the Rangers to even come close to winning the division and compete for the Cup.

            100+ points. Probably a round maybe two if they get lucky and Hank drags them across that line yet again. They are exactly as they were advertised.

          • The Bolts — you (and admittedly some others) saw them as an emerging force. I said they weren’t. I just saw a band of over-achievers. So what happened this year was consistent with my model and a shock to yours. Somehow you still insist your model is the right one. That is my point.

            The pre-season pundits were obviously full of crap. Look, people are so wedded to the “defense is a tire fire” idea that they insist on making predictions that jibe with the assessment. Of course, losing Yandle and keeping G and S will destroy the Rangers. Local pundits say that because they are so mad at management that they want to believe that the defense will doom the team. And i suppose national people feed off the local buzz.

            Honest predictions are rare. I think Edmonton will win the Cup this year. Am I biased by my desire to see Talbot finally get his just desserts – of course! I have no idea who I would pick if Talbot wasn’t an ex-Ranger. I picked Wisconsin to get to the NCAA basketball final. i imagine most people behave in much the same way.

            And when it comes to Ranger fans (Larry Brooks among them I think) and the Rangers, we can expect either absurd optimism or doom and gloom – not so much in between. This was a doom and gloom, but it really made no sense.

            As for your third paragraph, every year there are pleasant surprises and unpleasant surprises. If you just reveal the unpleasant ones and pretend it is a balanced forecast, yes, people will fear the worst. It wouldn’t be hard to come up with a short list of things about the 2015-2016 Penguins to make it pretty obvious that they wouldn’t even make the playoffs.


    I wanna jump into the TV and smack the french off our casual gum chewing leader…

    He allowed this teams identity to become what it is – now live with it!

    did anyone see what Babcock made of Kadri… he was a manic out there last night..

    • Pas, not just Kadri and Leo Komarov, most conspicuously. But nearly all the Leafs, even the finesse and dangle guys, like Bozak and Marner are buying in.

      Not only to Babcock’s system/direction/roles, but to the jersey. Sense of legacy. Tradition. To the city itself.

  • I agree with Rich, all the players who had passion are all gone. Dubinsky and Brassard and Stralman on D, Boyle as a catalyst were playoff performers. All gone. We gave up too much to receive to little last few years and we will decline even more. Here is the major problem, we will continue to put into place band aids in place and continue with the illusion and never have a high draft era to truly build a team. All SCC teams are built from within.

    Oilers will be a real Stanley Cup contending team way before we will be. Rangers have never been patient to build correctly and it shows. Hockey is different and in not a good way. This sport has been pansified, players no longer playing for the crest but their contracts. This has created an attitude problem. The great players on bad teams play great because they know the pay day is coming and once it arrives they fall off, as we would say in the Marines, they become fat and happy.

    If you are a carpenter foreman and you have the greatest carpenter who shows up to work whenever he wants, yet you have an apprentice who is always at work on time, shows he cares and does an adequate job and you know you can raise his skill set, who do you want working for you?

    Ranger brass needs to stop worrying about filling the seats, this is the Rangers who have one of the most devoted fan base of any sports team, they will come and watch no matter what. Doing the same thing over and over is insanity when it is not creating the result.

    • I actually agree with you Leather. The Rangers attempted the rebuild and failed miserably when they dumped the team right before the first lockout. The 1st round draft pick they got for Brian Leetch ended up being Lauri freaking Korpikoski!

      The only superstar Sather was able to draft was a fluke at 200 something overall in Lundqvist.

      Add that in to the awful 1st round picks of Brendl, Jessiman, and Malhotra and you end up with a mediocre team. Sather blew that opportunity and then had to attempt to construct a Stanley Cup winner on the fly by adding pieces through trade and UFA acquisitions. So you end up with the current team which as Eddie states is full of good but not great players.

      • Brendl (#4 overall), Lundmark (#9), Malhotra (#6), these were all Neil Smith picks. Jessiman was a Sather pick and probably would have been a very good player if one of his ankles wasn’t broken in about 15 places at Dartmouth.

        The gong show of UFA Ds, Lefevbre, Quintal, Pilon, Van Impe, etc … Sather had to sign that never ending collection of stiffs between 2000 – 2003 thanks to Neil Smith batting virtually .000 in his final 5 drafts running the Rangers.

      • Sather was as bad a GM as you could get….gorton so far….not good….had we not been the rangers and outbid everyone for vesey and hayes our talent pool would be dismal!

        Heard Ron Duguay being interviewed by Rick DiPietro this mornig and WOW did they blast the rangers and coaching!!!!! As best as I can recall……..

        Pietro said the rangers NEEDED to take care of business as soon as hank gets hit, which is like all game long…..and since AV has the last change glass should have been put on the ice since he is one of few rangers who is willing !!!!!!!

        They talked about how toronto went out and got Matt Martin to be a more aggressive team and how important a player like that is to the team. Look at how the islanders regressed this year.

        Duguay said that players need to be nasty and aggressive in the playoffs and do to carey price what the canadians are doing to Lunquist…..They mentioned how important boyle and brassard were to the team. They talked about how rangers needed to send a message to the canadians…….and how important PHYSICALITY is especially in the playoffs!!!!! But its not AVs style.

        Personally I am also very down on McDonagh who has yet to come to lunquist aid with ‘fists; a blazing ‘ and not just a gentle push when he gets hit!!!!

        Zuccarello should be captain next year ……lindberg and fast must be kept as well as smith…..we desperately ned a messier, dale hunter, dubi type center and a matt martin type wing!!!!
        As well as some aggressive defensemen to go with brady sjkel and mcdonagh { unless you trade him }[is pk subban available?]

        • Rich, if you bother to glance outside of New York you’ll find no shortage of abysmal general managers. Sather doesn’t deserve statues in Midtown but he is a far cry from where you place him.

          • Agree, Sather’s run as GM was a mixed bag. His drafting early in his time here was abysmal, and ultimately cost us a legit chance at the Cup. However, after that, he did to his credit rebound. He pulled off arguably the best trade in Rangers history acquiring McDonagh. He made a smart deal to get Lindberg. Drafting has been better in recent years and he found a way to find good, solid players that would help lift the Rangers from a train wreck franchise to one that has been one of the most succesful in the NHL over the past decade.

            In fairness, all of this has to be taken into account, not just the bad. I’d give him a B- over all.

        • Gorton has gotten the team younger and cheaper and didn’t panic over the albatross contracts that Slats saddled him with.

          He brought in a plethora of defenders that the coach won’t play except the oldest one who isn’t good at his position.

          He also improved the forward depth on the cheap via signings and plucking the waiver wire.

          He’s in B territory, final grade depends on what happens at the expansion draft

    • Leather

      This is what I posted on the other thread, smae thought process, and shows you point about lacking patience to build from within.

      King Sieveqvist ! King Sieveqvist ! King Sieveqvist ! says:
      Apr 18, 2017 at 2:40 pm
      Nash was supposed to be “that guy” … good chunk of change in his pocket each year with not much to show for it … is he a good hockey player , yup , not worth the what is it again ? 7.5 mil ?

      Walt says:
      Apr 18, 2017 at 3:01 pm
      So were Marcel Dionne, Barry Beck, Dan Boyle, Pavel Bure, Phil Esposito, Theo Fleury, Marian Gaborik, Mike Gartner, Wayne Gretzky, Jaromir Jagr, Jari Kurri, Guy Lafleur, Eric Lindros, Luc Robitaille, Brendan Shanahan, Eric Staal. Gees, they all came here to be our saviors, all got big deals, and crapped out………Maybe it goes back to an earlier post I made today, they are all retreads, well over the hill, but we are gluttons for punishment, we keep going back to the same well, and drink the same kool aid, and expect magic. That’s one sorry record we have had, and we should be vocal about those failures!!!!!!!

      • All but Barry Beck I agree with, he left his blood and sweat on the ice for us….rest just ;paparazzi names….well gone and beyond their years

      • Walt, if you are interested, I reasoned to you on the other page. As usual, we disagree. Most of these moves were either good moves or harmless moves. Only a few were actually bad moves.

  • I watched the Caps/Maple Leafs game last night. There was a point when the announcers remarked on the crowd becoming quiet. Kadri came on the ice and leveled Orpik, and before his shift was over threw another huge check. That brought the fans right back into the game. For those of you who do not feel that players feed off fan enthusiasm, have played on far differents sports teams than I have.
    The Rangers as a few posters have pointed out are a very polite team. Easy to play against because AV refuses or is unable to make needed adjustments, and do not possess that sandpaper type player.

    Rich S said it best, want to know where our killer instinct is, they were traded away, or allowed to walk.

    But AV has the team HE wanted.

  • AV should have them watch a tape of the Leafs or Bruins, to let them see what a team with heart looks like.

  • As much as we like him as a D man, much of the blame for the lack of fire on this team has to go to Mac. As captain, it his his job to help motivate and fire up the players, especially since AV leaves the “room” to the players (a huge mistake, IMO). Sorry but they just don’t come more passionless, cliche-spouting, or bland than McD. He makes Leetch look like a fire spewing dragon. I’m tired of the emotionless captains which coupled with a catatonic coach (except with gum chewing), lead to an uninspired team. Until we get a new coach, new GM, new captain, and Sather leaves the organization completely, we aren’t winning a cup. Oh yeah, Fire AV.

  • I have been saying for a few years now how inconsistent this team is. The power play is horrible. Now let me give my opinion: This team lacks something that comes from the thing between the ears, it’s call the brain. they are like potato chips they crack under the slightest bit of pressure. Point: how can you play 2 good games in Montreal and come how and play such a heartless game? Answer, you are thinking the game instead of playing it! They play great in a game then go on a power play and can’t do anything right. Why, they are thinking the game instead of playing it.
    This group of players has proven it over and over that they are not mentally strong. Nothing else makes sense. I love MacD but he is not a good captain (reminds me of Leetch when he was captain)
    You can’t teach mental toughness. Remember Yankees 2nd baseman Knoblauch couldn’t throw to first base out of nowhere. Mental block. Look at the history of these players, consistently inconsistent. Once something gets in a person’s head it’s hard to get it out. Maybe a Sports Shrink would help because this is 100% a mental issue.

  • Answers are simple. AV gets outcoached and can’t adjust, plus as mentioned above, we have some different players meaning different combinations. Brassard turned it up in the playoffs and had chemistry with Zucc. Now, very few players stand out when you watch a game and our ‘D’ is old and can’t seem to play together. Something is very wrong. I have never seen the Rangers play that bad in a playoff game, and in the game before… “how does a team give up over 50 shots in a playoff game?” But still, when the whole team goes bad, you have to look at the coaching staff.

  • There’s are a disconnect in the lockeroom where the old core should be leading the young but they aren’t. It’s like they didn’t take in and learn and now preach what B.R., MSL taught them. They should be leading the strong voices in the room. You my lose in the play offs because the other team is better. You should never,never lose because you play with no passion,no fire and not willing to get dirty. In excusable!

  • I’m hearing a lot about a lack of leadership on this team. I hear a lot of pining for guys like Richards, St Louis, Boyle, etc.

    Oddly, Richards and St Louis were mercilessly criticized as washed up aging former stars, and Slats was accused of continuing to go after high priced vets to a fault. Boyle was harangued as a timid bum, a guy who lacked emotion and physicality. Now we want these guys back?

    Rangers fans, man. Never happy with what they have, but always idolizing what once was.

    • Spot on. Dubi was another…. the amount of flack he caught after he signed his last contract in NY and hit that goal drought. At that time we couldn’t get rid of him quickly enough. Now that he’s gone, he happens to be what we are missing.

      • Same old story. Brassard, too. He was loved here, like Duby, but few really disagreed with that deal. We got a younger, cheaper, comparably talented replacement, and most acknowledged the long term savvy in that move. But now, in the moment, Big Game Brassard is an empty void. Do we want a smart, cost efficient, core build or do we want to win now?

        • Exactly. All these moves (buy out Richards, MSL retires, Brassard traded, Hagelin traded, not double down on going after a rental at the deadline) were made with the future in mind. The only way this team remains a legit SC contender when all that happens is IF you believe the young core we have is actually something more than just good–and that they are capable of providing the kind of leadership and clutch play that we had in 2014 and 2015. At this point, over two playoffs, this group hasn’t shown they can do that .

          The hopeful news is that any one of our young, untouchable, elite beasts (all words I’ve heard to describe our underachievers) have the opportunity to flip that narrative tonight. Will anyone answer that bell? Or better question, are any of them CAPABLE of doing so?

          It’s not AV that’s on the hot seat. I think Gorton has already weighed in on where he stands with the coach. I think he is going to be watching this young group of “stars” very carefully. And if they fail again, watch out for a major shakeup this summer. No point in building around a young core of just good players who can’t raise their game when it matters.

    • Brad and Marty at the end needed to go but lessons should have been learned. G,Staal,Stepan and McD should have learned their lessons well. They should be the strong voices in that lockeroom but they aren’t. They aren’t leading these young guys Hayes should taken to the shed for not powering to the net. Miller for he’s bonehead plays. That’s why the old core must go and let these young guys develop(McD stays).

  • What is frustrating me is that I know that they are capable of playing better than they have played. Sure, the are a flawed team. But at least if they played hard they would make us proud even if they fell short. Just go down swinging if you are going to go down.

  • This is all the same dialogue we went through last year, using the same terminology, i.e. lack of leadership, lack of killer instinct(or as I put it, imposing your will on the other team), team fragility, coach’s inability to adjust or put players in a position to succeed, something wrong in the locker room. All I know & I have been saying it for two years, is that AV needs to be shown the door. Responsibility for uninspired performance starts with the head coach. Until he is shown the door, nothing is changing, even if they win tonight.

    • Talent changes everything. The coach isn’t the primary issue here. You could put Coach Q with this group, or your guy Torts and the result would be likely the same. Good players delivering nothing more than just good results. More likely than not, with the options available out there, we’d more likely regress to a lottery team if AV were replaced.

      I’m not saying AV is blameless here, because he’s not. It’s up to him to get the most out of a flawed roster. If they go down meekly here, I agree, that’s not a good sign. But losing to a Montreal team that is easily as good as they are, if not better, hardly means the issue is the coach.

      The real issue is we need great talent in order to get great results. That’s up to Gorton to make that happen.

  • Tell me what you think AV does to defend him so staunchly? He has to go….he is worthless….all you have to do is look at the softies on this team…screw him…get rid of that turd

    • The record is all i need to point out. And the lack of star power he’s had to work with.

      I’m not saying he’s perfect or without flaw. But there are MUCH bigger issues here than the coach.

  • Josh

    “How many times did we watch them sit back after getting the lead and watch it bite them in the ass?”

    That’s what pissed me off so much in game two, we took our foot off of the gas pedal, and played not to lose. That I believe will be the turning point of this playoff season. We played turtle for 40 minutes in the eventual loss, and didn’t show any life in game 3, how dreadful was that dispaly?????? This team lacks the killer instinct because if they get slapped around, they are told by AV to turn the other cheek, in order for your face to swell evenly.

    I wish we had a group of guys who would be like the Oiler’s of the 80’s, they would come at you, and run the score up 10-0 and still want more!!!

    • Walt, I have to vehemently disagree. The Rangers played arguably their three most physical playoff games in a decade these last three nights. A lack of physicality is NOT why we lost.

      And Leather, this isn’t the 80s.

  • I think over the last 4-5 years there has been 2 very very very good head coaches in their prospective sports…Tom Coughlin and Alain Vigneault. But as Coughlins reached a point where he had put so many years in I was hearing the comments ( from a lot of different directions) “After awhile a coach runs out of things to say” or “After awhile a coach can lose his impact”…I TOTALLY believe that’s what happened with Coughlin……Maybe AV is starting to get into the same situation???

  • Josh, very good article and clearly it was well researched and written from the heart. But I take issue with a few of your points, or at least want to clarify a few things…

    1) desperation trades– Well, the only one that really qualifies it seems would be the Staal trade. I mean, isn’t every deadline deal in a sense a “desperation” trade? Everyone is desperate to either win a Cup or get max assets for the future.

    2) Even the Staal trade–a bounty of assets? Some marginal draft picks we will likely never hear from again that we can (and already have to an extent) recoup in other deals, and Alexei Saarela, who regressed this season and might, if he’s lucky, be a marginal NHL player some day. Not my definition of a bounty.

    3) Defense….yes, that would have been good. But what deal was out there? Everyone is looking for quality defensemen, and they dont grow on trees. The Rangers had limited cap space last year, and you have to find a trade partner willing to work with you.

    4) Talbot and Hags–well, again, it’s hard to evaluate if they “missed” or not. With Talbot, there was speculation that there really wasn’t much of a market for him (I’ll bet some teams are regretting that now). Apparently, the deal with Edmonton was the best they could do. In the case of Hags, we all loved the guy. But he was a third line guy with limited skills that wasn’t going to fetch much on the open market. The Rangers were in cap hell. Sometimes you hold the cards in these deals, and sometimes you don’t. We didnt have much leverage in this case.

    5) Smith– again, you are overrating what we gave up here. The chances are we will never miss these picks. Re-signing Smith shouldn’t be about justifying the trade. It’s about cap space and who else is out there. Totally reasonable deal to make.

    6) 2014–as mentioned above. We had Cup experience and dynamic leadership with Richards and MSL. IMO, we have never adequately replaced that. And that year (and the year that followed) proved that AV can make deep runs if the talent is good enough.

    7) “This team has too much skill to be playing this poorly”. Well, I know we have this false narrative about how incredibly skilled our players are. I certainly agree that they certainly can and should play better than they did in Game 3. But this team of “untouchable” skill players has been pretty medicocre now since mid-February. They are not that good, and watching their offense short-circuit as it is doing should come as no surprise to anyone. This has been the Rangers MO under two different coaches now. Good but not great players struggling to find the back of the net, especially in the playoffs, because their finishing instincts are terrible, and relying on an aging defense and Hank to carry them across the finish line. Real hard to win a series that way…but that’s the No-Margin-For-Error Rangers.

    • They were wasted assets, as well as not using our own assets….yeah they were dumb dumb dumb moves,,,worse was to extend AV. We will not win with this clown as head coach….he is down right awful

    • I do have to disagree with your assessment of Saarela. He led his Finnish Elite League team in goals this year as a 19/20 year old, then was loaned to the Cane’s AHL team for the playoffs and has a line of 6-4-10 in 9 games. He is developing nicely.

      • My bad…I hadn’t checked on his progress in awhile. He got off to a poor start and ultimately he had a worse season in the SM-liiga than he did last year, at least by any statically measure. I did not see the AHL stats. Pretty impressive. But it’s nine games and there have been many guys who have those brief shining moments in the minors only to become merely marginal when and if they make the big show.

        Color me skeptical, as I am with most prospects.

        • E3

          You should have stared in the series Prison Break, you always have an out don’t you??????? LOL!!!!!!!!

    • E3

      7) “This team has too much skill to be playing this poorly”. Well, I know we have this false narrative about how incredibly skilled our players are.

      If my memory serves me correctly, you, along with many were touting the skills of these, now referred to as less than adequate players, were the cat’s meow????? I stated from the beginning how soft we were, and how overrated we were, and I was impugned for it. I also said I didn’t want to post for the first 20 games or so, and have since then been called everything under the sun for speaking the truth.

      Bottom line, which is it, today we aren’t that good, yesterday we were wonderful, and walked on water. Too many times people would counter my points by saying look at the standings, well I’m still looking, and it’s awful my friend!!!!!!!!

      • Walt,
        I am as guilty as anyone in terms of overrating our players…..
        I have never seen as much young talent on the rangers since I started watching in 1969?
        I still believe however that Zuccarello, kreider, miller, vesey, buch, hayes , lindberg , grabner ,sjkel ,and smith and fast are keepers and should be given more time with a better coach [ does Al Arbor have a son?] and a veteran leader someone along the lines of a messier……….although right now some look lost and hopeless.
        I maintain this coach has helped make us- Soft! I heard Rick Dipietro interview duguay this morning and boy did they kill the coach, his style and lack of response to Hank getting hit constantly!
        I would not panic yet and trade young players ….however I would even entertain offers for nash, mcdonagh…..and cant wait to see stepan go…….not sure about Zib????

        • You are dramatically overrating these guys Rich. This isn’t really that much different than the early 80s–Maloney, Murdoch, Duguay, Sulliman, later Pav. All these guys were touted as the future. Before that it was Vickers.

          They were all very good players that everyone hoped would be great. None of them became great players. The Islanders and Oilers got the great players.

          I see the same thing here.

          • You may be right……I think we’d be ok if we some how ‘miraculously’ found a stamkos/crosby/kopitar/taveras
            type star to lead us!!

            We have never been bad enough to draft a number one [mcdavid, crosby ] player…..

            We will see how much they want to win tonight!

      • I always go into a season hopeful. I NEVER said this was a “GREAT” group, nor have I now said they are less than adequate. This team at its best is good to very good. There are no great players. I have NEVER stated otherwise.

        Everything has to break just right to make a deep run. It’s real harder to win without legit star power.

        This season was better than most experts predicted it would be. I’d sign up for 100+ points for their third straight year with this non-star team any day. Playoffs are a crap shoot, and I think Montreal is better, and I think the majority of the experts going in thought so too.

        Our offense dried up two months ago. This is not a surprise with a young team lacking in star power.

  • Good question. AV is to blame, but so are the players, especially Kredier, Mac, Stepan, Nash, and Girardii.

  • My fervent hope is that they come out hard charging and with a true must win mentality tonight. It would be great to see that, win or lose.

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